My name is Solomon Keal. I am a minister for the General Church of the New Jerusalem, which is a Swedenborgian Christian denomination. These are some of my thoughts about the Lord, the symbolic meanings in the Bible, life after death, faith, charity, usefulness, loving the Lord and one's neighbor, the 2nd Coming, Swedenborg's Writings, and other theological stuff.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Why was Jesus a man not a woman?


Why did the Lord, in His first advent, come as a man and not as a woman? First I would like to address why I believe this is an important question to raise. In the General Church of the New Jerusalem we believe that the truths of the Lord's second coming as revealed by Swedenborg help us to grow closer to the Lord in His Divine humanity. We believe that the God of heaven and earth took on the merely natural form of Jesus Christ in the world. We also believe that, as it says in Genesis 1:27, both men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, and so God is the source of both masculinity and femininity. But because the language of the Old and New Testaments refers to God almost exclusively in a masculine way, it can be hard for women to feel close to the Lord, especially given that Jesus Christ was in fact male. For example, when a woman is giving birth, how easy is it for her to know that the Lord knows exactly what she is going through, if she is picturing Him in the masculine form of Jesus Christ? I personally know women who struggle with this issue. I hope that in the course of this study I can shed some light on this subject, so that women might be able to feel closer to the Lord, and so that all of us might understand our relationship with the Lord more clearly.

(The quotations in this paper are taken from the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg).

Purpose of the Advent
In asking why the Lord came as a man and not a woman, we must first examine why the Lord came at all. What was the purpose of the first advent? The Lord came into this world to save the human race from extinction. Because the Lord gave us freedom, and a sense that life is our own, we can get ourselves into trouble. As long as this trouble is balanced by goodness in the world, our freedom is maintained. But if the balance gets off, an intervention is required, because evil actually prevents good people from getting to heaven. So the Lord came to save us from our own eternal damnation. And He did this by pushing back and subjugating the hells, restructuring the heavens, and establishing a New Church (see True Christianity 84). He also saved us by glorifying His Human, which meant that He could then continually keep the hells at bay (see New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 293), and it also meant that He could then truly be conjoined with us (see Secrets of Heaven 2554). One might be tempted to think - in a stereotypical sort of way - that it was because the Lord came to fight that He must have come as a man. But I think there’s a lot more to it than that.
So how did the Lord accomplish this task? By means of Divine truth, and by means of His Divine Human. An intervention was required, but the Lord could not come to us in His full essence, or His sheer Divinity would have annihilated us. So He came as a part of Him; as Divine truth. He came as the part of Himself that can approach us, and can be approached by us. And He came as the part of Himself that had the power to fight back the hells without destroying them. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ was the bodily visible form of Divine truth, which in turn is the form of the Lord’s Divine love.
In my experience this is very often where we reach the end of the discussion: The Lord came as Divine truth, and men are forms of truth, while women are forms of love (see Married Love 90, 160, 187, 223; Secrets of Heaven 8337), so therefore the Lord had to have come in the form of a masculine man. But I think there is a lot more to it than that. For one thing: sometimes in the Word women represent truth. And in fact sometimes women represent Divine truth, as was the case with Sarah, Abraham’s wife (see Secrets of Heaven 2063). So it seems it was not simply the fact that the Lord came as Divine truth that meant that He had to be male.

Masculine and Feminine
Perhaps to understand this better we need to examine exactly what the relationship is between good and truth, and masculinity and femininity. What does the masculine represent?
"The inmost quality in masculinity is love, and it’s veil is wisdom, or in other words, it is love veiled with wisdom, while the inmost quality in femininity is that same wisdom, the wisdom of masculinity, and its veil the love resulting from it" (Married Love 32).
"A male is born intellect-oriented and ... a female is born will-oriented, or in other words, ... a male is born with an affection for knowing, understanding and becoming wise, while a female is born with a love for joining herself to that affection in the male" (Married Love 33).

