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Gender in God
(was Psychology, Salvation, & the Ordination of Women)

F. Earle Fox

[Note: This article was first inspired by the women's ordination movement (entitled Psychology, Salvation, & the Ordination of Women), but theology overtook the original intent.  It is a good summary of gender relations, and how we are made in the Image of God, both male and female.  The ordination of women is just one of the many, many issues which are affected by how we understand sex and gender.  Mostly we ignore the issues and their consequence, to our great hurt.  

It is available as a booklet with footnotes and diagrams.  Send a check for $8 (post paid) to Emmaus Ministries.  Footnotes and diagrams which appear in the printed version do not appear on the website.  See Women's Ordination Library

See also Radical Femininity by Jean Zampino, and The Mother Heart of God by Nancy Hicks -- 2 superb articles on womanhood]


I.  Introduction 
II. A Picture of Biblical Theology
III. The Crucial Space 
IV. Gender & Creation
V. Gender in God
VI. The Need for Separate & Distinct Gender Roles
VI. The Asymmetry of Power and Authority
VII. Two Kinds of Mothering
VIII. The Ministry & Mystery of Womanhood

I. Introduction

Should the Christian community continue, as we have traditionally for most of two millennia, ordain only men to the pastorate or priesthood?  Or should we ordain women also?  That is the question with which this essay was begun.  But the essay shortly focused itself on theology rather than ordination.  But the ordination of women is one of the primary offshoots of our great misunderstanding of God and gender.  It is my hope that the following will help us set things in order in a manner true to Scripture.  There will be some surprises, I expect, for most readers. 

*   *   *

In the late 1950's when I was a student at the Episcopal General Seminary in New York City, the closest we got to feminist issues was whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin.  I thought then that this was only the opening volley for what was faintly audible but still far off in the wings, the ordination of women.  I knew that this latter issue would split the Episcopal Church far more deeply than had the Virgin Birth issue.

Many want to argue that the matter was settled (in the Episcopal Church, at least) by the 1976 Episcopal General Convention decision to ordain women, although, as is often pointed out, it was a permissive, not mandatory, piece of legislation, which leaves it very much an unsettled issue.  Nevertheless in some dioceses it is impossible to be ordained if one does not (or does) support the ordination of women.  

Since the original writing of this article, the Episcopal Church has mandated that any person who holds any position of authority, although he may believe what he likes, may act and vote only on the supposition that the ordination of women is good and right in the eyes of God, and may not inhibit any person from holding any office on the grounds of sex.  We are heading down the same track on the issue of homosexuality.  It it is now an actionable offense in Canada to publish that homosexuality is wrong or sinful.  [On this matter of humanism affecting the Church of God, see R. J. Rushdoony's article The Death of an Age & It's Faith.]

That fact is testimony to the nature of the issue: there is no half way about it.  It must ultimately be either all or nothing.  It is not like wearing clerical collars, which done at a particular parish does not affect the life of the neighboring parish.  Clergy are ordained to the whole Church whereas vestments are not.  To have a segment of clergy who are not acceptable to a portion of the Church is an unacceptable state of affairs.  Christians rightly feel passionately about the matter.

There are calls to stop wasting time with "mere housekeeping" matters and to get on with the real job of the Church -- implying that women's ordination is a peripheral issue.  That is clearly not true for partisans on either side.  If it were a peripheral issue, we could either ordain women or not and no one would be upset.  It may be housekeeping, but it is not "mere".

Now that the ordination of women is an accomplished fact, it is very difficult to continue the open discussion of the issues. Those who have won (so to speak) want to call it a "peripheral" issue to prevent it from being raised again.  And those opposed to the ordination of women do not want to bring personal offense to the many who have invested themselves into the process, often very capable and beloved sisters in Christ.  The issue is not over the quality of the women who have sought ordination.  One can argue about the quality of the men as easily as the quality of the women.

The issue is simply this: all other things being equal, does being a man or a woman make a difference to the priesthood -- such that God would be for or against women being ordained?

If there is no clear divine mandate one way or the other, and if it makes no significant difference, then there is no worthwhile argument.  If it is not for some good reason forbidden, then it might indeed be correct to treat the matter as a "civil rights" issue.  The divine mandate, if there is one, is not direct.  There is no Scriptural verse which says either that only men or that both men and women can be ordained to the priesthood.  The mandate either way must be inferred from the words, principles, or events of Scripture coupled with our knowledge of human psychology and sociology.

The decision to ordain women taken in 1976 was taken, in my perception, in the absence of consensus on either a theology of the priesthood or a theology of human sexuality, quite enough in itself to make the decision a foolish one. The issue was promoted on a civil rights basis because that is all we knew how to do, rather than on an understanding of the relation between the nature of God and human nature, and how those things are connected to the mission and life of the Church. This could happen only because the Christian community is tragically fractured in its perception of how Scripture is to be taken as the authoritative document for faith and practice, and has all but lost its ability to argue and discuss theologically, or, one might say, reasonably, on any issue at all.

* * *

For about a hundred years, the secular world had the field of psychology completely to itself.  Freud, Adler, and Jung sought to apply to the study of human nature all those techniques which had been so astoundingly successful in the physical sciences.  Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, and others then carried the secularization of human psychology and human sexuality to its logical and disastrous conclusion.  And during that hundred years of downhill slide into sexual and gender chaos, the Christian community has had no substantial response to make.

The Christian community, not at all with an easy conscience, simply bowed out of the public arena, only dimly, or not at all, suspecting, that the Bible might have a psychology all of its own, or that our psychological development might also require salvation and sanctification.  [For a remedy to this, see Biblical Inner Healing, my take on a Biblical understanding of psychology.]

The result is that the Christian community is operating, for the most part, on a secular understanding of human nature. A major part of the division in the Church today hangs on the fact that the Christian community is trying to build a Biblical understanding of life on a secular foundation.  But because Biblical principles do not fit with a secular psychology, one or the other must give.

And given they have.  The Church has split between those who opt for the secular understanding of life and those who opt for the Biblical understanding -- but who are unable (because unaware) to present any Biblical account of human nature which might effectively counter the secular.

The myth persists that "science" (i.e., the scientific community) is objective and impartial and truth oriented, contrasted with religion (i.e., religious people) which is subjective and thus the special bailiwick of hucksters and charlatans. And so in any public contest between Bible and science, science wins. The truth is that while any science (including theological) is indeed impartial and truth oriented, scientists are not (whether natural or theological). The "scientific" community (i.e. natural science) is at least as riddled with scandal and fraud as has been the religious community, with the difference that the scandals, e.g. of Kinsey and the American Psychiatric Association, are not given headlines along with televangelists.

