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Poverty of Defeminization


In the past few decades much of the world has become aware of the plight of women world-wide who are abused and persecuted within their own societies, homes, and religious communities. In 1993 an article appeared in the May, 1993 issue of The Advent Review, North American Edition, on page 15, entitled The Feminization of Poverty, by Ramona Perez-Greek. After having read the article, and finding that it stopped short of addressing the real issue underlying the warfare against women, and the resulting poverty they experience, I was moved to write a response to that article.

Both of these articles are contained herein in the order they were written.


The Feminization of Poverty

 To be female is most often to be poor.

The dimensions of poverty in our world today are staggering. The "feminization of poverty" is evident in the facts and statistics displayed by research. In a sense one can say that to be poor is to be female. Statistics indicate that women are the majority of the poor; they work the longest hours, they earn the lowest pay, and they receive the fewest benefits. Life for rural women is governed by survival needs and the quest for food, water, and fuel combined with the endless work at home and in the fields.

Many factors account for the imbalance in poverty statistics. Growing family instability, strained by economic elements, has increased the number of woman-headed households. Gender disparity in income-earning make these households universally the poorest. A vast number of women struggle each day worldwide to support themselves and their families.

On a recent trip to Asia I saw the difficult conditions in which many women live. I walked the streets of Cambodia at 5:00 am. to take my daily exercise, and the people I saw still haunt my mind. Many families – men, women, and children – slept on concrete sidewalks, on dirt roads, on thin newspaper makeshift mats. As I stepped over them I felt a deep emptiness. These people hovered over tiny one-burner pits on the ground to keep warm. I saw two young girls in the darkness of the morning hour carefully combing a large garbage bin for rotten food.

Another barrier that locks generations of women into a cycle of poverty is the lack of education opportunities. Of the world's millions of illiterates, two thirds are women. Obstacles to education for women are varied. In developing countries parents withdraw girls from school years before boys so they can remain at


home and lug water, work the fields, raise younger siblings, and help with domestic chores.

In some places after being bartered off to a new family, with little education and no knowledge of birth control, young brides soon become young mothers. A woman's entire adulthood is often spent in a state of pregnancy, hoping for sons.

While in China my husband and I met a Chinese woman who said that female infanticide still occurs. Billboards in Shanghai displayed two parents happily playing with a baby girl. We were told that these signs represent the government's recent efforts to increase the value of female babies in China.

In India the culture idolizes sons and dreads the birth of daughters. In one survey more than half of the 1,250 women questioned had killed baby daughters. To be born female comes perilously close to being born less than human.

Another factor contributing to women's poverty is the problem of abuse. Abuse of women is global. "There is not a single country in the world in which violence against women is not a significant problem," states Dorothy Q. Thomas, director of the Project of Human Rights Watch. For example, in African and Asian countries, female circumcision is still widely performed, even though it brings serious medical risks and impairs a woman's capacity for sexual enjoyment. Wife beating is common in Kenya as a way to discipline women. In India bride dowry disputes led husbands to kill more than 5,000 wives in 1991. In Brazil a 1991 America's Watch reported, "a man can kill his wife and be acquitted on grounds of honor."

What response should or can the church make? What can it do? The world blames centuries-old cultural and religious traditions for giving legitimacy to gender discrimination. The church cannot blame. It must take the challenge seriously and work to undo what is contrary to God's ideal and the value God places on the human individual."

Ramona Perez-Greek is assistant professor of mental health nursing at Auburn University in Alabama

The Poverty of Defeminization

In the May, 1993 issue of The Advent Review, North American Edition, on page 15, there appears an article entitled The Feminization of Poverty, by Ramona Perez-Greek. In her article, Ramona says, "To be born female comes perilously close to be being born less than human." She also quotes Dorothy Q. Thomas, director of the Project of Human Rights Watch, as follows: "There is not a single country in the world in which violence against women is not a significant problem." She sums up her testimony with this appeal: "What response should or can the church make? What can it do? The world blames century-old culture and religious traditions for giving legitimacy to gender discrimination. The church cannot blame. It must take the challenge seriously and work to undo what is contrary to God's ideal and the value God places on the human individual."

In the dark ages, when married men were no longer allowed to be priests (as they were under the typical ceremonial system) a question of hot debate was, "Are women even human beings?" The theology and traditions which have arisen from the misapplications of the Scriptures regarding gender are the only things which the church can "work to undo," for that work encompasses all that is "contrary to God's ideal."