So if the Lord was meant to be the Word made flesh, it makes sense that He would need to be born with an affection for knowing, understanding and becoming wise. And if the masculine is ultimately ‘love veiled with wisdom’ it makes sense that the Lord would also follow this pattern because the Lord is Divine love clothed with Divine wisdom. This all makes sense, but one still might wonder: if men and women are equal, and both are created in the image of God, then it seems out of balance for the nature of the Lord to be reflected in the spiritual structure of men, more than that of women. Again, there must be something deeper going on here.

The Divine Human
Perhaps a better understanding can be gained on this subject if we explore the nature of the Lord’s Divine Human and His Divine Natural. “After He assumed the Human in the world, He also became Man in ultimates,” (Doctrine of the Lord 36). Gender issues aside, it is important to know that when the Lord was born, His body was completely natural just like our bodies. This represents the fact that God is human and we are human because God is human.
"He has a body and every thing pertaining to it, that is, a face, breast abdomen, loins and feet; for without these He would not be a Man" (Divine Love and Wisdom 18).

A full understanding of this fact is what leads to a full understanding of the fact that God is human and has a personality. It prevents us from getting the false impression that God is an impersonal force. But at the same time we need to recognize that He is much more than a human body.
Here is an analogy that helps to explain this concept: The Lord was in a finite body, in a similar way that the Divine truth is contained in the Bible. The Bible as a natural, physical object is not Divine truth, but it contains within it Divine truth. In a similar way, Jesus’ body, as a natural, physical object was not Divine, but it contained within it Divinity.
After the Lord was glorified, He put off the human from Mary, and put on the Human from the Father (see Doctrine of the Lord 35:2). And unlike us when we die (see Married Love 32, 44), the Lord did not retain His gender when He was glorified. He could not have, since He was now joined to His Divine soul which was the source of both genders. The Lord was no longer constrained by masculinity, just as He was no longer constrained by time and space. But once again, lest we imagine God as being without Person, we are taught that He rose “with His whole body,” (Doctrine of the Lord 35:9) and yet “His body was not now material, but Divine substantial.” (Doctrine of the Lord 35:10) So while this may be a comfort for some to know that the glorified Lord is no longer constrained by masculinity, we are still left with the problem of trying to picture God in a human form. (It is interesting to note that when Jesus was glorified, He became the ‘Holy Spirit’; a name which is not constrained by masculinity.)
In the first advent, the Lord gave us an image of His humanity and personality by coming to earth in human form. But we are caught in the paradoxical place of needing to recognize that while God Himself came to earth in the material body of Jesus Christ, God is no longer limited by the material body of Jesus Christ. However if we simply forget about the life of Jesus Christ in an effort to move away from the associated constraints of masculinity, then we also move away from the power of the life of the One who brought us salvation. On the other hand, if we recognize that God is in essence Divine love and Divine wisdom, and that in fact “the Divine is imaged in a pair who are in truly conjugial love,” (Heaven and Hell 374) then we are at risk of falling into the trap that the Christian world fell into when they separated God into separate persons. How do we picture one human God from whom comes both masculinity and femininity?
The Writings of Swedenborg help us with this problem by reminding us that we should:
"Think about God in terms of essence, and from this think about person. Thinking in terms of person about essence means thinking materially about essence too. But thinking about person in terms of essence means thinking spiritually also about person" (True Christianity 623:5).

So we should remember that the essence of God existed in the actual person of Jesus Christ, while not being constrained by the masculine nature of that person. We need to think about the Lord as being the First and the Last... at the same time. In heaven, when the angels read the Word, the story of Jesus Christ is not limited by mere masculinity for them as it often is for us. This is because they are thinking spiritually, and not naturally. This is not easy to do, but it is what we too should strive for.