It would seem either that mere "housekeeping" issues are making hard-nosed bigots of us all, or that we face issues with the deepest kind of implications, issues on which there will not, because there cannot be, peaceful and intimate co-existence. One side or the other will "win", the other will "lose".

God in His wisdom, however, manages the universe such that, if we forget about winning or losing and just look for the truth, we all win. It is not winning, but the truth, that sets us free. And, as Jesus indicated in that often-quoted-out-of-context verse (John 8:31 ff.), the truth will come only as we keep His word and be His disciples.

And so the following arguments are offered in that spirit, a search for the truth of the matter -- passionately, but open to hearing the other side. The relation of all this to women's ordination may not be immediately apparent, but read on. In these hard issues, let us covenant together to be lovers of souls and seekers of truth.

* * *

It is the contention of this paper that the reactions of those who find the ordination of women disturbing do not (necessarily) come from buried resentment, fear, or dislike of women but come (sometimes) from an unarticulated sense of the violation of the very core of our covenant relation with God and of the theological and therefore ontological realities upon which that covenant rests.

There is, I believe, both a masculine and a feminine side to God revealed in Scripture which gives us objective patterns which sets the Biblical worldview off from all other views of life, and by which legitimate masculine and feminine roles can be judged.
(Note: see worldview diagrams for information on gender in God.)

II. A Picture of Biblical Theology

Figure 1 below gives a diagram of the Biblical worldview -- the relation between God and the created order. The line coming down from God  up in heaven, circling on the right under the cosmos, symbolizes the "hand of God" upon which we all stand -- the power of God to create something out of nothing, the power of being, the ground of all created being.

Figure 1
(See Biblical Worldview diagram)
The Hand of God and the Voice of God

Standing on the hand of God pictures our absolute dependency on God. Only the hand of God stands between us and non-being. God is the sub-stantial being of our life, (literally, that which stands under, that which undergirds and gives substance to).  We have no autonomous, self-sufficient, independent substance of our own. We must rely upon the hand of God for substance to our lives. Being me is something I receive, not something I do.

A part of the Fall is our misperception that there is, or could be, some other ground on which we can stand, some other source of our being, some other circumstance upon which we could depend for our sustaining power. In particular we want to find that substance within ourselves -- we would be as God.  Eastern religions resolve this problem by just that claim, that I am the Divine entity, the of the substance of the Divine. 

The line and arrow coming down from the left symbolizes something quite different -- the voice of God which calls to us, the word which gives us a name, a purpose, and a direction. It is the voice which brings the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai, or becomes the incarnate Word of God in Christ. It is God calling out His purpose for existence to that which He has called into being.

Some of those beings called into existence by God are given freewill. As they stand on the hand of God, they can choose to obey or disobey the voice of God. We might picture the cosmos as a gigantic arrow, the direction of the arrow signifying the direction the universe is called to take, the direction toward the emerging Kingdom. Each of us is given a place in the scheme and workings of that big arrow. We all fit somewhere to help it proceed to its ultimate direction. We can choose to line ourselves up with the direction of that arrow and thereby contribute to where it is going.

But any one of us can also choose to go in a direction contrary to the purpose of existence.  We can choose on our local level to turn in a direction contrary to that of the Big Arrow of existence in which we live.  We can rebel, we can choose to take from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and thereby lose access to the Tree of Life.

A special relation exists between the hand of God and the voice of God, necessary to the way in which God relates to His creation. That is -- even when we do not obey the voice of God, God will not withdraw His hand. The gift of being is given without repentance. It is a free and unconditional gift. No matter how badly I sin, God will hold me in existence. The rain, the provision for life, as Jesus said, falls on the just and the unjust. Natural law works just as well for the non-believing as for the believing scientist.

But the cosmic arrow will go on moving toward the Kingdom whether we choose to align ourselves with it or not. Natural law happens without our consent, and so does spiritual law.

The consequences of choosing to follow our independent direction are fatal, but not because God pushes us off His hand into the abyss of nothingness. The rebel dies because the universe is so finely tuned that it works only one way, the way of God's plan. By choosing to go in a direction contrary to God, we step off the hand of God. It is our choice, not God's (see The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis). The more disobedient we become, the further we cut ourselves off from dependency on God for life-giving support. And we are separated from the substance of life (which undergird us) and cast onto the circum-stances of life (those things that stand around us). We try to make circum-stance do the work of sub-stance. The results are necessarily fatal.

Moving off the hand of God, we less and less experience the ground of our being as a free gift of grace. And then, because we cannot tolerate living with our very being constantly at risk, we ourselves must do something about the matter. We take the matter out of the hand of God into our own hands. We compulsively try to build our own ground, put our own substance under our feet. We try to be ourselves by what we do. Being ourselves, instead of something we receive, becomes something we do.

The New Testament calls this salvation by works rather than grace. We find ourselves trying to earn our right to exist, wanting to put those beings we think are holding us in existence into our debt. We try to please them, doing good things, right things, socially acceptable things. We do it first with our parents and siblings, then with our friends, and then with God.

Salvation is God drawing us back onto His hand, teaching us again to be dependent on Him so that our being is secure. When our being is secure, then our doing is liberated from compulsively struggling to secure ourselves against the threat of being a nobody. We are able to respond freely to the voice of God and to obey His commandments.

The primary gift of grace, then, is the gift of being, the knowledge and experience that we rest securely in the hand of God and that nothing, "neither death nor life...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

III. The Crucial Space

The hand and voice of God are the power and authority of God. This power of God is not legions of angels. It is not chariots and horses, Abrams tanks, stealth bombers, or nuclear arsenal. It is not muscle, nor economic or political clout. Jesus employed none of these, even though all were at His disposal.

And yet with none of these Jesus exhibited a power that was beyond the capability of his foes to fight -- the ability to be himself regardless of the circumstances around him. He had substance to his being. No one could find any leverage to coerce Jesus to back down and be less than Jesus. In the deep integrity of his being, Jesus was always safe. And so, regardless of what people in his circumstances did, he always reappeared no less himself than when he began. That is extraordinary because no one else has the ability to do that. Given sufficient pressure, any of us will buckle and break.

The voice of God is His ability to define the purpose for existence of anything that exists. We all intuitively know what that means. When we find some object which we do not understand, we try to find the person who made it to explain it to us. Since he made it, he must know what it is for.

