Problems, Pain, and Propaganda (Hosea)

Monday, November 7, 2022


All of our gratitude to Mary for completing this transcript!

TFF 2022 HB Episode 34 Problems, Pain, & Propaganda (Hosea)

Channing: [00:00:00] Hi! I'm Channing.

Elise: And I'm Elise. 

Channing: And this is The Faithful Feminists Podcast. 

Elise: [00:00:12] We focus on feminist interpretations of scriptures and follow the LDS Come Follow Me manual as a guide for study. We understand scriptures can be a tricky endeavor for readers, but we also believe sacred texts contain compelling examples of loving and liberating relationships with The Divine, others, and ourselves. We hope you'll join us in exploring the problems and promises of sacred texts with imagination, critique, and celebration to reveal what we feel is the loving and liberating heart of scripture.

Channing: [00:00:41] While Mormonism, with its iconic floral foyer couches, is our background, we follow our faith and our God on the winding path of spirituality over institution, and connection over condemnation. We are fellow wanderers, weavers, and doubters. If you’ve found yourself feeling a little too faithful for some and not enough for others: Welcome. We've saved you a seat on the soft chairs. This podcast is funded by our listeners’ generous donations. If you'd like to support our work, connect with us on Patreon or on our website at

[00:01:23] Hi, friends. Welcome back to the podcast. For this episode, we will be covering the books of Hosea and Joel for the dates November 7th through the 13th. Before we get very far into the episode, we just wanna give a content warning for all of our listeners. In this episode we will be discussing themes of rape, assault, murder, domestic violence, and abuse.

So as always, please listen with care and take really, really good care of yourself. Pause or take a break or just wait until next week as needed. This will probably be a little bit of a heavier episode, so just engage as you are able.

So, like we always ask, the questions are: what is the book of Hosea and who is Hosea? And Elise is gonna catch me as much as she can, but I keep saying Isaiah. So if you get them confused also, you're in good company. Okay. So Hosea, the book of the Hosea was written in the eighth century BCE, so this predates some of the books that we've already read, especially the book Daniel. So we understand that the Nevi’im, the section that we're in right now, which is the writings of the minor prophets, does not go in chronological order. So we're kind of just jumping around everywhere. A little bit of background about the book itself. This comes from the Britannica Encyclopedia, and they write, “The text of Hosea is quite corrupt and contains difficult problems of interpretation. The book has a long history of formation [that's the process of how the story originated] and went through a lot of different versions to get to the version that we have now.” And the book also has “a long history of transmission,” and that means how the text was translated and then recorded. They continue saying, “Much of the material originated in oral form and goes back to Hosea himself. The collection of sayings and individual accounts, however, was probably done in Judah at a much later date.” So we can kind of understand the book of Hosea to be an amalgamation of a couple of versions of the same story that were either told orally or written down at a whole bunch of different dates. So we understand that with a text of that nature, there's gonna be quite a bit of inconsistencies and problems within the text, but we're excited to work with it and see what we can pull from there anyway.

The main characters that we see in this text are the characters of Hosea, who's a prophet, and Hosea's wife. Her name is Gomer. And this relationship that we see play out in the book of Hosea functions as a metaphor of God's relationship with Israel. So we wanted to point out and just mention Gomer right from the get go, right? She, and this information that we're about to share comes from the Jewish Women's Archive article written by Gale A. Yee. Yee tells us, “Gomer was the wife of the prophet Hosea. In some translations of the Hebrew Bible she's labeled as a prostitute, but more accurate translations tell us that she was actually promiscuous and had extramarital relations.” Yee writes, “Gomer and Hosea's relationship and ancient Israelite marriage shows how women were ostracized for extramarital sex while such behavior was tolerated, if not encouraged, in men, paralleling the relationship between Israel and God. Gomer is also never given the ability to speak for herself, but is rather shown as the victim of abuse from both Hosea and God as punishment for her promiscuity.”