Why Not A Woman?
While the above ideas may help us with the mental problem of trying to think spiritually about the Lord beyond the masculine body of Jesus Christ, we are still left wondering: why did the Lord choose a masculine body over a feminine body?
As was mentioned above, in the Word, Sarah represents the Lord’s Divine truth, so would it not have been possible for a female Messiah to embody Divine truth? We also find many references in the Word to imagery that paints the Lord in a feminine way. "Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy on us." (Psalm 123.2)  For example in Deuteronomy 32:11-12, and Matthew 23:37 the Lord is compared to a female bird who wishes to protect her young under her wings. The Writings indicate that in both cases this represents the power and protection of Divine truth (see Apocalypse Revealed 245). In Deuteronomy 32:18 it says, “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave your birth.” The Writings indicate that here too, the ‘Rock’ signifies the truth (see Secrets of Heaven 8581). In Isaiah we find these passages:
"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb;"  (Isaiah 44:24)
"Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by Me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save." (Isaiah 46:3-4)
"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you."  (Isaiah 49:15)

The Writings indicate that all of these passages have reference to the fact that the Lord is the one who regenerates us; or in other words the one who gives birth to us spiritually (see Apocalypse Explained 710:3,11,14). So if a woman could have represented Divine truth and also the one who regenerates us, why could the female form not have been appropriate for the Messiah?
A simple and not very satisfying answer is that even though perhaps theoretically the Lord could have come as a female Messiah, still He did not. So trying to picture God in the form of a woman actually distances us from the person of the Lord God Jesus Christ. But it is useful to remember that the reasons for why the advent happened the way it did, where it did, and when it did, are not only based on the Lord’s Divine plan, but also on His reaction to our natural choices.
If we try to answer the question by looking at natural reasons, it is pretty clear: The culture of that part of the world at that time would not have accepted a female Messiah. It was an extremely patriarchal society. Hebrew and Jewish women in Biblical times were subject to their fathers and husbands. They were not counted in the censuses of the Torah, or involved in many of the religious practices. Punishments were usually more harsh for women than for men. They were in many ways considered a form of property. Polygamy was common. There are numerous laws listed in the Torah which show how women were second-class citizens, and in no way socially equal to men. The few women who had power, such as Miriam, were usually still subject to men.
When Jesus came to that church, He radically changed the way that women were viewed by how He treated them. He spoke with women (even foreign women) in public, and He had women disciples and friends. He forgave a woman caught in adultery, and He encourage people to think differently about divorce, and many of the other laws of the Torah. The Lord treated women as equals, and paved the way for how women are treated today. If the Lord had come as a woman, the culture would not have accepted her as a leader and therefore society would not have changed.
This illustrates the fact that the way the Lord appears to us (both in our minds and in the actual advent) is largely dependent on our state of reception. (see Secrets of Heaven 2520:2, 2533.2) The limited understandings - and consequent culture - of the Jews paved the way for the necessity of a male Messiah. The language of the Word, and in fact the very history of the Word, reflects humanity’s limited understanding of God. Just as we can get stuck on the appearance that God is angry, we can get stuck on the appearance that God is male.

Our Relationship With The Lord
But I am still left with wanting a more satisfying answer regarding the spiritual reasons for why the Lord came as a male. There must be a way that the equal and complementary duality of masculinity and femininity is reflected in our understanding of the Lord. As I mentioned before, women can represent either good or truth in different circumstances. Perhaps a closer look at what those circumstances are will help us gain greater clarity on this:
"In the celestial church the husband was in good, and the wife in the truth of this good; but in the spiritual church the man is in truth, and the wife in the good of this truth" (Secrets of Heaven 4823; see also 5946).

In the Word, the Lord is often referred to as the Bridegroom or Husband of the church. This brings up the interesting point that in the Word,
"a bridegroom means the Lord in respect to Divine good, and a bride means the church in respect to Divine truth from the Lord. For a church is a church by virtue of its reception of the Lord's Divine goodness in the Divine truths that it has from Him" (Apocalypse Revealed 797).