The purpose for existence is the basis for all objective authority and moral principle. As Ivan said to Alyosha in Dostoyevski's, The Brothers Karamazov, "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted!" If there is no Creator who can give purpose for existence to things, then (more accurately) "nothing is forbidden" -- because no one has authority to permit or forbid anything. There is no one in the universe with objective authority at all. So, everyone does what is right in his own eyes -- there being nothing else to do.

The purpose for existence given by God is the building of His kingdom, a family of mutual love and support. God has unilaterally created us and called us into that purpose with Him. But God wants our response to be a free and loving response. In making such a requirement, God has put certain restraints upon Himself. He must give us the ability to say "no". He must, that is, give us freewill. He does not want robots in His Kingdom. So the process of creation and the process of drawing us, indeed commanding us, into that Kingdom must be designed to respect that freewill. It must on one hand command the ultimate direction and purpose without compromise. On the other hand it must allow us to say "no".

And that is one of the great mysteries of Biblical religion, contemplated by no other -- that persons with their being guaranteed by God regardless of whether they said "yes" or "no" would freely say "yes" and joyfully submit themselves to His ultimate and binding authority. To nurture, set free, and at the same time command this created will was THE GREAT PROBLEM which God set for Himself.

* * *

The creature lives in that space between the hand and the voice. For the person to experience as life sustaining both the gift of being and the gift of purpose, the space between the voice and the hand must be at a precise distance.

A spark plug on an internal combustion engine (see fig. 2 below) has an air gap between two electrodes, the positive electrode from which flows the current, and the ground or negative electrode to which the current flows. If the gap on the spark plug is too close, the system will short circuit and there will be no spark to ignite the gasoline. On the other hand, if the distance between the electrodes is too far, there will also be no spark because the distance is too far for the electricity to jump. There is an ideal distance at which the sparkplug must be set for it to produce the longest and hottest spark which will ignite the gasoline most efficiently.  


     Figure 2  The Sparkplug Gap

Similarly, if the distance between the voice of God and the hand of God is too close, if the voice of God crowds the person who is standing on His hand with threat and reprisal, then the effective freewill of the person will be short circuited. If the voice of God crowds in with oppressive conditions -- "I will not love you unless you obey Me, obey Me or I will beat up on you" -- then that person will be unable to respond to God freely and lovingly, but will respond to God rather out of the terror of being an unloved nobody. The response will not be a free gift of love. The person will be so compulsively earning the good will of God because of God's conditional love that he will be unable to give the free and loving response for which God is asking. We will become robots because the freedom of our wills will deteriorate. We then compulsively fall into salvation by works, trying to be me by what I do -- exactly what God does not want from us.

The voice of God must therefore "back off" a bit, to give elbow room to the person standing on His hand so that that person can respond out of his own integrity as a person. God must, that is, respect that created being as an object in his or her own right. God has created beings who can effect God's own history in the creating of His Kingdom. And that is why the rain falls on the just and the unjust.

It does not take much imagination to see where such a story might lead, knowing that those beings who stand on the hand of God, guaranteed their personhood, are also those beings who can spit in the face of God and perpetrate unnamable horrors upon each other. It is these beings whom God has bound Himself to love unconditionally, to support, to hold in His hand, -- and to command.

But though the Voice must back off a bit, He cannot walk out on the conversation. We need God for purpose and meaning. Created beings require meaning and purpose from some place outside of themselves. So God must not withdraw as the deist Clockmaker, uncaring and unconcerned, letting people tick away their lives, run down, and die, or God perhaps returning for an occasional rewind. The Voice of God must find that distance from His hand which nurtures and at the same time disciplines such that the requirements of the voice do not override but rather affirm the sustaining power of the hand, and yet at the same time are no less the commanding voice of God.

It is the existence of this "space" between the hand and the voice of God that allows created freewill to flourish. Without this space, freewill either will be overridden and crushed by authority demands it cannot handle, or will run amuck in self-will, turn in on itself, and die for lack of external, objective meaning and purpose.

IV. Gender and Creation

What, one might ask, has all this to do with the ordination of women? The answer is revealed in the Scripture verse which connects theology with psychology with sexology: Genesis 1:26-8.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

The issue is illustrated by two sets of definitions: 'male/female' and 'masculine/feminine'. Sex is 'male-female'. Gender is 'masculine-feminine'.

People readily understand sex, that 'male/female' refers to biological generative equipment. Males are those with a certain kind of genital organs and females are those with a radically different but at the same time uniquely corresponding kind of genital organs.

But when one asks for a definition of gender, 'masculine' and 'feminine', one is likely to get a puzzled and even frightened look. One is not quite sure it is allowed in these days of anti-sexism to have a definition for these terms. But if one gently persists, one is likely to be told that it is all a relative matter. The Chinese imagine it one way, the Eskimos another, aborigines a third, and so on. There is no "right" way. Each culture must define its own sense of masculine and feminine. It is all relative.

If one looks to the dictionary, one is likely to read for 'masculine' -- 'attitudes or behavior appropriate to a male'. And likewise for 'feminine' -- '....appropriate to a female'. The relativists still win because the dictionary does not tell us what is "appropriate". We know little more than we did before, so we make it up ourselves as we go.

The secular world is left to defining 'masculine' and 'feminine' from the biological givens. The given is males and females, and so we try to derive gender qualities from the biological facts. But there is not enough information in the biology of the situation to tell us what attitudes or behavior could be called "appropriate", certainly in the obligatory sense. The sweeping range of human behaviors and attitudes which are given masculine and feminine gender in every human culture cannot be derived from biology, even though they seem clearly related to biology. Either gender assignment was all a mistake in the first place, or we just made it all up, or it comes from some place other than biology.

Biblical culture, like every other culture, has its definitions of what is appropriately masculine and feminine. But the Bible does not begin, as does the secular world, "In the beginning biology...." The Bible begins with God, a spiritual being. No biology was yet to be seen. But in the creation story, God has in mind to create a world that is a reflection of Himself. And so, on the sixth day, at the creation of the human race, we read the verse quoted above. Human beings were to be an image of God, an outward and visible sign of the spiritual reality that is God, bearing the likeness and image of God in their own flesh.

The "image of God" is commonly assumed to include our capacities for free choice, reason, love, feelings, relationships, and many others. But our sexual nature is the only quality specifically pointed out in the Bible as made in the divine image -- male and female. Something very important is being underlined in the creation story -- which is he foundation of all else that follows in Scripture.

The nature of God is the pattern for the nature of humanity, including our sexual nature. God is not a physical being, so our sexual nature is not a copy of something physically in God. Hence there must be something spiritual in God of which men are an image. And likewise there must be something spiritual in God of which women are an image. And since men and women are discernibly different as humans, one must conclude that that in God of which we are respectively an image must also be discernibly different. And further, since in humans, maleness and femaleness are not only different but profoundly compatible and complementary, one must assume that those spiritual elements are likewise profoundly different and yet totally compatible and complementary in God.

We are driven to conclude that in God there are two spiritual qualities, namely masculinity and femininity, and that we have been looking for the definitions of these two in exactly the wrong place, in the world rather than in God.

The discussion in the world about how to define these terms is turned exactly backwards. In the Bible, instead of gender derived from sex, we find sex derived from gender. Gender exists primordially in God, and sex is just one of the many instances of gender which God is expressing in the world.

Conservative Christians have had good reason to be suspicious of a feminine element in God, for the fallen counterpoint to the whole of revelation history, right up to the present including modern secular materialism, has been the image of "the Great Mother" in one of her many manifestations. The Great Mother has been the primary competitor against God for the hearts and loyalties of the human race. Where the Great Mother reigns, father is swallowed up in her eternal and lethal embrace. No father figure can exist or emerge which can stand on terms equal with the Great Mother.

The Great Mother is the eternal timeless womb of unformed existence out of which all other things emerge, including the gods and goddesses, including the world of time and space, ancient pagan, Newtonian, or Einsteinian, in which we live and move and have our being. It is the worldview of the Fall, the self-sufficient world of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which must necessarily end in self-destruction. So we are well advised to be very careful when we think we find a feminine element in our theology.

But the feminine is nevertheless by act of God here to stay, and if my interpretation is right, in the nature of God. The issue is not one of masculine and feminine inherently competing against each other, for here is no such thing as a masculine without a feminine, any more than there can be a right without a left. Each of the two always logically implies the other.

The question is not whether there is a feminine in God, but rather: Can the Biblical view of God handle the masculine and the feminine aspects of life so that they are mutually compatible? Or is the Biblical view as incapable of that "wedding" as the fallen world of the Great Mother? Can the Biblical view bring harmony between mothering and fathering, masculine and feminine, which we all require for emotional and spiritual wholeness?

The startling truth is that only within the Biblical worldview is there never a question of an eternal "battle of the sexes" as in the fallen world of the Great Mother. There is never a hint within the Biblical view of God of an eternal struggle within the Godhead. The unity of all aspects of God is sealed from eternity. And that is precisely why the image of God can successfully be the image for unity within any aspect of human life. God knows how we can put together all the aspects of life because they are already being lived out within God. It is only in the fallen, "self-sufficient" world of the Great Mother that the polarities of life, such as masculine/feminine, are inherently and eternally at war.

V. Gender in God

Granted gender characteristics within God, how might they resonate with our human experience of masculinity and femininity? How could the Biblical understanding of masculinity and femininity indeed be the pattern for conducting our lives in a Godly way?

The masculine is not difficult to locate. God is known as Father in both Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God is Father not of individuals, but of the tribe, the clan, the nation. Then when Jesus claims God as his personal Father, the fullness of the Fatherhood of God becomes evident. It is precisely that Fatherhood of God which the Son comes to share with human beings as individuals. God wants to be my Father as well as our Father.

The qualities traditionally ascribed to human fathering in the Bible, and also understood to inhere in God supremely, are those of authority, protector, provider, and moral teacher. These have been understood in western civilization for most of 20 centuries. Fathering is a family image. The Hebrews were the first civilization to incorporate the father intimately into the family and child raising process.

The Hebrew word for father is 'AB', as in 'Abraham', 'father of a multitude'. The root meaning of the word 'AB' is 'he who decides' or 'the deciding one'. It was not an accident of culture that the Hebrew father was understood to be the head of his household. That was the revelation of God to the Hebrew people of the nature of the fathering role.

The core of the masculine image in Scripture is spiritual authority. The decision making of God for our ultimate purpose for existence establishes God as the Head, the Leader, the King of creation. God is our AB, our Deciding One. He is the Author-ity because He is the Author.

Authority has to do with our behavior and therefore our wills. We receive authority to do something. Because authority focuses on the will and is totally encompassing and enveloping, it can therefore do great harm or great good.

But what are we to make of the feminine aspect of God, which seems to be as hidden as the masculine side is evident. It is pointed out to those who are trying create "inclusive language" liturgies that very few passages in Scripture ascribe feminine characteristics to God. And those passages are almost universally metaphorical rather than univocal, as in Isaiah 60:

I will comfort him even as one whom his own mother comforts.

God is "like" a mothering figure. We never read that God is our Mother.

But the matter runs considerably deeper. Characteristics commonly and traditionally attributed to God, the Holy Spirit, are heavily weighted in the feminine direction. In the creed we say that we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. When Jesus talked to Nicodemus, he told Nicodemus that if he wanted to see the kingdom of God, he would have to be born a second time, born of the Spirit into God's family. Jesus referred to the Comforter whom he would send. We talk of being one in the Spirit. We are integrated and united in the Spirit.

These characteristics, it will be rightly said, point to a mothering activity of God, but not necessarily to the being of God in the sense that authority is part of the being of God. Nevertheless, a true complement to authority would be equally grounded in the very being of God, not merely metaphorically similar.

We need a feminine quality which can thus stand on a par with the masculine quality of spiritual authority. Anything less would not create a true marriage of equals, i.e. a true complementarity. The mothering side of God could not then stand equal to the fathering side. And anything more than the fathering side would tilt the other way, catapulting us again into the fallen world of the Great Mother where Mother swallows Father. There are no "Great Fathers" in the fallen world. We need a marriage of different-but-equals, true complements.

There is one quality noted throughout Scripture commonly associated with the Holy Spirit, but which few have associated with femininity -- namely, spiritual power. Spiritual power is the feminine quality which can stand on terms equal with spiritual authority.

Power in the world we associate with those things which enable one to get his own way in the circumstances of life, power to coerce and control events to one's liking. It is the power of doing.

Spiritual power, however, is not a means of manipulating circumstances to our own ends. Spiritual power is not the power of doing. It is the power of being, the ability to be myself in the circumstances of my life.

Jesus had the power of being and the authority for doing balanced perfectly within himself because he stood squarely on the provision of God for his life and he obeyed the voice of God. A person who has that sub-stantial power and authority cannot be stopped by any circum-stances.

