On Labor Day, think about the biblical image of God as a woman in labor

Monday, Sept. 2, 2013

God, like a woman long in labor, cries”—a hymn from Jann Aldredge-Clanton
Jann Aldredge-Clanton reminds us of a passage in Isaiah 42 where God is depicted as a woman in labor. In a blog post on her website, Jann explains the significance of this imagery and its message for us, and includes the hymn she wrote about it.  She writes, “The prophet Isaiah pictures God crying out ‘like a woman in labor’ over injustices: ‘For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant’ (vs. 14).”  She goes on to point out that “Whether or not we have experienced the labor of childbirth, we all labor and often suffer as we labor. Sometimes we suffer because our labor for justice seems in vain. Sometimes our work is rejected, demeaned, trivialized, discounted, criticized. This picture of Deity as a woman suffering in Her labor can encourage and strengthen us with the assurance that our labor takes part in God’s labor, and Her labor takes part in ours.”

Jann names some of the kinds of labor God calls us to do—“labor for economic justice, racial justice, gender justice, care of creation, and peace.”  She assures us that God is laboring with us.  Some of you will have already heard this hymn from Jann, but even if you have, you might want to take some time to listen to it again. You can watch the embedded video on Jann’s post or you can view it on YouTube.  Jann Aldredge-Clanton is an active member of EEWC and serves on our executive council, in addition to her busy life as a minister, author, teacher, speaker, and chaplain.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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