But outside of the Word, in our actual lives,
"A husband does not represent the Lord and his wife the church, because both husbands and wives together form the church.... Rather, the correspondence rests with married love, insemination, procreation, love for little children, and other things of a similar sort that occur in marriage and result from it" (Married Love 116).

So how do we synthesize all of these teachings? And how does it help to answer our question of why the Lord came as a man?
All of these numbers point to the idea of a process. The Lord was born on this earth as Divine truth, but through the process of glorification He became Divine good; the Bridegroom of the church. We also have a process in us of learning truths from the Lord that eventually lead to good from the Lord. And that process eventually moves on from truths-leading-to-good (spiritual) to good-leading-to-truths (celestial). And our relationship with the Lord is ultimately like the process of marriage, while at the same time like the state of being parented. But these points need more cohesion. So to gain more clarity let us explore the nature of our relationship with the Lord as His church.

The Church
In the Word, the feminine usually represent the church in the sense of mere humanity. From the very beginning, with the creation of Eve, the form of a woman has represented our sense of self.
"The meaning of the woman as the church can be seen from the heavenly marriage described above in number 155 [Secrets of Heaven 155]. The heavenly marriage is a relationship in which heaven (and so the church) is united to the Lord through its sense of self. In fact heaven and the church are to be found in the feeling of independent existence, because without it there could never be union. When the Lord in His mercy infuses our selfhood with innocence, peace, and goodness, it still seems to be our own, but it becomes heavenly and full of the greatest blessings.... Because of the heavenly, angelic sense of self, the Word calls the church a woman, a wife, and a bride, young woman, and daughter."  (Secrets of Heaven 252-253).

But in another sense the church is not us, but actually our relationship with the Lord:
"The church comes from the Lord and it exists in people who go to Him and live according to His commandments.... Love is what conjoins, and conjunction with the Lord is the church" (Married Love 129).

So in one sense the church is humanity: finite imperfect people. But in another sense the church is an ideal that is apart from us. We might even think of the Lord and His church (in the ideal sense) as the ultimate image of a conjugial couple, where they are no longer two but one. But there is more:
"While we call the total assemblage of angels heaven because they do make it up, what really makes heaven overall and in every specific instance is the Divine Nature that emanates from the Lord, flowing into angels and accepted by them.... If people are in heaven or in the church, they are in the Lord and the Lord is in them" (Heaven and Hell 7,11).

So in a third sense the church is the Lord. The church is the Lord with us. And in that sense, the Lord takes on a feminine form, in the form of the church.

Representation of Women
In the Word, women represent a number of different things, but they are always placed in the context of men. Regarding natural reasons, we might say that this is because of the history of male-dominated society. But regarding spiritual reasons we might say that this is because women represent conjunction. When a woman represents truth, she is representing truth in it’s conjunction with good. When a woman represents good, she is representing good in it’s conjunction with truth. “A female is born with a love for joining herself to that affection in the male” (Married Love 33). It can seem out of balance or unfair that when the Lord is Divine truth He is usually represented by a man, and when He is Divine good He is also usually represented by a man. But perhaps it is that ‘distinguishing into parts’ that is represented by the masculine. Perhaps the feminine represents the conjunction (rather than separation) of good and truth in the Lord?
The masculine likes to understand and distinguish. The feminine likes to conjoin. “For the intellect has to do with light, and love with warmth, and concerns that are matters of light are seen, whereas concerns that are matters of warmth are felt” (Married Love 168).  We first come to know the Lord through His distinguishable elements. As we come to understand the Lord in this way, we ‘see’ Him. And because that understanding has to do with our intellect, He appears to us as masculine. But once we have moved out of that spiritual state into a celestial state, and we experience that conjunction of good and truth in us, in the Lord, and between us and the Lord, we ‘feel’ Him. And because that feeling has to do with our will, we experience the Lord as a marriage or conjunction that is very often represented by a woman (the church).
"It seems as though truth is the primary thing in the church, because it is its first concern in time.... The good of charity is nevertheless the primary thing in the church... Now because the good of charity is from the Lord, and truth of faith exists in a person as though it originated with him, and because these two form the kind of conjunction of the Lord with people and of people with the Lord... it is apparent that this conjunction is the church" (Married Love 126).

Conclusion
So why did the Lord not come as a woman? Because the form of a woman represents the Lord inside of us. We do not see or worship the Lord inside of us; we live the Lord inside of us! “The reason is that goodness is a matter of warmth rather than light, and warmth is not seen but felt” (Married Love 123).  Picturing and worshiping the Lord as outside of us is an intellectual, spiritual thing to do, and is represented by the masculine. This is the first, and necessary step in the process, but the end goal is that we should feel and live the Lord! That is the loving, celestial thing to do, and is represented by the feminine.
So the Lord in His first advent came in the form of a man because the masculine represents that first step in our spiritual process, and that is what the advent is. But it is only an appearance that truth is the primary thing of the church, just as the masculine form of Jesus Christ was only an appearance of the full humanity of God. He also came in the form of a man because the masculine represents that spiritual awareness that God is outside of ourselves, whereas the feminine represents that celestial awareness of God living in us and conjoined with us. There is much more to be studied on this subject than is possible in the scope of this paper, but my hope is that some of these ideas will be useful to people in understanding our relationship with the Lord God Jesus Christ.

13 comments:

  1. Thank you Solomon for this in-depth study! I really appreciate the research and thought that went into it, and I really love the picture of the Lord within us, as the church, being the unsee-able feminine side. Also of course this can be carried to bear weight on the issue of an all-male priesthood! Thanks again!

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  2. Yeah, I'm not sure exactly in what direction it bears weight on the issue of an all-male priesthood. I like to think of the priesthood as being a part of the church, and therefore a part of that feminine form. This study does raise some interesting questions on the subject of an all-male priesthood. I would be interested to study that further.

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  3. If this didn't have a date, I'd be tempted to think you posted this in the 19th century. "A male is born intellect-oriented and ... a female is born will-oriented, or in other words, ... a male is born with an affection for knowing, understanding and becoming wise, while a female is born with a love for joining herself to that affection in the male." I am a female, yet extremely intellectually oriented. I can say I was not born with the desire to join myself to a male and his affections. I have no motherly drive, view marriage as a cage, and have an unquenchable drive to know, piece together, synthesize, and understand. Your views on this are exactly why there is still a gender pay gap between men and women working in the same jobs with equal levels of education. I can say that is it fairly obvious that Elizabeth I had no desire to join herself with a man. She was an avid scholar from the time she was a small child. Despite the rumors of an affair with her Master of Horse, Robert Dudley, she never acted on whatever impulses may have existed. Marie Curie also had the desire to know. I think a beneficial and educating line of study for you would be to research personality type. It has been verified that we are all born with certain tendencies. What if I was born with your so-called masculine tendencies? Too bad for me? Mistake in the manufacturing process? Repress my thirst for knowledge and relegate myself to supporting a man emotionally? Can these labels (masculine, feminine) really apply to every member of their respective gender? I know boys who are more caring than I. Every boy I have known has regarded me in the light of a nerd stereotype. Part of IQ, the measure of logical & abstract thinking, is the desire to puzzle things out. IQ doesn't discriminate between gender. There was an interesting anecdote in a book on physics paradoxes I recently read. Vos Savant, a woman with an IQ of 185, the highest at that time, had a column where readers submitted their most challenging mathematical problems. One such problem was the Monty Hall Paradox. Basically, as it is too lengthy to describe here, she correctly solved the paradox and subsequently got hate mail from male mathematicians telling her if she didn't understand mathematics then she should take herself away from the column for the good of everyone. Those male mathematicians didn't even both to solve the paradox to begin with, so sure they were that they were right. You cannot put men and women into these boxes that determine how this gender acts and this gender acts. Women scientists serve to debunk your statement that it is the men who have the urge to know.

