Many Kabbalists conceive of God as embodying both male and female energies, which were divided during creation as part of the process of emanation. They speak of the shekhinah, which in traditional Judaism means the divine presence on earth, as the feminine aspect or mystical bride of God.
The Hebrew word used to denominate God in Genesis is Elohim. This word is a plural formed from the feminine singular ALH (Eloh) by adding IM to it.
The ancient desert wanderers who encountered God on their 40-year outdoor camping trip experience God not only as a Him, but also as a her. The Jews nicknamed the glory of God ‘Shekinah’, it connoted the presence of God. Shekinah in the Hebrew tense is female. The personification of God’s fame (hebrew idea of glory modernized means ‘fame’) is female rather than male. I think this is an important distinction that can be too easily glossed over. God isn’t simply male or female. God embodies both. God created both.
It seems that there is still a silent expectation in many churches that males are to be leaders. males are to lead the way. males are the ‘head of the household’. the latter model tends to be the predominant archetype for a good christian husband. the guy who is the ‘bread-winner’, who is in charge and has it all together. this kind of approach doesn’t take into account the holistic nature of god. it only endorses an imbalanced worldview on god. and so then it puts us in a position where we support a one-sided paradigm, which hurts men and women. I would even go so far as to say if we willingly choose to see the male role as a dominant one that we denigrate the full character of God. That if we choose to mistreat, abuse or control women in the name of misunderstood decontextualized verses, that we have become followers of a decontextualized collection of cultural documents that have somehow landed in the unintentionally uneducated hands of people who are trying to work out their theories of control on others.
I know that sounds harsh, and I realize I may be coming from a place where I have seen men use scripture to beat women and cheapen their value as a integrated part of humanity, but this doesn’t devalue the reality that all women have something to add to society, to culture, to our understanding of scripture, ethics, psychology and etc. What this means for men, is that we have a responsibility to not only intentionally step down and allow equal space and footing for women to develop themselves but to also seek out opportunities to rebuild the DNA of our society and churches towards a gender equilibrium that would rival and redeem the years lost. Without women we could not understand the feminine heart of God. We would not be able to understand the heart. The emotion. The passionate mother heart of God. We would have an incredibl anemic view of God which would give us a lopsided view of divinity.
Paul at one point in his letter says something to this effect: “…there is neither Jew nor Greek…male nor female….” — Paul was being counter cultural to the script of his own day. He was promoting a genderless society. one that saw humanity as one, not segregated by gender. not him or her, but people who demonstrated the vast creativity of God in their gender. Maybe this is what we need, is to be counter-cultural to our own society, to our churches, and to our maladjusted misinterpretations of scripture. God is beyond them as well as beyond our genders. We need something better.
We should intentionally step aside and allow and even advocate for women to be treated as equals, not as a helper. Not as one who needs permission from a male figure to do any such thing. In fact, as men, we simply treat women as equals. In a society that is still quite male-centered, if we choose equality over habitualized culture, we might just turn the tide. It is possible. We can do it, but we have to start now.
Also check out my wife’s blog (she is a Gender Rights Advocate) who has some great thoughts on the subject: