As I examine the Bible, I'm constantly striving to rip away the layers of teaching and theology that I have been given. Recently I was considering the story of the prophet Hosea. Hosea was a prophet who was commanded by God to make his very life into an example of God's relationship with Israel. Or to put it another way: God told Hosea to marry a prostitute to show Israel how they treated God. In this analogy, God is Hosea, and Israel is the prostitute.
Now, comparing Israel to a prostitute is kind of God's go to move in the Old Testament, as anyone who reads the Prophets already knows. The point, made over and over again, is that God loves Israel, but Israel doesn't love God. Israel is constantly betraying God, and God just keeps taking her back.
Hosea was a man, preaching to other men. So God used an example that would get male attention: a faithless wife. Even now, a cheating wife seems to be a man's biggest fear. But what if Hosea had been a woman? Would God have used the same analogy?
What if Hosea had been a woman, preaching to other women? What would a matriarchal society see as the most compelling, most painful example of God's tortured relationship to Israel?
The mother-child relationship.
God would have commanded the female version of Hosea to have children. Go ahead, have a child. Give that child everything she needs and wants. Feed her the best food. Put her in the best clothes. Give her everything she asks for. Teach her how to be a good person. And then, let her rebel. Let the child reject you.
As moms, we know better than anyone else just how unending our love for our children is. It doesn't matter what they do or say, we will love them. It doesn't matter how often they reject us, we will love them. It doesn't matter how often they leave us, we will love them.
So what if Hosea had been a woman? Then God would have told her: Have a child. Let the child reject you. And take her back.