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  4. Hello! Thank you for your comments and concerns. I want to reassure you that I share many of your concerns. I too don’t believe that we should have a gender pay gap between men and women working in the same jobs. I believe in the balance and equality of the sexes. The purpose of my paper was to try to challenge the assumption that God is male, using the theological writings of my denomination.
    And I’m not surprised that you were tempted to think that this paper was written in the 19th century. It was based on the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg who was a theologian in the 18th century. A lot of the phrasing in my paper comes from quoting and using his 18th century terminology.
    Swedenborg uses terminology like “intellect-oriented” and “will-oriented” to try to indicate the differences between the sexes. This doesn’t mean that women aren’t intelligent, or that men aren’t emotional. And Swedenborg acknowledges this in his book “Heaven and Hell” (paragraph number 369). As you say, IQ doesn’t discriminate between gender. It’s just a way of describing the general tendencies between the sexes as a whole. Scientists have shown that in general men and women’s brains are different. Here’s an article that talks about the difference between male and female brains (http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-male-female-brains-differ). While there are definitely differences, how to describe those differences can be difficult to pinpoint. Especially because not all men are the same, and not all women are the same. Lately I’ve tended to use the terms “distinction” and “conjunction.” From what I’ve learned, it seems that men in general tend to focus on distinction (separating things out, putting things in boxes, etc.), while women tend to focus on conjunction (seeing how things fit together). And this would apply to both cognitive things and emotional things. (I like this comedian’s take on it, even though it’s a comedic exaggerated stereotype: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BxckAMaTDc).
    And science has also shown that there are “bridge-brains” (see this article: http://www.infoq.com/articles/gender-intelligence) in which a certain percentage of men have brains that function more like women’s, and vice versa. I think in some ways my wife and I might fall into that category. There is even a passage in Swedenborg’s writings which indicates that sometimes men and women seem one way, and other times they seem the opposite. Sometimes it’s the women who have the urge to know, and the men who are more affectional (see Swedenborg’s work “Arcana Coelestia” paragraph number 8994.4).
    I think it’s really important to try to understand the differences between men and women, not so that we can be separated, but so that men and women can work better together, and so we can respect each other for our differences. I think Jesus did a lot to begin that process while he was on earth. He dispelled a lot of the sense of the need for hierarchy between men and women. And I think the world is much better for it now, even though we still have work to do to continue to achieve greater balance and equality between the sexes. I’m currently working on a paper to present to the clergy of my denomination on why I think we should ordain women into the priesthood.
    So thanks again for sharing your comments and concerns. I’d be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this topic.

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  5. Hey, thanks for the informative post! I feel much better about myself now. Before I used to wonder exactly why God created women (other than being a partner). I always wished there was a deeper meaning behind it and was actually jealous that God only created men in His image. A lot of times I wished I were a man because then I would be the "favored and loved one." But I'm really starting to believe men and women are images of different aspects of God. I know some men think women were created in their image, and there's actually a Bible verse saying that. But to me, it sounds like they're proclaiming they are gods or like God. Men and women are just way too different, and only God understands each gender perfectly. I hope that reasoning makes sense.

    God's views on women and what God was thinking when Eve was created is kind of a mystery. Plenty is known about men and God's views on them, IMO. But women--not so much.

    Thanks for shining light on the subject and writing such a thoughtful post. I hope your paper was successful!

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  6. proverbs 3: 13-19 1 cor. 1:24 maybe when Jesus was with God in the beginning Jesus (wisdom) was female. Coming to earth in the flesh, Jesus needed to be male because a female wouldn't be allowed to teach in Israel at that time. At least that way Genesis makes sense. It's just a thought, that's all.

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  7. ...... I find this sexist.... Woman desire the affections of a man, and doesn't seek to understand and obtain knowledge/wisdom....? Brother..... No. Just, NO. I'm an engineer that happens to have physical female part. But as far as I am concerned, I fall under the category of description of a man, according to you. No, I'm not a lesbian. No, I'm not a feminazi. Yes, I'm saved. It would've been more credible if you used biblical verses to state your insight, not books that represent narrow-minded opinions. Like said by Anonymous; wisdom is described as a woman.

