Does Christianity Have a Feminine Feel?

There’s been a lot of buzz on the Web lately that’s captured in the phrase: “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.”

I am deliberately not mentioning who made this statement as it doesn’t matter. In fact, I think discussions are far better off when we clear away the clutter of human personality and focus on the ideas themselves.

Consequently, we shall not wax on (or wax off) about this minister vs. that minister and who said what. Instead, we will stick to the topic at hand. (The Blog Manager agrees, and she moderates comments. Take that as a hint.) :-)

I don’t doubt that there is “masculinity” (or whatever you wish to call it) in the Christian faith.

God is our Father. Jesus was and is a man . . . “the Man in the glory” as the hymn goes. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were males. And there’s the biblical line of “sonship.”

Okay, fine. I get it.

But . . . God’s ultimate passion is for a girl.

His relentless desire is for a woman.

Consequently, Christianity has a feminine feel to it as well.

As I explained in From Eternity to Here, there is a particular woman who takes center stage in the Bible. She appears in the opening pages of Holy Scripture, she appears all throughout the middle, and she reappears at the very end.

Jesus Christ, your Lord, gave His life for this woman and forsook everything to have her. A line from a song I wrote years ago says, “And for her hand He was crucified, and in His bosom she’ll reside.”

This woman is the very fiancée of the Son of God, and He’s waiting to marry her. She is His bride now, but at the end of the ages, she shall be “the wife of the Lamb” as John put it.

Interestingly, the closing words of Scripture are uttered by her. So she (along with the Spirit) have the last word.

In short, God is full of fire for a woman. She is born in heaven, but she has her feet on earth. And our Lord has unleashed the fury of His love upon her. Even today, He seeks to blind us with His passion for this girl.

Some years ago I delivered a message in Ireland expounding these thoughts entitled, Who is this Woman? God’s Ultimate Passion

You can click the above link to listen to it. It’s not a long message.

You may also find the four related articles of interest as well. Each one shows how central women were to the New Testament story and in the heart of God.

God’s View of a Woman – a blog post that needs no further explanation beyond the title.

A Farewell to Self-Righteousness – a post written in honor of our sisters in Christ.

Reimagining a Woman’s Role in the Church – an essay dealing with the two “limiting passages” that appear to restrict women functioning in the church. It also contains a full survey of women in ministry throughout the New Testament.

Diary of a Desperate Samaritan Woman – the Samaritan woman tells her story the evening after she met the Savior at Jacob’s well.

All told, let me close with one overarching statement. I think if we frame Christianity in feminine vs. masculine language, we lose our way. The truth is, Christianity has a JESUS feel to it. It also has a JESUS aroma to it. And Christ and His Bride are united.

Let that marinate a bit . . .

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Comments

  1. Tamarria says

    I couldn’t agree more. Why are we complicating the truth and power of GOD’S word with these insignificant opinions? This opens the door for division. Less focus on what we think, more focus on JESUS.

  2. says

    And wisdom (Sophia) is described as “she” in the Bible. I’ve never heard a sermon adequately deal with that. In fact I’ve hear precious few sermons on it at all.

  3. Carrie says

    What I appreciate so much about Frank’s work is how it has freed me to look at reality from Jesus’s point of view instead of the world’s point of view. The Bible can be so confusing because we so often see the trees rather than the forest. The verse instead of the the book…..instead of Christ! Before I stumbled upon Frank’s work, I was searching for my role in Christian fundamentalism….looking for a way to submit…how much? How little? How do I act, how do I dress? And now I am beginning to see myself through Jesus’s eyes and it is wholly different. My identity is lost and found in a love for Him!

  4. Heather says

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Amen!
    Galatians 3:28

  5. says

    WOW! The image of the Bride as a central character in the narrative of the Creation/Redemption story gives me goosebumps — waves and waves of them. Nice!

    I can’t remember whose blog it was on, but someone pointed out that no man had anything to do with the birth of Jesus. Those who share my gender need to be continually to be humbled by that.