Ramona states that, "In some places... A woman's entire adulthood is often spent in a state of pregnancy, hoping for sons." What is the source of this unbalanced attitude regarding gender? Do the Scriptures really give license to the defeminization of religion and society? Is the resulting poverty that exists in the many families where the woman's input is considered of little or no value to be blamed on God for presenting to His people, through the Scriptures of truth, an exclusively masculine portrayal of Himself? Isn't this poverty which exists in families and society due to the degradation of the divinely ordained position of the feminine portion of the image God has made of Himself? Isn't the real reason for the exaltation of the masculine image (evidenced by the desire for sons only) because it is generally understood to be the image of God?

Aside from all the debates that abound on the writings of the apostle Paul regarding woman, and other traditional interpretations of the use of gender in the actual words of the Holy Scriptures, there remains an underlying Scriptural representation of gender in relation to God that cannot be denied. And, if it were properly understood and acted upon, it would allow the Holy Spirit of truth to restore all things, "even the first dominion" (Micah 4:8, Gen. 1:26-28), where Adam and Eve were both given dominion over, the earth, but not over each other. Theirs was a holy love relationship.

This undeniable representation of the gender of God is revealed in the different Hebrew words which are translated into English as God, god, gods, and goddess. In the Hebrew of the Bible there are no capital letters as we use today. Therefore, the use of upper case letters is at the discretion of the translators or publishers. The problem lies, though, not so much in the application of upper and lower case, but rather in the lack of uniformity in translating gender and number.

The prime example of purposeful mistranslation is at the very beginning of the Bible. It is written, in Hebrew, "In the beginning Gods (elohim, – plural)...," yet it reads God, singular, in most English translations. The facts, apart from anyone's interpretation of them, are as follows.

There are four Hebrew words which are translated God, two of them are singular, and two of them are plural. The two singular ones are el and eloah. The two plural ones are elim and elohim. When the plural word elohim is applied to true God of Israel it is traditionally translated God, singular. Yet, when the exact same word is applied to a false god, it is translated gods, plural, which is its only correct translation.

But, besides this major inconsistency in translation, there is even a greater error into which men in their presumption have blundered, and that is that they have been led to partially disregard the gender evident in the Hebrew words for God. Ellen White states that "Hebrew was cultivated to be the most sacred tongue in the world." Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 97. Therefore, in the Hebrew language we should expect to find "the most sacred" revelation of God in human language. And, in this most sacred revelation of God (the Hebrew Scriptures) we see an assignment of gender, male and female, in the words el (masculine), and eloah (feminine). Though the singular masculine el is consistently translated according to its number and gender, the singular feminine, eloah, is never translated with its appropriate femininity, even when used of a pagan deity (Daniel 11:38). It should be translated Goddess– not God.

One Sabbath, in the spring of 1988, I was in Spokane, Washington where I met Bruce Johnson, a Conference leader in that area. After discussing the subject of the femininity of God (the Holy Spirit), as portrayed in the Hebrew Scriptures, he stated that he found what I was saying as quite interesting, but suggested that my facts were incorrect, and that I should go to one of our Hebrew scholars and check out my supposed facts. I didn't try to tell him that I had already done this with many authorities, mostly Jewish, but saw that it would be good for him and other Seventh-day Adventists to have the confirmation of one of our own. Bruce had suggested John Dibdahl, who was the head of the Hebrew department at our college in Walla Walla, Washington.

I arrived there on one of the last days of the school year. As John was rather busy, he could only see me for about ten minutes. I presented to him some of our publications which contain the facts which have been stated above, along with the fact that the word for Spirit in Hebrew, ruah, is also feminine. He completely agreed that, according to the laws of the Hebrew language, the word Eloah is definitely feminine, and should be translated Goddess. He also fully agreed that when Jesus told His disciples that he would send them the Holy Spirit, His actual words in Hebrew or Aramaic, regarding the Spirit, would have been spoken, and understood by His hearers, in the feminine gender – "when She comes... She will guide..." John 16.

