I disagree with images of God that are frequently claimed by Christians according to their understanding of the Bible. An objection I get in my writings is that I am attempting to make God in my own image. It is defended God can be a sexist, racist, or homophobe if God wants to be. To even claim God can be a sexist implies a universal view toward mistreating women. Does God?
You can’t make God in the Bible’s image.
Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree that God condemns homosexuality or that God forbids women from being preachers or priests. See here. See here. Do you really think God would deny women being preachers or priests or CEO of a business though more qualified than all male candidates? We can’t be certain what the image of God is according to the Bible because literature is subject to interpretation. “Biblical truths” are debatable.
You can’t make God in a “male” image.
We don’t think of God having more of the male than female anatomy. Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God is described as a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), or “a great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors” (Ezek. 17:3). Clearly, God is neither male, female, nor an eagle in terms of gender or form. The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female; the Jews did not speculate about the gender of God. The reason for more male references is the patriarchal cultures writers lived in.
Whose image do we make God in?
An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but the Bible encourages imitating or being perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). It is natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection are surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!
God can’t be a sexist according to human understandings!
Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. Most would agree that is racist or bigotry. An argument could be made that to favor men over women for particular roles is sexist or bigotry. I am convinced most Christians or Muslims would not deny women equality or roles they are gifted for unless they believed they should in the name of God according to their understanding or interpretation of some Book.
What are God’s rights?
God would only claim perfect, human rights. Such claims are always in the best interests of others we claim to love – other-centered than self-centered. God loves us how we know we ought to love others. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we aren’t clueless. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly or whether our interpretation of what they write is correct. Beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection.
Why your image of God matters!
Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If we believe God is really warlike, we may justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. You may be right!
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