  6. says

    I’ve been thinking about labels we assign ourselves recently, such as Christian, Baptist, Methodist, etc. And I’ve come the conclusion that ‘Disciple’ (of Jesus Christ) seems to be the primary method of reference use by God in the scriptures to discribe (or label) His followers.

    That being said, I whole heartedly agree on the approach and reasoning you’ve taken: let God define it as He sees fit. When man creates his label (such as Christian) he’s always quick to add his own interpretation and nuances (e.g., traditions and doctrines). It also provides a layer of anominity in that you’re held to your own standard of what your label means.

    Not true when we go to the Bible and apply ‘Bride,’ ‘Disciple,’ etc. Then it becomes a bit scary because we are no long in control of the definitions. There are plenty of people who would consider themselves a good Christian, but far fewer a good disciple or a chaste bride of Christ.

  7. BobbyJo Newell says

    I just have to say, my favorite podcast EVER is the one you mention called ‘Who is this Woman? God’s Ultimate Passion” I tell others of it often and repost in facebook often, made me cry first couple times I heard it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. Angela says

    The enemy loves to keep us divided and fighting amongst ourselves. Lets not play his game. Thanks for pointing us to the better Way. Michael is so right about Christ busting through our spectrums.

  9. says

    Thanks for this, Frank! And for the rest…

    To me, Jesus’ ability to deal so purely with the spirit of man holds the key – one of the common threads of his dealings with people during his 1000 days, is how he had almost no regard for gender, or any other superficial differences between people.

    He just cuts through all the clutter of form, and zaps the essence, the spirit of those he encounters…

    Wow.

    And I love that, because it means that no gender-based stereotypical nonsense could influence Jesus…

    And that’s something to be thankful for, I believe…

    Regards.

    Werner

  10. Brother John says

    Couldn’t help but add my $.02 here. The Holy Spirit is actually the feminine side of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is our (those that are IN Christ) Mother . So, the two Women in Scripture are the Bride of Christ — the church or body, and The Holy Spirit. The fact that we have a spiritual Mother is little known today but part of The Mystery. Just like we have a biological, earthly father and mother, so too Heavenly — the Father and the Holy Spirit. Nothing New Age about this folks.

  11. says

    Thanks for the post. The union of Christ & the church you wrote of is the image God: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). It was to His image that God spoke the command, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). His plan has always been for the union of Christ & the church to fill & subdue all things!

  12. Angela Bisignano says

    Enjoyed your post Frank! Your last line summed it up well, “God created Adam after his masculine side, strength, courage and furious love. And he created Eve after his feminine side, delicateness, beauty and tender love.” I absolutely agree.

  13. Michael says

    Male/Female nature of God – this seems to be a “spectrum” issue with Christians. Similar to legalism and libertinism, Calvinism and Arminianism. The weight starts tipping on one end of the spectrum and so you find Christians reacting in order to push the weight back toward the other end of the spectrum.

    Frank, I have always appreciated how you show that Christ busts the “spectrums” wide open. He doesn’t exist on them – as if we must constanlty be seeking the perfect balance between the 2 extremes on a spectrum – and that’s where we’ll find Christ. No, you and many other brothers and sisters have helped me understand that we do not need to somehow reach our Lord through proper theological understanding, but that He is first and He is ALL and His life brings the understanding that we crave.

    I find such peace in knowing that we don’t have to live on the sliding spectrums of theology anymore. We can rest in Christ, let go of control, and watch as the road ahead of us is illuminated – not by knowledge, but by the Light.

  14. William Loewen says

    One thing often gets forgotten in this conversation. We can describe our lives as a regular cycle of joy, faithfulness, suffering and pain. As Christians, we know that we ourselves cannot liberate ourselves from this cycle, and when we are liberated from that cycle, there is pain at first, but ultimately extreme joy.

    It seems to me that women are physiologically more capable of understanding that central metaphor of the Christian life.