Several names for God occur in the Old Testament. There is El Elyon or God Most High. There is Adonai or Lord. There is Yahweh or I AM. And there is El Shaddai or God Omnipotent, God Almighty.

The Hebrew root 'shad', which is translated 'powerful', means 'breast', so that El Shaddai can be translated, 'the Mighty Breasted One', or 'Self-Powering One', or 'Self Nurturing One' or 'Self-Sufficient One'. It can hardly be an accident that almighty power in Scripture is associated with nurturing power, the ability to give being and substance to others because one has it self-sufficiently oneself.

A newborn infant has no ability to survive and make its way in the world on its own. If the parents desert, the infant dies. An infant is powerless and therefore does not have the ability to exist independently of outside help. And from whom does the infant get that ability to be at the beginning of its life? Mother. Adults know that the power of being comes from God. But for the child it comes from mother. In the womb, mother is God, the cosmos, and self all wrapped up in one cosmic organism. Mother is our Ground, the one in whom we live and move and have our being.

Only gradually after birth does the child begin to experience a sense of individuality and separateness from mother. And even then the child is psychologically bonded to mother for several years. Mother is the source of being, and bonding is the process by which the child takes on board the mother's security of being.

Ontological security is therefore the primal gift of mother to the infant, providing the necessary foundation upon which everything else in the child's life will be based. If that base is secure, then the child has a good start toward coming into that abundant life which God promises. If that foundation is lacking, the child will spend the rest of its life trying to make up for it, feverishly treading water in a non-supportive environment.

Two themes interweave throughout revelation history, (1) the power of God to undergird and provide for our lives and (2) the authority of God over our lives to give meaning and direction. Power and authority are the warp and the woof on God's loom of creation as builds with us His Kingdom.

"Trust and obey" are likewise the warp and woof of the creature's response to the Creator's power and authority. Trusting means bonding. We begin bonding with our mothers, but our journey into spiritual maturity leads finally to bonding with God. We mature to live our lives standing on His provision, no longer depending on our mother or other circumstances around us.

Likewise, our obedience is primarily to our fathers as the spiritual heads of our homes. But we eventually leave the family nest (those tumultuous teenage rebellion years) launched into our journey of obedience to God Himself. To be fully dependent on God and to be fully obedient to God is the definition of spiritual maturity.

Persons who balk at accepting the feminine side of God have no hesitation in accepting the power of being as a primordial aspect of the nature of God. Power of being is, after all, not very sexy. But the world's view of sexuality is hardly what God had in mind. Sex is taken off center stage and replaced by gender because sex is only one of the multitude of ways in which we express the divine gender nature. The masculine and feminine aspects of ourselves are continually being expressed in every activity of our lives.

Jesus' words to Nicodemus then take on a startling significance. To be born "again" means to be born into God's family. As we became children of our human parents through being mothered and fathered by them, just so we become children of God through being mothered and fathered by God. That is, we transfer dependency for our being away from the circumstances of our lives to God, and we transfer spiritual obedience away from the circumstances around us to God.

To be a mature, freestanding adult in the world, one must be a child in God -- the final solution to all "co-dependency" problems.

VI. The Need for Separate and Distinct Gender Roles

When God noted in the Garden that it was not good for the man to be alone, He might have had Adam's loneliness in mind. But more profoundly He had in mind, one must suppose, the fulfilling of His original purpose that mankind should be made in His image. Adam being the male of the species was uniquely equipped to embody the masculine authority of God, but not so well equipped to embody the feminine power of being. For that he needed a "help meet for him", someone fitting to stand by his side and in sacramental marriage to carry together the image of God on earth.

From God's point of view, gender roles are not those "oppressive sexist roles" of which we currently hear. They are the very gift of life. God is bestowing His own nature upon us.

The writers of the American Constitution divided the powers of government into three branches, creating checks and balances so that no branch could run rough shod other another. Each would have its powers to rein in the others.

God divided up power and authority likewise between us in the human race. Because we would be therefore mutually dependent, the human enterprise would not progress until we learned to use our gender gifts for the welfare and benefit of each other. If each of us possessed both power and authority independently of the other, it would quickly go to our heads, and we would, as the serpent tempts us, want to be as gods, our own self-sufficient, autonomous beings.

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A second reason for the division of labor between mothers and fathers arises out of the very nature of growing up, which requires the monumental task of becoming independent of mother.

Our first and primal dependency is on our mothers. For the first nine months of our existence, mother is all that we know. If in a healthy emotional atmosphere, there will be a bonding between mother and infant through which the power of being will flow into the open spirit of the child. The child feasts on mother, physically and spiritually.

But the very nurturing given by mother ironically also creates in the child that growing sense of separateness and desire for independence, putting the child in a bind. His desire for independence runs exactly counter to his experience of dependency on mother as the source of being. To separate from mother is to separate from Being, and therefore suicidal.

But not to worry. God has designed the family structure so that as the child peers out from that safe circle of mother's domain, wondering what is out there and whether it will be safe for him to venture, he spots someone standing on his own feet independently of mother -- i.e., his father. And slowly, beginning at least by 3 or 4, getting into high gear by 6 and 7, the "God image" migrates from mother to father. The child begins to bond with father as the image of "what it is to be a Somebody". Then about 8, the child begins to move away from both father and mother to role models beyond the family nest.

Father therefore is the stepping stone for the child to move from dependency on mother on the journey perilous out into the wider world. It takes a dependency to cure a dependency. Father represents independence from mother and freestanding adulthood. Something in the child begins to think -- "That is what I want to be like, standing on my own feet in the world."

Mother in this scheme of things represent my Source, whereas father represents my Goal. Alpha and Omega. Mother is the one who ushers me out into the world, father is the one who calls me out into the world. Obviously this gender dynamic works best if mother and father have a mutually supportive attitude toward one another so that each can contribute his or her gift to the child's journey of maturation without being undermined by the other. The child, boy or girl, requires the gifts both of power and authority.

Blurring the roles of power and authority will render the crucial distance between them inoperable. The spark will either short out or not bridge the gap. One cannot have that necessary emotional and spiritual distance between mothering and fathering when the distinction between them is blurred.

As the child is pointed by the parents on through the stages of this journey, and as the child sees the parents kneeling dependently and obediently before Someone greater than themselves, the child will more easily be able to negotiate his or her way through the dependency relations from mother to father to God.

The masculine role has often been criticized for being distant and unavailable. One does not wish to excuse unavailability in men to either spouses or children. But there is a psychologically and spiritually necessary distance which the man has naturally -- because the child comes into the world bonding primarily to mother, not father. The child bonds to mother, and then precisely because father is separate, he can become the stepping stone for the child on the way out from mother into the world.