At the conclusion of our discussion, John said that even though my facts were correct, he did not agree with my conclusion, which was that the Holy Spirit is a feminine Being, Jesus' heavenly Mother. I told him that the Lord had shown me (and others) that the worship of Mary had supplanted the worship of the Holy Spirit, and that we could prove it. He didn't seem interested in looking into the matter any further at that time, and seemed satisfied with the traditional understandings with which his training had provided him.

About 9 years previously, I had met a Catholic priest who said he has known that the Holy Spirit is portrayed as feminine in the Hebrew language and Jewish tradition for "25 years," but asked, "what difference does it make?"

To these, and to others who have knowledge of the facts, I would suggest reading Ramona's article, and when you get to the part where she says, "The world blames century-old cultural and religious traditions for giving legitimacy to gender discrimination," stop, get on your knees, and seek the guidance of God, the Holy Spirit, your heavenly Mother, as to how you may work to undo those false notions of God being portrayed as masculine only (which has no foundation in the Word of God), and to restore the truth of woman's likeness in heaven – the Holy Spirit, a feminine Being. And to our sister Ramona, I would point out that she, herself, showed herself to be a victim of indifference when she said, "What reponse should or can the church make? What can it do?" The Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testaments, refer to the church (the congregation) as being, in God's understanding, feminine. Christ's beloved is not an it. She is to be presented to Him as a "chaste virgin." She is His body, His feminine body.

Though this warfare against true femininity and the equality of the genders can be witnessed virtually everywhere, the real source of this antagonism is, seemingly, more difficult to discern. That source is sin, and its author, the devil. This mystery is revealed in the Scriptures in the Hebrew words which are translated Spirit, law, and, wisdom. These are: ruah (Spirit), torah (law), and hookmah (wisdom). All three words are feminine in Hebrew. All three are they which Lucifer was first to sin against. He sinned against the wisdom that was revealed in God's law which had been written in his heart by the Holy Spirit, at his creation.

Woman is the means which God has ordained to reproduce His family image (Love), and the Holy Spirit (feminine) is the heavenly means for recreating mankind in God's image (by giving birth to spiritual sons and daughters). Therefore, by these realities it is easy to see why Satan hates true femininity, and anything relating to true genderial relationships. Therefore, the only safety one may find, and the only solution to these problems which the church may offer her children and the world, is the absolute truth as "IT IS WRITTEN." Jesus has left us with the invitation to be gathered together under the wings of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18,26; Deuteronomy 32:9-19; Isaiah 63:10). His word to us is, "Come in," She's saying, "I'll give you shelter from the storm." So, let it be!

Living Waters Branch

Doug Mitchell

For further studies on these matters please see our other studies:

By Doug Mitchell:
The Only Safe Sex is Holy Sex
The Real Ghost Story
Shelter From The Storm
Behold the Lamb of God
What The People Are Saying "Babylon, Babylon, Where Did They Get All Of Those Crazy (?) Ideas?"
It's all Greek to Them, The Holy Spirit He, She or It?
She is a Tree of Life
The Four Horns of the Altars of the Sanctuary

By Doug Mitchell and Steve Penners:
The Feminine Principle of Salvation
The "Only Begotten Son" of God

By Lois I. Roden:
The Bride of Christ
As An Eagle
By His Spirit
Behold Thy Mother, Part 1
Behold Thy Mother, Part 2
Behold Thy Mother, Part 3
In Her Image
In The Beginning God...
In Their Image
Merkabah, Part 1
Merkabah, Part 2
Merkabah, Part 3
Merkabah, Part 4
Christ and the Holy Spirit, "Two Turtle Doves"
Christ and the Holy Spirit, Two "Turtle Doves" Jesus and Jonah (Dove) Part 2
The Wife of God
Monthly Field Letter, Sept. 12, 1985 – A "Mother" Eagle
Monthly Field Letter, November/December 1985 – Michael and Gabriel
Monthly Field Letter, January/February 1986 – The Holy Angels
Monthly Field Letter, February 12, 1986 – Michael, Gabriel, and the Spirit of Prophecy
Monthly Field Letter, March/April 1986 – The Angel of the Lord

Shekinah Magazine:
Her Crusade: To tell the world the Holy Spirit is feminine
A History of Feminist Consciousness
'New' Concepts in Christianity Revive Ancient Ideas – Is Holy Spirit Best Seen as Female?
U.S. Woman Sees Holy Spirit as Female Figure
Women influence Assembly

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