  15. says

    Gal 3:28 says that in Christ there cannot be male and female. All the females in Christ are also brothers of Christ and all the males in Christ are also part of the wife of the Lamb. I agree. If we focus on creating a masculine or feminine Christianity, we are getting off the mark. Of course, in the church and in the Bible God has prescribed certain roles and positions based on gender. But I don’t think this should create a masculine Christianity.

  16. Kristine McGuire says

    Personally, when I read the Bible (especially the New Testament) I see how God works through and values women. Jesus revolutionized the treatment of women. Christianity has a Jesus feel. Well said.

  17. says

    Frank, I receive your email updates and awoke to read your post this morning. I clicked through to read your “Reimagining a Woman’s Role in the Church” and read the entire essay before I exited my covers this morning. It is the single best piece I’ve ever read on a women’s role in the church, from both a theological and experiential perspective. Thanks for sharing that in its entirety–I will be pointing many people to it over my life, I’m sure.

    May our love for Him ever increase. May our love for His bride ever increase.

  18. Mike Clemens says

    As believers transition to followers they should at some point realize that secular gender dynamics fade as we approach spiritual maturity. As part of our inescapably human condition, our male/female-ness matters on some level while on earth, but won’t be relevant in eternity. God dumbsdown his words to us so that we might better understand with our limited capacities how to grapple with the infinite. We ought not think we’ve somehow got God figured out or condensed on any level because that tends to divert from orthopraxis, our life-long quest to become like Jesus by embodying his teachings which transcend gender.

  19. Pat says

    Beautiful Post Frank! I especially liked…Christianity has a Jesus feel to it. Also, would you consider sharing all of the song you wrote?

  20. Jeff Rhodes says

    As usual, Frank, a very gracious, biblical perspective of a seriously flawed and controversial subject. Thanks for the insight and, as always, thanks for the gentle spirit of delivery. An example indeed!

  21. says

    “The truth is, Christianity has a JESUS feel to it… And Christ and His Bride are united.”

    I have been meditating on Paul’s words in Ephesians 5: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

    Your posts and talks about Christ and His Bride are beginning to crack open a teeny corner of this mystery for me. Thank you.

    And thank you for this post.

  22. Nancy says

    This is exactly why I stopped attending church. I got tired of (abusive) male domination and sorry attitude toward women in ministry. I have forgiven though and am working my way through the damage it has caused not only to myself but many others.

  23. Guy Sperlazzo says

    I completely agree with you, the “eternity” topic has always been a great interest of mine. I do, however, want to point out the contrast of the feminine Bride as a Whole, and the feminine Christian male that seems to be fairly common in America today.

    When I look at the men I want to mimic in one way or another, Adam, Samson, David, Paul, Jesus, various men alive today, I don’t see frail voices, soft flowing movements, hip shakes a bit too much when they walk. Nor do I see muscles, veins, drill sargent on steroids. I see strong, courageous, loving men that know how to be gentle when they need to be. I can’t say the same about a large portion of today’s western culture.

    God created Adam after his masculine side, strength, courage and furious love. And he created Eve after his feminine side, delicateness, beauty and tender love.

    • says

      Not sure what you mean by the “eternity” topic. The 4 posts and the audio message aren’t about the far away, sweet bye-and-bye. They are all about “now” not “tomorrow.”

      • Guy Sperlazzo says

        Sorry, what I meant to say was that I always have been interested in God’s eternal purpose, the bride, the house, the body, and the family.

    • says

      Thank you for your thoughtful insights in this post & the others, Frank. All of us – male & female – need to be conformed to God’s image according to that in Christ. (I may comment, again, after I listen to your Samaritan woman recording. :) )

      Guy, if today’s Eve isn’t delicate and beautiful, where does that leave those women? Godly women in Scripture – e.g., Proverbs 31 – are described in various ways, among them productive, economically astute, competent, wise, prophetic, leaders, strong (Prov. 31:17), gentle, intelligent, courageous, etc. Many of us have firm, not frail, voices, speak forthrightly, and also don’t shake our hips when we walk. Your point is hard to fathom, and your “sides” still sound more stereotypically cultural than biblical.