This arrangement also helps insure that authority will not be imposed on the child until the child has first established its ground of being. Mothering comes first, then fathering -- precisely and necessarily what helps keep fathering authority from being rigid, authoritarian, and oppressive.

Clearly, this model of emotional and spiritual growth implies parental gender roles that are strong, articulate, and mutually supportive. Such a family would be the healthiest possible environment within which a child could grow into adulthood. It is not only morally imperative, it is very much to our personal advantage, to learn the hard lessons of gender cooperation.

Ephesians 5:21 ff. all over again. .

VII. The A-Symmetry of Power and Authority

The relation between power and authority is not a symmetrical one. Power and authority, masculine and feminine, are not mutually interchangeable. They are a genuine complementarity: fundamentally different, yet mutually implying each other.

Feminine power and masculine authority are necessarily the warp and woof of any view of life in which created and purposive beings are the essential building blocks of reality.

It is evident, then, contrary to the unisex vision of life, that it does indeed make a difference in certain important aspects of life whether a man or a woman does a particular activity. These differences are not limited to the mere biological functions such that only women can bear and only men can beget children.

If we begin with biology to define gender, we will indeed end up with a unisex gender picture. But if we begin with the power and authority of God as the meaning of gender, and if we understand the process of human maturation as growth out from dependency on mother by way of father into freestanding adulthood (a child in God and therefore an adult in the world), and that sexual experience is only one of the many ways in which gender is expressed, then the whole range of gender characteristics about which we can wax so poetic suddenly become very vital indeed. We first need to understand gender before we can understand sex.

The a-symmetry of gender is portrayed by the source and ushering role of mother contrasted with the calling and directing role of father. Women have ushering power of being. Men have calling authority for doing. These gifts clearly are not hard and fast, nor absolutely distinct between men and women. Every man has power of being, and every woman has authority for doing. It is a matter of relationship and balance. But men are designed to major in authority and minor in power, women are designed to major in power and minor in authority.

Given that asymmetry, what is the relation that should obtain between power and authority? How do masculine beings and feminine beings relate to each other ideally?

Given that I have power and authority in myself, how would I want that power and that authority to relate to each other? How would I want my power of being to relate to my choosing and willing and deciding?

Clearly, whether man or woman, one would want the power to create in oneself to be under the direction of the authority in oneself. Power is in that sense to submit to authority. Power without authority is chaos. If every time I made a decision, part of me went the other way, I would be in a state of dis-integration.

On the other hand, authority without power is im-potence -- power-lessness. If when I decided something, nothing at all happened, or happened erratically, my life could not function. When I command my legs to walk, I want them to walk. Successful doing happens only when power and authority unite.

Chaos and powerlessness are both signs of personal disintegration. Life requires this marriage of power and authority, their only reasonable relation in any context. We as individuals, whether men or women, would dis-integrate if the power within our lives were not submitted to the authority within our lives.

These same principles apply to community life and to the Body of Christ. The Biblical community is a macrocosm of the individual body (as Paul notes).

The deeper we dig, the more startling the asymmetry of the complementarity: two things radically different but wholly in need of each other to make a larger whole.

In the fallen world these complements cannot successfully be joined. The battle of the sexes will be carried at one level or another. But in God, in whose image we are made, there is not the least hint of these complements being at war.

That is why we must find the image of gender in God, for in no other place will we find them compatible (from the Latin, 'cum' + 'patior', 'suffering together' or 'allowing together'). And that is why Jesus replied to the question on divorce: "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder." What is eternally joined in God, let not man put asunder in himself.

Because of this complementarity, humans have a built-in blind spot on their contra-gender side. Men tend to have a blind spot which leaves them weak in "just being". Men who are insecure on their feminine side therefore tend to become compulsive doers, work-a-holics, and thus compulsive seekers after what they are missing, symbolized in women. Women who are comfortable and secure being themselves therefore need to support men on their blind side by ensuring that Godly power of being is continually being fed into the family and culture. Woe to that culture whose women become spiritual work-a-holics.

Women tend to have a blind spot on the authority for doing side. Women who are not secure in their own sense of authority will tend to feel authority as oppressive, and either yield like a doormat or use their feminine power to manipulate, control, get their way, and likewise seductively seek after what they are missing, symbolized in men. Men who are secure, and thus non-controlling in their authority, therefore need to support women on their blind side by ensuring that Godly moral guidelines and spiritual direction are firmly and fairly kept. Woe to that culture whose men become spiritually effeminate.

Unisex is the least stable of the choices because it is logically impossible to construct a symmetrical and interchangeable gender relation. The failure of the gender gifts will therefore lead to a reversal, not equalization, of gender roles: the spiritual masculinizing of women and the spiritual feminizing of men. 

VIII. Two Kinds of Mothering

Feminists are speaking for recognition of the feminine in God with the hope that such would prove that "equality equals sameness". It could then be maintained that women ought to have access to the same roles and subject to the same obligations as men and vice-versa, that we are really after all quite interchangeable. The substantial difference between masculinity and femininity would disappear along with the profound complementarity.

But to investigate the matter is to discover not equality=sameness, but rather a true complementarity -- two kinds of personhood that are radically different but entirely in need of each other.

Fear of equality=sameness inspires much of the conservative reaction to the feminine in God. The Great Mother will always swallow Father. Within the Great Mother system there can be no Father, only fathers, only Big Brothers, only wanna-be Fathers who cycle in and out of the cosmic womb, or who are only satellites around Heavy Weight Mother. It is logically impossible within the Great Mother system to have a Father who can stand on terms equal with the Great Mother. A legitimate "marriage" cannot happen. Father is at best a kept man. Something within the masculine soul knows that equality=sameness must lead to his own emasculation under the power of the Great Mother. Within the world, that is a legitimate fear.

In the Biblical world, it is a needless fear because the Father is in no danger from anything within the Godhead -- and certainly not from the world. God is totally secure and at peace within Himself. The feminine side of God rejoices at the voice of the Father, and the Power of Being joyfully brings forth what the Word of God commands.

That is hard to imagine in our "consciousness raised" culture. But then it has been always hard to imagine from within the fallen world that power would devotedly submit to authority and that freedom would faithfully submit to direction. How different the world would be if commands were an occasion for rejoicing: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet...."

