Q & R: Does God Not Speak to Women?

Heres’ the Q, from a reader in Kenya:

I recently heard the above quote on one of your youtube talks. I cannot begin to explain how it can at a timely point and has continued to minister to my heart. I’m a part of a small community in kenya that is trying to become new kind of christians. We have already studied together your book a new kind.

Recently our leader has discovered a hebrew movement that greatly impacted his walk towards becoming a faithful disciple of Christ. But at the same time he has been telling us according to the hebrews God never spoke to the woman. This is despite the fact that we are a group of five devoted members four being female. The only male is the leader. It broke my heart to hear this from him and i have been struggling with it ever since.

Prior to this I have had a constant struggle with the patriarchal structure of most of our society and how it perpetuates the demeaning of women and their role in society at large. And maybe I’m already infected by feminist ideas but could God be the author of such ideas or is this man’s way of ensuring he remains in charge? Could this be a hindrance to healthy and meaningful relationship between male and female?

You may never get to read this and respond but you are safe for me to ask this kind of questions
Is it true that God does not speak to women?
Could we be taking the gospel of the man as the head way too wrongly
Thanks for opening my mind to question .

Here’s the R:
Dear sister, thanks for writing. I have visited Kenya several times, and each time, I met wonderful people like you asking deep and important questions. I love your beautiful country and your amazing people, and I thank you for this deeply significant question.

First, let me say that if someone uses the Bible to tell you that God never speaks to women, he (it will probably be a man saying this!) is simply mistaken. For example, God certainly used women prophets in the Hebrew Bible, as a seminary professor explains in this article. Not only that, but in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament, we are clearly told that God pours out the Holy Spirit on all people (Joel 2, Acts 2).

Second, you are right that patriarchy is deeply embedded in the cultures of the Bible. But patriarchy was no less embedded in the cultures of all the other nations of the ancient world. So the question is this: just because patriarchy was deeply embedded in the cultures of Bible times, does that make it right? Many Christians assume the answer is yes, but I see it differently.

The cultures of the Bible contain many things that we today have left behind – slavery, monarchy, polygamy, etc. Just because it is in the Bible does not mean it is mandated for everyone everywhere for all time. That is why Jesus himself said (in the Sermon on the Mount), “You have heard it said … BUT I say to you …”

In fact, I believe that the Bible actually subverts patriarchy. For example, when Jesus speaks of the love of God, he compares God to a mother as well as a father (Luke 13, 15). And when he says nobody should call another person “father” (Matthew 23), I believe he is trying to undermine patriarchy, just as he undermines the authoritarianism of political rule in his culture (or “lordship” – see Matthew 20:25).

If you’re looking for a helpful book on this subject, I highly recommend Malestrom by Carolyn Custis James.

By the way, if anyone ever criticizes you by calling you a “feminist,” I would respond by saying, “I am happy to be considered a feminist in the tradition of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She did not believe that God upheld the oppressive order of society, but rather she believed that God would overturn it.” Then you can show them Luke 1:46 ff.

To be “a new kind of Christian” is to believe, with Paul (Galatians 3), that in Christ there is no male or female. We are all one and all equal in Christ – whatever our gender, race, culture, religious heritage, class, etc. Thanks again for your important question.