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  8. Hi Su-Mari. Thanks for your comments! I’m sorry that this paper came across as sexist to you. That was certainly not my intent, or what I stand for. I’m actually one of the few members in the clergy of my church who is working to open up the clergy to women (it’s unfortunately still an exclusively male-only clergy). As I said in a comment above: I believe in the balance and equality of the sexes. The purpose of my paper was to try to challenge the assumption that God is exclusively male, using the theological writings of my denomination. Those theological writings were written down by a single man in the 18th century at a time when patriarchy was the norm. And so they contain quotes such as the following which can sound pretty sexist: “A male is born with an affection for knowing, understanding and becoming wise, while a female is born with a love for joining herself to that affection in the male.” (E. Swedenborg. “Married Love” 33). But in many other places Swedenborg talks about how the affection for knowing, understanding and becoming wise is a human trait, not just a masculine trait. “People [both men and women] have nothing else innate except a faculty for knowing, understanding, and becoming wise, as well as a tendency to love not only knowledge, understanding, and wisdom but also their neighbor and their God. (E. Swedenborg. “True Christianity” 335.7) Everybody (both men and women) wants to know and understanding things; it’s natural human curiosity. Both men and women are capable of being intelligent and wise. And of course men desire the affections of women, just as women desire the affections of men. I’m sorry if you thought I was saying otherwise. As much as the 18th century language of Swedenborg can sound misogynistic at times, his works were actually surprisingly not misogynistic for his time period. For example, he talked about a kind of wisdom that women have which exceeds the wisdom of men (See E. Swedenborg. “Married Love” 208.2). And over and over he tried to show that the masculine and feminine are two equal and complementary parts of humanity. Anyway, because of the nature and intended audience for this paper, it focussed largely on Swedenborg’s theological works. However, in addition to quotes from that source, this paper contains a number of Biblical verses, specifically in reference to the Scriptural feminine imagery for God. I don’t know if anything I’ve said has addressed or alleviated your concerns or not. If you’re interested, I have another paper (a much longer one) called “A Doctrinal Foundation for a Gender-Inclusive Clergy in the General Church.” Once again, that paper’s intended audience is pretty specific (primary the clergy and membership of my small denomination based on the Bible and the theological works of Swedenborg), but it does describe in more detail my beliefs about the equality of men and women. Thanks again for your thoughts. I hope you have a great day. Peace.

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  9. Mr.Solomon Keal- however much you try to please men and women you will not succeed.
    Why?-As Su Mary Diedricks pointed out you cannot merely attribute subjective gender stereotypes that may or may not change.
    The only thing that won't change is God and God's Word - Bible.
    Bible points out that God created Adam first,then Eve.Eve fell into sin first,not Adam- For these reasons submission is required from women-1 Thimothy 2:9-15.-But Why?
    Because Women are under enimity from Satan due to curse of the original sin(Eden Garden)Genesis 3:15.

    We must understand God created all creation to project his glory.
    That is why 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and particularly 1 Corinthians 11:3 says God is the head of Christ ,Christ is the head of man,Man is the head of woman and Woman is the head of Angels(1 Corinthians 11:10).

    So since Man reflects the Glory of Christ-God,Woman reflect the glory of Man,and Angels reflect the glory of Woman.
    This is the order in which spirit beings reflect the Glory of God the father-Elohim-That is God-Christ-Man-Woman-Angel.

    Thus Jesus came as man and not woman inorder to project the God's order of glory-God-Christ-Man-Woman-Angel.
    Because of this and also of because Eve sinned first at Garden of Eden ,God requires submission from women.
    That is why God donot allow women to be Pastors/Overseers /Bishops in 1 Thimothy 3:1-7.
    But God allows Women in all other formes of ministry like Deacons-1 Corinthians 3:11,Phoebe,Apostle Junia,Synteche,Eudia,Mary etc.- That is women can preach and teach the Gospel and God's Word as long as they donot dominate over men.