Elise: [00:05:15] So we have these, kind of, three main characters, I don't know, four main characters. You have Hosea and Gomer, and then God and Israel. And these relationships are kind of muddled together because they're stand-in metaphors for one another. Now, the traditional interpretations of Hosea say that this is a story about love that's founded on forgiveness because look, God still loves and forgives. Other interpretations say that this story of Hosea is representative of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. On the flip side, common feminist interpretations and critiques of the book of Hosea's, some feminists interpret Gomer as a prostitute or representative of goddess worship, especially when paired with a sexual freedom that's often attributed with these worship practices. Other feminist critiques and interpretations show up to really point fingers at the pornographic kind of lens that we see happening in some of the scenes between God and Israel. And finally, surely there are strong critiques as there are really strong echoes of domestic violence in the first three chapters of Hosea. For example, in Hosea chapters one through three, we have this husband who threatens his wife because of her adulterous behavior. He wants to take harsh measurements against her, including stripping her naked and depriving her of all necessities of life. And guess what? This metaphor is supposed to be representative of God, the husband, his relationship with Israel, the wife, and going back to some of those traditional readings that focus on the unfaithfulness of Israel and the justice of her punishment and the love of God. In this week's Come Follow Me Manual, it says, “Israel's covenant with the Lord was meant to be so deep and meaningful that the Lord compared it to a marriage. This kind of devotion came with high expectations and tragic consequences for infidelity.” This is not the first book that we've come across that uses this marriage relationship or marriage metaphor to talk about God and Israel.

Channing: [00:07:16] Yeah. We saw it in Jeremiah, and we saw it in Ezekiel and we also saw it in Isaiah. So there's been plenty of textual examples leading up to this. And this is kind of like the pinnacle example that we see this relationship metaphor play out.

Elise: [00:07:37] And so some of the questions I was asking myself as I was reading through the chapters this week is Okay, I know this is a metaphor that I'm not super jazzed about, so what are the consequences or effects of this metaphor? And from what I can pull out, I think that this metaphor shows God to be really entitled and that God is entitled to loyalty and fidelity no matter what, regardless of how God behaves. Another consequence would be that in this story, men become so closely identified with God and godliness, which then places women to become this subservient group that's identified with the human realm as opposed to godliness. And then I think one of the most painful lines is the thread that goes throughout the story that women, because of their adulterous behavior or because of their sexuality, invite punishment because of this behavior. And then it formats women's sexuality as something evil. 

Channing: [00:08:35] Yeah. I think another issue that I take strongly with this text is we have a lot of celebration and a lot of love, especially in the LDS tradition for the story of Eve and especially with, you know, translations that have kind of come forth recently about Eve as the help-meet and kind of this more liberatory interpretation of what it means to truly be partnered in relationships. But then we come across texts like Hosea, where those more liberatory interpretations of relationships kind of fall apart because they've been so heavily overlaid with these themes of domination and sexism that are present even in our really intimate relationships. So yeah, this is just a tricky text just because it just totally throws a wrench in a lot of the rhetoric that we see around marriage relationships or idealized marriage relationships in the LDS tradition. I don't think that our rhetoric around that is perfect, but this one is especially striking. 

Elise: [00:09:46] And I know that you're gonna talk a little bit more about like the domestic violence side of this metaphor, but something that I came across that I thought was helpful when exploring the book of Isaiah was an article titled “Pornoprophetics Revisited: Some Additional Reflections” by Athalya Brenner. And in this article, Brenner argues that the book of Hosea acts as propaganda meant to persuade and sway the public's opinion through the use of stereotyping and name calling, exaggeration and half truths, promises, threats and generalization, in an attempt to promote this one dominant ideology of God as a single God of his people. Emphasis on God's ownership over and entitlement over a people. And I think that this is really important because Brenner encourages us to examine and expose the text to better understand what it's doing and how it's being used as a rhetorical device. And in this way, I think that we can expose and thus disarm the text.

And then after we expose and disarm, then we're called to examine, reject, or reimagine it as we feel called to. And because I'm in the heat of fall semester teaching, I was thinking like, “Hmm, how could I teach the book of Hosea to a communication class or to a class on persuasion?” And I think if I were to teach this text, I would encourage students to identify persuasive strategies that are used and then to evaluate the ethics of this text. We could ask ourselves, “How does the author develop their credibility? How and why does the reader come to trust the husband and God and why?” We could ask, “How does the author build their argument? How does the use of logic, reward and punishment, shape the message?” And then finally we could ask, “How does the author employ emotional language or really shocking imagery to provoke an emotional response from the reader?” And I'm thinking here of all the like sensationalized violence that's both physical and sexual. But in these ways, I think that as readers, one of our strategies can be to put a bit of distance between us and these potentially triggering texts by saying, “Hang on, let me disarm you and kind of pull you apart so I can see what you're doing and so that you don't just get to be a sneaky underhandedly persuasive text without my knowing it.” 

