In my studies, I’ve come across a distinct confusion regarding the nature of what masculine is and what feminine is, especially when it comes to the interpretation of spiritual matters. This misunderstanding has been caused by many factors, and has caused many wrong traditional practices and problems. These have conspired to eliminate the historical and proper understanding of these attributes.
Firstly, these things are caused by the application of erotic language to spiritual things, as well as bridal mysticism. The application of erotic language is a mistake, for spirit can not be thought of in terms of flesh. Therefore, eros love is Biblically inappropriate to anything to do with God, including its use in songs. It’s impossible to prove a lack of presence of anything, but one can take the exercise to look at the New Testament definitions of “love”. The one almost exclusively used is agape in describing the love for the Father or the Son. Not eros, which is where we get the word “erotic”, which relates to carnal, physical, sexual intents. Given the nature of such things, it doesn’t make sense on the face of it to consider such language towards the things of God.
The justification people have for erotic language is the practice of bridal mysticism, or the confusion of Biblical roles and identities. The misapplication of Scriptural references of “the Bride of Christ” in referencing the individual instead of the group as a whole to justify bridal mysticism has happened for a very long time (since about 1200AD or so), but only has gotten more common for the last 20-30 years due to the rise of the “Jesus is my boyfriend” gospel and the desire to express it. This is further exacerbated by an endemic misunderstanding of the symbolic meaning of marriage.
Secondly, the historical understanding of gender has been eliminated through the assigning of bodily sexual characteristics to the historical use of gender identifiers. This has been done because of poor education, but also because of the prejudicial actions of the feminists. The drive to make language gender-neutral comes from these things, and well seen in the Feminist Bible and other more modern translations. While people don’t realize it, gender designations impart a certain meaning.
If you study Roman languages (Spanish for example), you’ll note pretty quickly that different words that relate to both people and inanimate objects are classified as masculine or feminine and the language changes to denote these classifications. For example (please excuse the lack of accent marks):
The word “the” (and sometimes the word) changes in each of these things due to the application of gender. The particular applications to inanimate objects are of interest in this discussion because they bring out a meaning that’s different to us. Podles writes on this question (p84):
Integration and communion are at the heart of femininity, as separation and differentiation are at the heart of masculinity.
So, to bring this around to the application of the spiritual things, Christ is masculine as He is a separator and differentiates. While He appeared on earth as a man and not as a woman, it is a mistake to think of Him now in terms of mere flesh but of Spirit. He says this Himself:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-38)
If we apply this to the believer, this also makes the individual believer (both man and woman) masculine since they are both conformed into the image of Christ and follow a journey of separation from the world and flesh. This understanding is reinforced by the King James referring to all individual believers as the sons of God. Calling a female fully in-Christ believer “son of God” is appropriate, since there was no begotten daughter of God. As Podles writes:
In the New Testament, Christians are referred to as the sons and daughters of God only in quotation from the Old Testament. Otherwise, they are referred to as the children of God, sometimes with an implication of immaturity, or proleptically as the sons of God, with emphasis upon what they are destined to become . . . The begetting of the Son by the Father and the begetting of the Christian by God is a revelation of something humanity could never have imagined. The Son is truly begotten of God; he is not simply “like” God, the closest thing to God of any creature; rather he is the same substance (ousia) as God. He is the only-begotten; there is no other like him.
Yet Christians are also begotten in a sense that surpasses all metaphor and is almost impossible for reason to fathom. The Son, by pouring forth the Holy Spirit, creates other sons. He conforms both men and women to his own image as Son, by that making them all God’s sons (not daughters). God has no only-begotten daughter; he therefore has no daughters begotten of the Spirit, only sons. There is only one pattern for both men and women to be conformed to, that of the Son. In the Son, Christians become deiform, apotheosized, and achieve an intimacy and union with the godhead that is beyond the categories of natural reason. Christians are the children of God, growing into the image of the Son, that they may also become sons of the Father.
The Church, however, is feminine. This is not because of any flesh-related things – again it is a mistake to think of the Church in terms of anything but Spirit. This is because the Church is concerned with integration, relationship, and communion. These attributes occur because the Church is the body of Christ on the earth of whom He is the head.
As with the issue of the separation and differentiation of the believer away from the world and towards Christ, the integration, communion, and relationship of believers with one another as a part of the Church can be shown with numerous Scriptures (many more beyond the ones cited). These themes occur again and again throughout all of Scripture.
Traditionalists and feminists have sought to throw away the true equality that women are given in Scripture before Christ in favor of creating heresy for trying to identify themselves in an unscriptural wicked way. This involves placing the rightful burdens of women onto men instead of making women carry their own burdens. And lately, it even involves rejecting the nature of Christ, as feminists and lately Churchianity-at-large has done. This means a woman identifying herself as a “princess of God” or “daughter of the King” is being heretical, as she is not recognizing the separatory nature of Christ with the world.
Interestingly enough for the neo-feminists bellowing about equality, especially within the Church, they spit on something that places men and women as true equals on the journey with Christ. Both are given the same rules and requirements before Him, and God does not respect persons in His judgment. In doing this, they make their true nature clearly known.