      The most “offensive” thing I’ve done, in the eyes of certain men & women, was to listen more to Scripture & the Holy Spirit’s voice (in accountable, faithful community), and less to theirs about who I am, how I should love, act, talk, serve, and follow Christ.

      • Guy Sperlazzo says

        Ann, I completely agree with you. What I was talking about was effeminate MEN shaking their hips, not woman. And I hadn’t said there aren’t delicate and beautiful woman in today’s western culture, if anyone said THAT I would have them meet my amazing and beautiful wife to be! :D

        I was specifically addressing some men, Christian and not, that seem to have ventured off of the path of my biblical heroes.

        Two great books that changed my life forever, regarding this topic, is Wild at Heart and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. Honestly, changed my life.

  24. Shannon says

    As a single 31 year old woman, I loved this post. I know who made that statement and I followed all the blogs about it. There were so many great responses but this is one of my favorites. I’m going to share it because I want everyone else who has been involved in the conversation to read it. The message was really powerful. Thank you.

  25. Robyn says

    Sin is what pits woman vs. man…not God. Frank, I appreciate the balance you express. Our God, our Creator, thoughtfully and perfectly created everything, including relationships. It is sin that erodes the creation. Christianity has a perfect balance of femininity and masculinity and we realize that when we live and walk in His Truth. My heart hurts for those, both within and without the body, who can’t let go of the divisions that sin bore, between genders, races, social classes, etc. and try to pull Christ into their battles.

  26. says

    I love this post! Especially this: “The truth is, Christianity has a JESUS feel to it… And Christ and His Bride are united.” It is a great addition to the related articles.

    I like to say we express Christ together, both male and female, as we were both made in His image.

    Being married, I often think of this expression of Him in marriage. Together we can represent His desire for and nurturing of His bride, as well as her love and longing for Him.

    But we are all with someone who isn’t perfect, of course; and we are to encourage and help one another. One isn’t more of a representative of Christ and the other just a tag-along.

    Ideally, both husband and wife should be living by the life of the Holy Spirit within.

    Naturally, men lead, but when it’s done by God’s Spirit it brings a certain equality and beauty of Jesus. Maybe a husband is a reflection of Jesus in a priestly, guiding, protective way; and a wife is a picture of Jesus in gentle, comforting, gracious way.

    We can help each other understand God better when we see Jesus in each other. “We are complete in Him.”

    • Guy Sperlazzo says

      Esther, I enjoyed reading this, didn’t read it until just now, but it’s very similar to the comment I left below (the second half of it anyway).

  27. says

    I like what you say about the “Jesus feel” and the unification of Christ and his bride. Besides, in eternity male and female will be united in one new creature that will be “like the angels.” And even Adam was some sort of a combination before the “split” (My wife and I had a very interesting debate about that). So I do think the feminine vs. masculine language is not helpful, especially with the stereotypes of “masculinity” that are doing the rounds.

  28. Sean Gleason says

    Frank,
    Thank you for sharing. Your writings challenge and inspire and I appreciate that they always point us to Christ.

  29. Erik Richey says

    I think that the Almighty intends both. I guess it depends on the context of what we teach and dialogue with others about. I think that if our view is always centered on masculinity rather than femininity also (vice versa) we could end up with a lop-sided view. This imbalance may be one of the reasons the feminist movement has been happening. What do you think?

  30. says

    Love, love, love the link to the chapter that was taken out of your book!

    One time I had an email discussion with a pastor about this topic and he told me that one of the reasons women couldn’t be in church leadership was because God didn’t set it up that way.

    I told him if we went by what God *didn’t* do, he’d be out of a job because God didn’t initially set up the church with non-Jewish people.

    (The actual discussion we had was much longer; this was just one small part of it).

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