Channing: [00:12:13] Right, and or also like really big and scary and threatening and violent. Because then once you kind of understand the tactics that are employed to evoke a response in you, it completely disarms it of all its power. I really love those questions. Those are fantastic.

Kind of along similar lines, Brenner, the author of the article calls these moments pornographic representations because they act as fantasies of sexual desire, but are different from erotic fantasy because of the abuse and violence. Brenner writes, “The boundary is very clear. It is less the amount of flesh shown that bothers me than the manner with which it is treated in the representation. Since the image created depends on the how, as well as the what. When one of the imaged partners is almost always clothed, retains control, heaps abuse, threatens physical punishment, and the other is naked or threatened with nakedness, on view, not allowed to speak and is closely monitored, that is pornographic fantasy despite the declarations of love that are uttered. From this perspective the husband/wife metaphor is a pornographic fantasy of male desire.” 

Elise: [00:13:28] Whew. I mean, the feminist critiques really come through for the book of Hosea, and I'm really grateful for this critique and the understanding of this text as problematic, propaganda, and pornographic. Three Ps all at once. 

Channing: Three dangerous Ps.

Elise: Three dangerous Ps. 

[00:13:46] Channing: I love this pornoprophetic lens of Hosea and I think it's a really impactful and powerful way to study and look at the text. As we move forward and look specifically very closely at the first three chapters of the book of Hosea, we notice or it makes sense that a lot of feminist scholars have highlighted how problematic this metaphor is because it glorifies maleness and normalizes gender-based violence against women. Just like that quote that we had read a little bit earlier, we see some really specific and explicit examples of how this gender-based violence plays out in the text. For example, in chapter two verse three, we hear, “Lest I strip her naked and set her as in the day that she was born and make her as a wilderness and set her like a dry land and slay her with thirst.” In verse four we hear, “And I will not have mercy upon her children, for they be the children of whoredoms.”  And finally, in verse 10, “And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.” So that's kind of just a small taste of the treatment of the woman, Gomer, that we see in the book of Hosea. One article that we came across that had a really strong critique of the book of Hosea is titled, “Of God's Image, Violence Against Women and Feminist Reflections” written by Sidney K. Berman. The article starts out really strongly by simply stating, “This article asks why gender-based violence in Botswana has risen at an alarming rate amidst unprecedented growth of Christianity in the country.” Using examples from the patriarchal text of Hosea, Berman argues throughout the essay that the gender hierarchy and gender violence in the text of Hosea can act as an example and permission to enact violence against women in cultures where sexism is already present.

Elise: [00:15:54] So first, Berman begins by highlighting the fact that the most violence against women does not happen in context of assault by a stranger. But that “much research in Botswana reveals that most of the violence is meted out by men against their female partners, wives, cohabitating partners and girlfriends, leading to the conclusion that most violence against women occurs within domestic settings.”

Channing: [00:16:18] And just to be clear, that is also the case in the United States as well. Like that's not only specific to Botswana, right?

Elise: [00:16:25] Yeah. And so Berman continues highlighting the link between domestic violence and “passion killings,” which have increased in frequency since the early two thousands. Berman writes, “Whereas the home is supposed to be a safe haven for women. It has become a place of insecurity and uncertainty. Botswana has seen spats of murder/suicides wrongly labeled as passion killings, in which more than 90% of victims have been women since the epidemic starting around 2002. In these so-called passion killings, jealous boyfriends and husbands murder the women and then commit suicide after accusations of unfaithfulness. Therefore, considering the prominence of Christianity in the nation all along, we should honestly and critically examine the role of religion, religious beliefs, and teachings on heterosexual relationships.” 

Channing: [00:17:19] These facts that we're reading from the Berman essay are harrowing, but we know that for some readers it might be kind of difficult to link the domestic violence with what's happening in the biblical text of Hosea. And so luckily Berman speaks to this by directly linking the two together. Berman writes, “The marriage metaphor features threats of violence against Gomer. She could be stripped naked and slain with thirst. She could be hedged around so that she does not move and her vines could be destroyed. The text allows the man to beat Gomer to even expose her private parts and violate her sexually. The problem is that these actions are equated to God's actions as the husband to the wife Israel, who deserves discipline or punishment. Not only is God likened to the husband in the text, but in traditional biblical thought and its integration in today's cultures, God supposedly sanctions male headship and abhors equality.”

So in summary, Berman's essay links the real lived experience of domestic violence experienced by women in Botswana with both direct quotes and cultural interpretations of the book of Hosea. It's difficult to ignore the influence that this story and stories like it have on cultures that read texts like this as if they were dictated with the authority of divinity. One of the other really fascinating pieces of research that we came across was the illumination of a textual relationship between the book of Hosea and Judges chapter 19 through 21. This link was made apparent in the essay titled “Textual Problems in Amos and Hosea” by Andor Szabo. And this one is a fascinating read. It was written back in the 1970s, so it may be a little outdated, but the author does a really fantastic job of illuminating just how tricky this particular text is to translate and really format well as a story. And so if you're ever kind of like, “Wait a second, this story doesn't make sense,” this Szabo article should probably help you out a little bit. But Szabo writes, “In Hosea 10:9, it is generally accepted that there is a reference to Judges 19-21. We are not surprised that Hosea saw a resemblance between his law and the case of the Levite who was a stranger in Ephraim.”

So just in case you were unaware of the story in Judges 19-21, Judges 19 narrates the story of a Levite man who went to demand his concubine to return home to him after she had run away back to her father's house. And what happened was, on their return home a group of men came to the house that they were staying at wanting to rape the Levite man. Of course, the Levite man refused but in his stead, the husband offered up the concubine to be gang raped and assaulted. She was tortured the entire night, and in the morning the husband found her dead on the doorstep. He then severed her body into 12 different pieces and sent each piece to a different tribe of Israel, both as a warning and a call to action. If you're interested in more context and commentary on this portion of the text, we recommend listening to our episode titled “In Memory and Mystery” from May of this year, May 2022.

Elise: [00:20:45] In that episode, we shared that the story of the unnamed concubine in Judges 19 is considered to be what's called a text of terror, and this phrase was coined by Biblical scholar Phyllis Trible, and it's used to categorize stories of abuse, exploitation, and violence against women, which lack any sort of comforting resolution. Read well, texts of terror show us the failure of systems of power to both prevent violence against women and provide victims and survivors with justice. In fact, it is often systems like white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, homophobia that incite and perpetuate such violence. Trible reminds us that this story is contemporary. It's a modern story, and Trible writes, “Misogyny belongs to every age, including our own. Violence and vengeance are not just characters of distant pre-Christian past. They infect the community of the elect this day.”

I think this passage is so powerful for two reasons. One, because it links us up nicely with the Botswana article that you were talking about, Channing and how you were saying this is not just isolated to this one article or this one culture or group of people living in Botswana. This is a contemporary, modern story and I think that Trible is getting at here as well, and because of the link between Hosea and Judges 19, we think that we can confidently categorize the first three chapters of the Book of Hosea as a Text of Terror. 

Channing: [00:22:15] Yeah. And the Text of Terror is not a title or a categorization of text that we use lightly, right? A Text of Terror is like something so horrific that it has to have its own special category that basically has a bunch of caution signs all around it. Especially for readers of the text who are survivors of that particular type of violence or related type of violence. And also it's a big caution sign for anyone who's approaching this text because Texts of Terror have to be handled with so much care because of the harm that has been born out of that text historically, and the continued harm that still happens when we interpret the text with irresponsibility. So as we dig deeper into the Book of Hosea and examine it a little bit further, one of the things that we also wanted to do was look at the way that the text links the image of God with maleness and masculinity. This comes from the same Berman article titled “Of God's Image, Violence Against Women and Feminist Reflections.” 

Elise: [00:23:31] Berman writes, “The metaphor of the ruling man does injustice to the image of God by reducing divine mystery to a single description. The picture of the ruling man in the story becomes an idol being likened to and honored like God. In the Hosea metaphor, we deduce that the husband being on the side of God is of much greater worth and value than the wife who is on the side of Israel. Considering that Israel was primarily seen as the total opposite of all of the attributes that described God, Gomer becomes the total opposite of that which is divine. A husband is very close to the divine, according to the implications of the metaphor and the wife very far in the opposite direction. One can recall some attributes of God: holy, majestic, faithful, sovereign, all powerful and worthy of respect and worship. Attributes that are not associated with Israel. Considering Israel's humanity and evils Israel is accused of, the implication is that the husband in relation to his wife is holy, majestic, faithful, sovereign, all powerful and worthy of respect and worship. Yet who can worship God, if not the one who is not God? Woman.” We like this passage because we see Berman expanding really beautifully on what is often summarized by the well loved quote from Mary Daley, “If God is male, then male is God.” So Berman argues that the linking of masculinity with divinity elevates those who embody these particular types of traits and devalues those who do not have these particular types of traits.