The ontology of equality=sameness brings with it also that fatal identification of God with the cosmos which is the identifying mark of paganism and secularism, both ancient and modern. The primal gift of Old Testament religion, ethical monotheism, is the clear separation between God and the cosmic order, which is the Biblical doctrine of creation. This distinction is the continental divide between Biblical and non-Biblical religion.

It is an error, however, to assume that that eternal distinction between Creator and created evacuates femininity from the Godhead wholly into creation. The Creator-creation distinction rather gives us two fundamentally different and opposing ways in which the complementarity of masculine and feminine are to be understood -- both in God and in the world. Given the Great Mother, the complementarity will always devolve into an ambiguous pendulum swing between creation and life vs. annihilation and death. And masculine individuality (for both men and women) will be the principle subject of this chaotic pendulum swing.

The difference between the universe of Yahweh and that of the Great Mother is not that the Biblical God has no feminine, but rather that in God the feminine and masculine are what they can never be in the Great Mother -- fully and totally and eternally wedded. Can it be an accident that the Bible begins in a marriage, ends in a marriage, that right in the middle (almost) is the Song of Solomon, and that God uses marital and gender imagery all through Scripture to describe our relation to Himself? When God declares that we are made in His image male and female, it is clear that God does not consider feminine imagery a threat.

It is not the feminine in God that blurs the distinction between God and the cosmos. Rather it is the blurring of the distinction between God and the cosmos that messes up the feminine in God -- and necessarily the masculine also, since they are always complementary reflections one of the other.

The distinction is blurred between God and cosmos not by the feminine in God, but rather by exactly what the story of the Fall in Genesis tells us, rebellion against the sovereignty of God. It is our separation from the authority of God, choosing to step out of range of His voice, that always leads us off His hand also. Our being is then no longer a free gift, and authority is only power struggle. Life is experienced in terms dictated by the closed system of the fallen cosmos -- the realm of which Satan is prince.

Many Christians are comfortable with the feminine gender if that is kept to the world and not located in God. Mother is alright, even mother nature and Mother Church. But not in God, thank you.

If the above assessment is correct, however, that the power of being is the primordial feminine element of our lives, and if, tracing the hand upon which we stand, following the power of being to its source, we bump into God, then we are driven to the conclusion that there is indeed a feminine element in God. The power of being must come from God. Power of being not from God is from the world. But to locate the power of being in the world would be indeed to fall into the warmly ambiguous embrace of the Great Mother. The activity of creation is God's activity.

It is also precisely the mothering activity as creation which establishes that crucial "gap" between God and the cosmos. We are not born of God, we are creatures of God. That creating "mothering" activity of God is what gives us an identity separate from God, whom we then, being created and therefore separate, experience as Father - separate. It is ironically the mothering activity of God that makes us experience Him as separate and therefore Father.

We then embark on a spiritual growth journey across the chasms of chance and fortune to God, to find ourselves adopted as children of God. We are born "anothen" (in the Greek), meaning "again", "afresh", "anew", -- or "from above". We need to be adopted because we are not, as Jesus, natural birth children of God.

Our confusion on this issue has been caused by our conflating two kinds of mothering. If mothering is the activity of providing being and life and substance, then there is (1) a creating kind of mothering in which we receive our flesh life, and (2) a birthing kind of mothering in which we receive our spiritual life -- the two kinds of birthing to which Jesus pointed Nicodemus (John 3:1-ll). The Biblical doctrine of creation separates these two out from each other, whereas the ontology of the Great Mother conflates them.

The creating mothering of God is that which by the nature of experience is immediate to us, because any experience is by nature immediate. But the Cause, God, is ontologically a step removed from the effect, i.e., us. That distance from God, standing on His hand, is the ontological space which provides for our free, loving, and supremely reasonable response which is the Kingdom relationship.

Birth mothering on the model of the Great Mother, on the other hand, gives identity, not distinction, between us and "mother". That is why we call Jesus the only begotten Son. We are created, He is begotten. He is of "one substance" or "one being" with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Hindus see holy men the same as Christ because they are all equally of one substance with the Divine. They did not get born "anothen", from above, they were rather "enlightened" to the fact of their true universal identity in the Great Mother.

Our knowledge of God is therefore always mediated, never unitive or immediate, as one might merge with Cosmic Consciousness. And therefore, even though in a sense God is the ultimate Mother (Source of all things), as well as Father (Lord of all things), our direct knowledge of God as mother will always be second hand, as creator.

We must be, as Jesus said, born of the Spirit, adopted into the Family of God. We must come to know God as the ultimate Source of our being, in that sense, the ultimate Mother. But our knowledge of God as birth mother is spiritual and adoptive, and therefore also mediated, not unitive.

God might be called our mother, then, in these two carefully qualified senses.

First, the sense of God being our creator and source of Being, because the power of being is the archetypal mothering activity. And that experience of the activity of God will always, by its very nature, be immediate and warm and all of those things that we associate with mothering. But that is experience of God as creator. And it is precisely as creatures that we are put at a distance from God, not identified with God.

This is the "flesh" birth. It has usually escaped our notice that, although we are born of our earthly mothers, it is nevertheless God who is calling us into being, using our human mothers for His mothering activity. The danger of this sort of birthing process is that we will mistake the mothering activity of God for Mother. That is, we will mistake our mothers for God (which as infants we, of course, do).

Or Mother Nature for God. By adolescence we ought to know better. Neo-paganism and the New Age movement prove we often do not. The whole of the Great Mother spirituality is, in one sense, a failure of emotional and spiritual maturity, failure to move in the dependency relations beyond mother, through father, to God Himself.

We are put at a distance, not because God does not like us, but precisely because He does like us, so that we can turn around and face Him, be ourselves in front of Him, have a relationship with Him, be born (adopted) into His family. We are in that sense mothered by God so that we can be fathered by Him. We are ushered into existence so that we can be called into His family.

God is therefore mother in the sense that all good things have their Source in God. But that is not the sense in which the Great Mother is imagined by pagans to be the Mother of all things, of whose womb we are all supposed to be born. Beings born of the very substance of the Great Mother do not have to be born "anothen". They already are God, and have only to return to her loving embrace, swallowed by her into that everlasting peace which is indistinguishable from death. The Great Mother is not one with whom one has a "relationship", for a relationship requires separate identity. The goal with the Great Mother is to have no separate identity.

The second sense in which God might be called our Mother is the adoptive spiritual birth, of which Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, the transferring of our dependency relation from mother, mother church, and mother nature -- to God. As we grow spiritually, we come to experience ourselves standing on the hand of God for our ontological security, not on the provision of the circumstances around us. We are creatures of God who become also children of God.

And that is why calling God Mother in a manner failing to clearly distinguish the two senses of mothering is badly misleading, and why it is sometimes helpful to remain faithful to Biblical language and say that God is Father but that He has mothering activity. We face God as Father, but the substantial activity behind (or beneath) and ushering is the mothering activity.

It is safe to say that God is Father because separation is built into the very nature of fathering. It less safe to call God Mother because our experience of mothering implies identity, not distinction. It is only the clear differentiation of the two kinds of mothering that allows the use of the term.

But with that understanding, to incorporate the feminine side of God opens extraordinary possibilities for ministry and healing in the Body of Christ. It opens possibilities especially for the healing of gender and sexual brokenness which is epidemic in western culture.

IX. The Ministry & Mystery of Womanhood

The following things are then, I believe, true.

1. We can securely resolve the current chaotic situation with respect to gender and sex, including the devastating moral disintegration of western culture, only if we find in the nature of God objective standards for gender, and hence for sexuality. If we do not find our standards in God, they will remain in the limbo of "relativity".

2. There is in the Biblical doctrine of creation sufficient material to elaborate into a full theology and psychology of gender and sexuality.

3. This elaboration supplies answers to dilemmas of gender, sex, and human psychology that have plagued secular/pagan cultures from the beginning of their mythopoeic existence right up to and including technologically sophisticated secular humanism.

4. Our psychological and our spiritual maturing processes both require strong and clearly distinguishable gender roles, each of whose domain is respected by the other.

5. And (we return finally to our beginning) with respect to the specific issue of the ordination of women, it follows therefore that the need for strong and mutually honored gender roles would be poorly served by the ordination of women to a role which is essentially a leadership and authority role.

The inevitable blurring of the roles would cut at the heart of our capacity to experience salvation by grace -- by undermining the clear modeling of the gift of being apart from the gift and expectations of authority and doing. The gift of being, and the submission of power to authority, and the gracious and loving administration of authority, all needful for the personal growth and integrity of both men and women, are being severely compromised by feminist unisex imagery in the spiritual life of the Church and the world. The massive disintegration of family life in America and western civilization can be traced largely to the failure of our gender roles. The blame is not to be laid on women any more than men, but on a philosophy and way of life followed by any of us which betrays strong signs of rebellion against the sovereignty of God.

In this sense the "icon" argument carries weight, the priest stands in the place of Christ at the altar in a specifically masculine way. The feminine gift is the gift of ushering into life, of support, sustaining power, of hospitality, reflective of the mothering activity of God in original and in redeemed creation. Every person continually needs to be held, sustained, nurtured with the power of being in all of its wonder and richness -- so that we can stand before the face of God, our Sovereign.

6. The question is rightly raised in view of all this: But what of the ministry of women? What of all the talented and gifted women who are so ably serving in the life of the Church? If they are not to be ordained, what are they to do?

The answer does not come easily because we compulsively tend to see any possible answer in masculine terms: Get women doing something, preferably the same things men do! -- establish an office of women's ministry!

We see ministry as doing and have a very difficult time seeing the gift of being as ministry. We think that anybody can "be", you don't have to do anything to "be". Being is just as given.

Exactly the point. Our being is a given. But a world strayed from the Voice of God no longer experiences life given by the hand of God. And if not given by God, then not given at all. And if not given, then compulsively striven for -- salvation by works, no longer grace. The primal mystery and ministry of women is their wonderful potential to embody the gift of being in concert with the masculine gift of doing. The cosmic dance, if you will, where the power of being joyfully supports the equally joyful directing of authority for doing. 

The "cosmic dance" in the world of Hinduism is quite different -- the "dance of Shiva".  The Hindu goddess Shiva is pictured gyrating, often with two or three pairs of arms, waving about symbolizing the mixing of all things into a cosmic whole, where opposites combine, similar to the yin-yang of Chinese philosophy, the coincidence of opposites.

The ministry of women therefore cannot be fulfilled by setting up another office in charge of what women are to do, one more affirmative action program to "meet the needs" of women. That is the very antithesis of what is needed. The ministry of women will happen when women get in touch with the power of being which is their special gift from God. Their appropriate activity and doing will flow from that security.

"Love," we say, "is the most powerful force in the universe." That is mostly sentimentality. Even Christians, who ought to know, hardly understand the extraordinary power of loving submission enacted freely by a person who is secure in his or her own being. Being comfortable with one's own being is the most profound basis for enabling a mother to endow her children with ontological security. It is a gift which carries beyond family into society, radiating health and wholeness in a way that is unique to women. The power of being is the necessary foundation of the way of the cross for both men and women.

There is little men can do about the matter, other than learning themselves how to be the appropriate "other half" -- Godly men. Ultimately it is something for which women will have to go directly to God.

Often the male misunderstanding of the power of women drives men to distraction, to lust, to domineering, to controlling women. But a woman free and secure in her being will not respond with her own feminine manipulation, control, and counter-defensiveness. Like Jesus, she cannot be manipulated into being anything other than herself. In the deepest sense she cannot be "used".

The power of being is that deep pool of water which Jesus said would well up to eternal life within us -- first described to the woman at the well. Manifesting that eternal well of life, the power of being, is the ministry and the mystery of womanhood.



[Note: footnotes and illustrations in the printed version do not appear on the website version.  For the printed version, see Shopping Mall.] 

Further items by Dr. Fox which support the argument given above are available through the Shopping Mall:

YAHWEH or THE GREAT MOTHER? (2 video set, approx 4 hours in 6 segments, with study guide)

Background on Biblical vs pagan worldview, illustrating how one's view of human sexuality derives from one's worldview.

1st cassette - Biblical View: "The Personhood of God", "The Tri-Personhood of God", and "When Everything Else Fails...."

2nd cassette - Pagan View: "The Cosmic Organism", "Materialism", and "Spiritualism".

MAN & WOMAN IN THE IMAGE OF GOD (Video, 1 hr 45 min in 2 segments.)

Biblical view of sex and gender relations, building on YAHWEH OR THE GREAT MOTHER? and Genesis 1:26 ff.

HUMAN SEXUALITY - THE SECULAR DEBACLE -- (Video, 1 hr 50 min in 2 segments.)

Philosophy and method of secular sexuality as commonly taught in public schools.


Basic understanding of how we are made in the image of God - male and female, psycho-gender development, sex and gender roles..

Emmaus Ministries

(For further discussion, see the Women's Ordination Library)

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