Have you seen Disney’s Moana? It’s the story of a strong young woman (who will one day be the chief of her people!) who sets out on a journey to restore balance to the world by returning the stolen heart of the goddess Te Fiti. Not only is this the story of a vibrant female heroine who sets the course of her own destiny, but it’s also the story a young woman of color, AND there is no love interest in sight. Thank you, Disney, for showcasing diversity and doing your best to change the typical female character narrative. We need more of that, so keep it up!
I was watching Moana for the second time yesterday, and I became captivated by the pivotal moment in the movie when Moana realized that Te Kā, the evil volcano demon, is actually the goddess Te Fiti, who became corrupted when her heart was stolen by Maui. I got chills the first time I saw this scene, but yesterday tears sprang to my eyes, and I could not stop thinking about that moment. It’s riveting, but why was I so emotional?
I was still thinking about it at 2:00 AM when I realized the entire movie is about restoring the divine feminine. At that moment, I didn’t just get a little teary-eyed, I wept.
Maui represents everything about patriarchy that is broken in our society. He is “strong,” arrogant, takes charge, and thinks he knows best about how to handle this situation. He dismisses Moana’s purpose outright, deeming her to be unworthy of such a challenge, and going so far as to say that the ocean was mistaken in choosing her. Sound familiar?
Women can’t preach, so you must be mistaken about that calling.
Why don’t you lead a bible study for women’s groups?
Deborah was a special case in the Bible because there were no men to rise up at that time.
The Deborah thing is a real head-scratcher to me. There was not one single man in all of Israel to lead the people as a judge? Really? And I won’t go into exegesis about all of these issues, because many people have already done it, and they did a better job than I ever could. Just do a little searching and you will find mountains about Paul and his writing about women. Side note: It’s possible that I may have cheered out loud yesterday when I read that the First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, TN, (a SBC) named Ellen Di Giosia as their new pastor. WOOT!
What I do know is that women are equal image-bearers of God. Yet, women are frequently told they have “different roles” to fulfill in ministry. And yes, I am just going to say it: often these are lesser roles. The argument is shockingly similar to the “separate but equal” argument used for the segregation of our nation just a few decades ago. The whole “created to be his helpmeet” thing is really something that should be examined in churches. Want to dig into that more? Read this, this and this about the word “ezer.” I included an excerpt from one below:
[…] scholars tallied up the twenty-one times ezer appears in the Old Testament: twice in Genesis for the woman (Genesis 2:18, 20), three times for nations to whom Israel appealed for military aid (Isaiah 30:5; Ezekiel 12:14; Daniel 11:34), and here’s the kicker — sixteen times for God as Israel’s helper (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7, 26, 29; Psalms 20:2; 33:20; 70:5; 89:19 [translated “strength” in the NIV]; 115:9, 10, 11; 121:1 – 2; 124:8; 146:5; Hosea 13:9). This last piece of information created quite a stir as you might imagine, prompting the upgrading of ezer from mere “helper” to “strong helper.”
I think it becomes easier to relegate women to lesser roles in our churches because there is no representation of the feminine aspect of the Creator. Am I right? NONE. And little to no representation of women in church leadership or the pulpit. Women have messages to preach, and we need to hear them.
One of the best parts of the novel The Shack, for me, was the fact that the author chose to represent God as a woman – a black woman. It made so many people uncomfortable, but I LOVED it. Listen friends, the Bible says I was made in God’s image. Which means God looks like a woman, too. And that’s why this moment in Moana spoke right to my heart. Women in the church are desperate for representation as divine image-bearers.
As Moana struggles to return the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, she finds the goddess missing. Without her heart, this goddess of life and creation has changed into something dark and destructive. I could draw some parallels to the blood-thirsty representation of God in the Old Testament, but I might be accused of heresy. Instead, I’ll just say that the God that ordered the murder of women and children in the Old Testament (as Israel conquered nation after nation) seems to be in sharp contrast to Jesus, who said if you are angry with your brother, you have committed murder in your heart.
If Jesus is “God with Us” (Emmanuel), and a perfect representation of God’s heart, then I am going to assume that Jesus depicts God most accurately; the God that made me, a female, in the image of the Creator. Isn’t that why so many of us are drawn to the way of Jesus? He leveled the playing field for the marginalized.
Jesus let women follow him and be his disciples, and women were the first to find the empty tomb and see him after the resurrection, giving them a very distinct and important position in what would become the brand new church. THEY BROUGHT THE MESSAGE OF THE RISEN SAVIOR TO THE MEN. Just think about that for a second. Women were the first to share this life-altering news. LOVE!
Moana overcame tremendous obstacles to restore the sacred feminine in her world. Women, we must stand up and restore the sacred feminine to our world. We can’t let the Mauis of our world derail us. They will say we can’t. They will say we are mistaken. They will do everything they can to discourage us. We must persevere anyway, like Moana.
We have to believe it is our duty to restore our place as image-bearers and equals. If there is no male or female, Jew or gentile, slave or free in Christ, then we need to move toward the fullness of that salvation. We are co-heirs.
Sing with me:
I have crossed the horizon to find You.
How many of us have crossed oceans looking for our place with God, within ministry, and within the church? How much have we had to fight for our God-given roles and callings? I know we’re tired, ladies. I am tired. Remember whose daughters we are… keep going!
I know Your name.
God has many names. What is whispering in your heart? The God who heals? The God who saves? Ezer? The strong helper? The shield?
They have stolen the heart from inside You.
Our society really embraces masculine energy and traits, and our world is out of balance because of it. Ladies, we must restore the heart… God’s heart of compassion, empathy, and agape love. We are tearing each other down, instead of building each other up. As Glennon Doyle says, “We belong to each other.”
But this does not define you.
We have let others define God’s character for too long. As Christians, our holy book told us we are all created in the image of God, female and male. We should reject anything but fullness and equality in our salvation in Christ. Patriarchy is part of the broken system of this world, just like slavery, which we have since rejected. Jesus showed us another way.
This is not who You are.
Male and Female aspects reside within our Creator. God is all in all – the I am that I am. She is the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep and rescues the one. Control and domination are just symptoms of fear. Our society seeks to control what it doesn’t understand. Has anything been more misunderstood throughout the ages than God? What institution has exerted more fear and control than religion, in the name of God? Perfect love casts out fear. God IS love and anything else is just fear talking.
I know who You are.
We must understand God as a perfect whole, without anything missing or broken. We contain aspects of God, bearing the image of divinity. We are tasked with bringing the light of Christ (God with us) to the world. Moana shined her light on the hill and brought restoration to her world.
Let us bring heaven to earth. It’s time to return the female heart of God – it’s time to shine our light on the hill.