Channing: [00:25:07] Absolutely. We also have another interpretation that comes from our favorite person, basically in the whole world, I think, Reverend Dr. Wil Gafney, and this comes from her sermon titled, “When Gomer Looks More Like God.” And what we appreciated about this article is two things. First, Gafney speaks directly to the dehumanizing language that's presented in the Book of Hosea, but then Gafney also offers a different interpretation of the person that she sees embodying more of the divine attributes happening in the book of Hosea.  

Elise: [00:25:45] So first, Gafney speaks directly to the dehumanizing language that's used in both the first book of Jeremiah and the book of Hosea, especially the word “whore.” Gafney illustrates the relevance of the text by reminding us that, “Every day some woman somewhere is being called a whore.” And I hope that we're getting echoes of like: this story matters. It spans across time and across place. And so Gafney deepens our understanding of the importance of language and metaphor by sharing that, “I sat with Jeremiah's rebuke to Israel where he says, “You have the forehead of a whore.” And understand that language is not just any metaphor, but rooted in a system that shames women whose sexuality it cannot control and elevates that shame as a horror by telling men that's what they are in God's sight.” In the article, Gafney models for us a reclamation of the word “whore” and allows us an opportunity to reinterpret words like whore and promiscuity by rooting them in the context of sexual freedom.

Channing: [00:26:50] Yes, I love the following quote that comes straight from her sermon. Like we always recommend just going and listening to what she has to say, because she does it always way better than us. But this is just a little snapshot of the like, passion and absolute genius of Dr. Reverend Wil Gafney. She writes, “My response to Jeremiah was to take the power back from that word following the example of Jesus who said, ‘You have seen it written, but I say unto you…’ You have seen it written, “You have the forehead of a whore”. Instead, I say unto you, you have the forehead of the kind of woman some men, especially religious men, like Hosea and Jeremiah will call a whore. You have the forehead of a woman who will make her own decisions about her body and sexuality. You have the forehead of a woman who will decide for herself whether or when to have children. You have the forehead of a woman who will not submit to male domination in or out of the church, in or out of the sacred text. You have the forehead of a woman who will resist theology and biblical interpretation that does not affirm who you are, who God created you to be. You have the forehead of a woman who men will call a whore to put you in your place. You have the forehead of a woman who is unbought and unbossed. You have the forehead of a woman who has survived rape and sexual assault and domestic violence. You have the forehead of a woman who has been blamed for the violence others visited upon your person and you brazenly rejected it. You are brazen in your womanishness. You brazenly talk back to the text and its God. You brazenly talk back to Jeremiah and say, ‘You can miss me with that whore talk’." 

Elise: [00:28:38] She's so good. So good. Oh my gosh. I'm like a far better person because of her. 

Channing: [00:28:46] Absolutely. Absolutely. And we really recommend going and reading this article. We will link it in the show notes because alongside this really powerful reclamation of the word whore, Gafney also presents a reading that reinterprets Gomer in the image of God, rather than God being in the image of Hosea by pulling examples from the text that showcase Gomer as a caring mother who remains beside her children through difficulty. Again, we're always amazed by Gafney's ability to wrestle with the text and like she says, “squeeze a blessing out of it.” And she has certainly done that here with this story. 

Elise: [00:29:24] One of the things we've been talking about is like, Okay, so now what? Now what do we do with this big problematic story? One of the things that we can do is we can refuse to brush it off as a metaphor with mere theological implications. In the book, “Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us” by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker. The authors write, “What happens when violent realities are transubstantiated into spiritual teachings? God becomes the sender of torture who injures us and then comforts us, a perverse love. The spiritualizing of suffering makes God the author of all pain, who uses pain to edify or purify human beings. It clouds the realities of human violence in a haze of spiritual glory.” Later they write,”God is not the one who mystifies or glorifies violence, but the witness who fully knows our anguish. Religion needs to foster a truer regard for life when it is disrupted by betrayal and violence. Perpetrators of violence lose their humanity and so do victims. Theology needs to tend to the healing of those whose lives have been fragmented by violence.” And with this lens, we question: who is the God who is speaking in this text? Did God speak in this text or is sexism and domination overlaid and interwoven into the book of Hosea by another source?

Channing: [00:30:53] Yeah. Those are really valuable questions, especially when we face pushback. This happens to us sometimes when we say, “Hey, here are the issues with this text.”

