In the beginning, Genesis Chapter 1, God created the heavens and the earth. This is not the Gnostic Demiurge, this is God the Father Almighty. Yes, I said “Father,” please do not give up yet, because the very next description of God is of the “Spirit of God” which “brooded over the face of the deep.” The third description is of God speaking, “Let there be light.”
The Gospel of John, in its first verses, recalls “and God said,” to speak of the “word” of God, in Greek the “logos,” which was with God and in fact was God. This word of God became flesh and dwelt among human beings - this word of God is Jesus Christ.
Remember the Spirit of God? Does the Bible make other references to this description of God as Spirit?
Yes indeed. The Spirit of God is all over the Bible: In the Hebrew Old Testament this is the ruah, and in the New Testament it is the pneuma. Literally, these are the words for “wind” or “breath.” The Spirit of God is shown to be falling upon the Judges, inspiring the prophets, and then descending on Jesus in the shape or “likeness” of a dove, and on the apostles in “tongues” of fire.
Wind, fire, doves. There remains one more paradigm for understanding the Spirit of God. That paradigm is Wisdom. In the Greek New Testament, the Wisdom of God is called the Sophia of God. This feminine name might be an accident of form: English nouns are gender-neutral, but in many other languages nouns decline according to their gender.
I doubt that this is such an accident, though, because in the Old Testament, Wisdom becomes personified. An interesting character is described in the Book of Proverbs, a person who is trying to invite the city to a banquet. This person is named Wisdom, and she is a woman.
There is no doubt that Proverbs personifies Wisdom as female. Pick up any English translation of the Bible and begin reading Chapter 8. There is also no doubt that Proverbs identifies Wisdom with the One God who created all things. Wisdom describes herself as holding the kind of power only absolute deity can command, as in verse 15: “By me kings reign, and rulers make laws that are just.”
In case that is mistaken as a merely metaphorical reference (of course rulers who use wisdom make just laws) she goes on to describe her origins in verses 22 to 31. She is the “first out of God.” This parable of birth is theologically inexact, but is intended to show that She was with God before anything was created. Verse 27 marks exactly where She was:
“I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep.” Look again at Genesis chapter 1 verse 2: “Now the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God hovered on the face of the deep.”
Christian Trinitarian theology is difficult to explain without running into problems. However, we believe that the Creation texts in Genesis 1, Proverbs 8, and John 1, describe God in a Trinitarian fashion.
By God “the Father’s” will all of Creation came into being. It came into being by the Word of God (the “Son”) and by the Wisdom and Power of God (The Holy Spirit, the Wisdom Woman of Proverbs).
Neither the Will, the Word, nor the Wisdom, of God, can be separated out from God. God is one, of indivisible substance. God is also much bigger than our comprehension, so God is personified through forms both male and female. The Wisdom Woman is God. Jesus Christ is God. That the will of God proceeds from “the Father” is not a description of God’s sexual orientation, it is rather a description of the dynamics of the relationship.
Throughout the entire human race we attach different relational dynamics to the words “Mother” and “Father.” God tells us that the relational dynamic by which we approach God is best understood, by us who can scarcely comprehend God at all, as a Father dynamic.
That the feminine is as equally the complete image of God as is the masculine, is shown to us in Genesis Chapter 1 verse 27, where “male and female” are together created in the image of God.
The differences between masculine and feminine are illustrated in Genesis Chapter 2, when the story is told differently, and the woman is created later after the male struggles alone to find companionship. This reflects two truths that liberated women can celebrate: First, that the male was indeed incomplete - this is the first time God pronounces a work of creation as not good: “it is not good for the male to be alone.” Second, humanity is created to be in relationship with God, but the male was not able to find completeness in that relationship by himself. Female is necessary to complete the understanding of God and communion and fellowship.
A rabbi wrote of this story about the woman being formed from the man’s rib, that a man feels complete when the woman is at his side, and the woman feels complete when she is embraced under his arm.
From the first two chapters of Genesis the plan of our One God is shown to be perfect and beautiful. Women, generally smaller, slower, and less muscular, are the sacred temples for new life. Men, generally bigger, faster, and stronger, are under the spell of the mystery of life-giving female sexuality. The female brain is affected by estrogen, and the male brain by testosterone, but together both male and female are rational thinkers who sensibly and cooperatively adapt to changing circumstances. Decisions are joint and tasks are separated according to each one taking an equal share of authority and an equal share of the work in the building of the family.
Sin enters the picture. Much is made by chauvinists who are lazy readers, and by feminists who want to scrap the Bible, about the woman “sinning” first. This misses the point. A careful reading demonstrates that the woman was self-reflective about the commands of God. The man took what was forbidden and ate, impulsively and without reflection. Whose sin is greater, the one who sins believing in some kind of justification, or the one who sins impulsively, with no other goals? Perhaps both sins are equally great, but it seems clear that the man is shown to be the greater lummox of the two.
It is after sin that God has to tell the pair what the consequences will be. These consequences are not punishments by God, nor do they reflect God’s will. That men will use their physical strength to bully women is not God’s plan, it is not God’s will, it is the result of sin entering the heart of the male. That women will put up with it out of personal insecurity is not God’s plan nor God’s will, it is the result of sin entering the heart of the female.
Jesus Christ, is called, in First Corinthians Chapter 1 "the wisdom and power of God" for two reasons: first, that the work of God becoming flesh happened according to God's wisdom and power, and second, because the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Christ purchased our redemption on the cross and completed our victory over sin when that same Wisdom and Power of God raised him from the dead.
In that redemption, in that restoration to fellowship and communion as God intended, the hierarchical impositions of sinful bullies completely vanishes. It is God's will, as stated in Galatians 3:28, that "in Christ there is no Jew nor Greek..." because ethnic bigotries are broken - "...slave nor free..." because class and economic hierarchies are levelled - "male nor female," because gender inequalities vanish in our restored communion with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit.