In His Image

Over the years, there have been times when I’ve found God initiating further discovery on how He sees women (theological, cultural and practical issues etc). Once again I’m re-visiting the ‘arena’ as I’ve been delving through the Scriptures again, and seeing beautiful things with new eyes. Sometimes God has to over-emphasise things for me to ‘get it’. So I warn you that I might be in that frame of mind.

You see, I’m convinced that my ‘neighbourhood’ where I live and work, in all of it’s fractured relationships, need to see both men and women reach their full potential. I’m convinced that we need to keep pursuing and extending our views of living in God’s fullest expression of being human.

There’s such a gratefulness to the many other voices have also spoken into that journey. I have recently been quite encouraged by the perspective that comes through voices like the Sophia network. I like this forum because it is bringing a healthy addition to the dialogue.

This article brings some perspectives highlighting how much interpretation of ‘life’ still seems primarily filtered through male eyes.  This is not to undermine the rich input that we receive regularly from men who are serving God this way. I just want us to keep seeking balance. (For example, I have taught in schools where there were so many females on staff that we had to seek  out healthy balance in opportunities for males.) I’ve been aware of some of the ‘messages’ that are often unconsciously carried when there’s not that balance.

Here’s another current example from one of our classroom discussions for Essentials Blue, we are looking at what it means to be fully human, to glorify God by being fully alive. One girl’s discussion post spoke of us being made in the image of God. She was challenged by the belief that God made females in ‘His’ image. We always refer to Him in the language of the male, and she was acknowledging it makes her feel at times, that God is a bit removed from where she is at as a female. She was verbalising much of what this article expands as it addresses questions about the message females receive about their value and affirmation.

I am fortunate to be part of a staff team, and a movement of churches who honour women and offers freedom for all to express their gifts.  Yet, there are also times when I long for more balance in the ‘voices’.  It still seems, as much as we try, that a great deal of the mainstream of interpretation is coming through male perspective.

For example, next week we have a pastors conference for the Aussie Vineyard movement. I wonder if there’ll be signs of the strong, healthy partnership that God created between men and women revealed fully – reflected in our churches, our families, our businesses, our schools, and in every area of life. I hope so.

Practially what might that look like?

What do you think about this list below?

So what does that partnership look like in practice? It will be different for each person, but here are some suggestions for you to think about:

  • challenging stereotypes, sexist attitudes, degrading humour and exclusive language that damage women and/or men when you encounter it in your church, your work and your relationships.
  • if women are under-represented then proactively looking for gifted women when you need someone to speak, train, lead, write about, write for you, use as an illustration, preach about and so on, instead of immediately opting for the more obvious male candidates. At the same time, working to avoid any kind of tokenism or setting people up to fail.
  • creating opportunities for women to learn, to be stretched, to do new things so that they grow in skills and confidence and the body of Christ is enriched – even if that means taking some risks.
  • taking responsibility for your own integrity and accountability so that working relationships with the opposite sex are an opportunity for growth and not a threat to be avoided.
  • recognising the wonderful and creative diversity that exists within both sexes, allowing people to be who God calls them to be and not expecting them to fit into neatly defined boxes.
  • recognising the impact that the organisation of private life has on the public sphere, and, where appropriate, sharing domestic duties with the people that you live with.
  • working towards an appropriate mix of men and women actively involved in any project that you participate in, or in any network that you belong to.
  • consider using an inclusive language version of the Bible for your own study and in public contexts, and making sure worship songs and liturgy don’t exclude.
  • wrestling with theology and understanding of biblical texts that relate to gender to discover what they say to us as men and women today.
  • helping young men and young women to relate healthily to each other, realising that they are brothers and sisters in Christ rather than aliens from another planet.

HT

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Svott
    May 27, 2009 @ 15:16:11

    Christina is going and Ill be around with the kids…. So you going Di?

  2. di
    May 27, 2009 @ 15:41:15

    Yep I’m going.
    YVV pastors are not staying in but heading in on the train each day!
    It’ll be good to see you both.

  3. Christina
    May 27, 2009 @ 22:01:59

    I see “Svott” (!!!) has beaten me to comment… Iphone typing! It will be good to see you too. Good post Di – thanks for raising these issues… I think it is an area that seems to be resolved until you push hard enough and I find that attitudes tend to default to less equal positions. Interesting you mention humour….

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