    Women can preach the Gospel-Evangelize and plant churches and thus can be Apostles, but women are still not allowed to be Pastor/Overseer /Bishop of the local church ,inorder to reflect the Godly order of creation.

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  10. Dear Jan, I totally agree with your comment. We could certainly understand the Godly order of creation only by taking the WORD OF GOD as the final authority, if so we can be clear in why Jesus was born a male.

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  11. Hi Jan and Mary. Thanks for your comments. One of the first statements in the Bible is that both men and women were created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:27). I believe that the parable of Adam and Eve describes aspects of all people (see http://whatthebiblesays.info/AdamandEve.html). There’s an “Adam” and an “Eve” in all of us. We need to make sure our will is in submission to our understanding of God’s Word. But I do not believe that God intended for one gender to be in submission to another gender (see http://whatthebiblesays.info/SexualEquality.html). One gender is not closer to God than another. “There is neither male nor female: For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 4:28). One gender is not more or less sinful than another. We are all cursed by the power of Hell in our life. Our job (whether man or woman) is to submit ourselves to God’s leadership and authority. And I recognize that people have different ways of seeing and understanding the Bible. I am simply sharing how I understanding God’s Word. Thanks again for your thoughts. Peace.

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  12. I’m a 19 year old female and I’m trying to get to know God. Unfortunately, I find it really hard to accept Christ into my heart because I feel HE doesn’t truly understand me.
    This article helped me a lot, and I appreciate the parenthetical sources and deep thought. However, when it’s stated that women are built with a love for joining herself with that affection for intellect within the male, I just get confused.
    I’m a natural intellect. I was the top student of my college calculus series as a high schooler, graduated valedictorian, and have been accepted to prestigious universities for engineering.
    Maybe it’s the people I spend my time with but I’ve noticed in my life that women have if anything, been MORE intellectually and curiosity driven than most men. At least, for myself that is true.
    So I guess my question is, if those so called “masculine” features are so predominant in some women, such as myself, (I’m sure some men have predominantly more “femanine” features) then why did Jesus have to be a physical man? He could have been a physical woman with those masculine features, like me.
    Also, I don’t think he came as a man so that society would accept. From what I’ve read in the Bible, he didn’t give a crap whether society accepted him.
    I tried to ask my dad about this and he said that God’s call to women was to support men and be homemakers. That freaks me out and is the reason so many of my friends won’t go to church.
    I really wish I could tell them something else, I wish I could tell myself something else.
    How does a naturally curious, intellectual, career oriented, love manifesting as wisdom, women be understood by Christ?

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that woman can be just as intellectual as men (and sometime more). Both men and women have will and intellect, heart and mind. I think when Swedenborg wrote in his book Conjugial Love that “a female is born with a love for joining herself to that affection (for becoming wise) in the male” he wasn’t talking about the regular intelligence and wisdom that both men and women have, he was talking about something different. In that book he identifies “True Conjugial Love” as a special kind of spiritual true marriage love which flows from the Lord through a wife into her husband. But in order for that love to be received by her husband, the man has to have something in him to receive it, and that thing is essentially “True Conjugial Wisdom.” My understanding is that this “wisdom” is when a man uses his intellect to choose to love only one woman (his wife). I think Swedenborg is saying that women typically love it when a man has the affection for that kind of wisdom.

      It’s a very good point that Jesus didn’t shy away from being counter-cultural. But I do think that given the extreme patriarchy of the time, a female Messiah would not have been able to have the same impact as a male Messiah.

      My understanding is that God’s call is for men and women to support each other equally.

      My wife has written a wonderful paper about the feminine side of God, which you can read on her blog if you’re interested: https://exploringtirah.blogspot.com/

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