And people say, “Oh, it's just a Bible story,” or, “Oh, it's just a metaphor for God,” or, “Oh, it just means like we just need to look at it a little bit deeper and understand it in its context.” Like, Yes, and. Our theologies and our interpretations of the text have consequences. One of the things that I was talking about with Elise before we pressed record, I was listening to a class from Divinity School that talked about this text in particular and how difficult it was to hear some of the different interpretations that some of the students had offered during the discussion. And Elise, do you wanna share what you had said to me that I just loved so much?

Elise: [00:31:49] Oh yeah. We were just talking, Channing had asked like, “What do you do in class when students have ignorant interpretations or they're unwilling to see the more compassionate side of things, or maybe they're just in different places in their learning journey?” And I had said, “Sometimes you let the comment sit because you know that the students will kind of sort it out amongst themselves. You know, they'll raise their hands and share their experiences following up. But one of the things we talk about in class is that you're responsible for the consequences of your interpretation. So you have to be ready, right? You don't just get to kind of spout off your interpretation or your opinion without taking full responsibility for what that interpretation means for the people around you and the people with whom you share community.” 

Channing: [00:32:37] Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that's so important when we come up against texts like this to recognize that we are entitled to our opinions and we're entitled to our feelings around the text but that we're also responsible for the consequences that our interpretations have when we share those feelings and those opinions as well. So as we're kind of coming to the end of discussing the book of Hosea, we have some questions, right? We've talked about how the accuracy of this text maybe isn't totally a hundred percent great and substantiated, how the origin of the story isn't exactly what we think it is, and that there's a lot of violence in this text. And that in a lot of ways, for a lot of people can make this portion of the Hebrew Bible really suspect. And questions that we might walk away from this text are: is it even worth reading? Is it even worth discussing or including in the canon? And for anyone who's listened to the podcast for a long time, Elise and I usually always argue: Yes. We believe that it's still important to read, and here are a couple of our reasons. First, we can use the book of Hosea to create opportunities to discuss and bring awareness to issues such as domestic violence. Secondly, we can use the story to rewrite and examine our rhetoric about healthy relationships and forgiveness. Third, we can use the book of Hosea to honestly reevaluate our relationship with other people and root out themes of violence and domination that prevent us from a true connection and loving relationships. And finally we can use this text to push for and search out more helpful, inclusive, and life-giving examples of relationships with the divine. So we don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Hosea isn't necessarily a text that just isn't worth reading. It's just, it is worth reading with a lot of consciousness about what's going on in the text and what are the consequences of how we choose to use and discuss this text in our everyday lived experience right now. 

Elise: [00:34:51] Yeah, and I think earlier this year on the podcast, we said something like, “If we, in our church settings and in our community settings, talked about sexual assault and domestic violence and abuse as often as they actually appear in the text, we would be talking about it nonstop. Literally nonstop.” And so I think this is another example where I'm just, kind of, frustratedly disappointed with the way that the manual gets shaped and that the way that oftentimes the lessons will go. And I can imagine lessons on Sunday being just like, “But look, look at how loving and forgiving God was in spite of Israel or Gomer's sin and her deceit and her promiscuity, God still loved her. God still forgave her.” And I'm like, yeah, I don't know. And so as someone in 2022, I personally feel like this metaphor is too problematic to just dismiss, like to totally reject or to just ignore without first examining and exposing it to critique. And so I don't think that we get to jump ahead to God's love and God's forgiveness without first examining the metaphor that's being used to convey these things. Because this isn't a clear metaphor that only deals with love and forgiveness. This isn't, what did we read in the Book of Mormon? This isn't like Jacob, chapter five, The Parable of the Vineyard or something like that. This is a metaphor that also deals with violence, abuse, sexuality, power dynamics in marriage and gender-based discrimination. So as a feminist reader, all of those problematic things show up first in the metaphor, and I think to me they demand to be dealt with before I can move towards something that feels any bit like loving or forgiving from God. 

Channing: [00:36:43] Yeah, absolutely. And I also think too, one of the lessons that we've learned through reading the Hebrew Bible, and honestly like the Book of Mormon as well, is the idea that every single book and every single story is gonna have a happy ending. Like, I personally don't feel that the book of Hosea really has any type of, like, healthy ending relationship. Like I read the entire metaphor and the entire relationship as a very abusive relationship, right? Like God still gets to enact the violence and then maybe God's feeling guilty afterwards and showers the love and forgiveness on Gomer, but that doesn't erase what happened in the first three chapters. And so I think sometimes it's tempting to look at the book alone and kind of isolate it and say, “Well, it doesn't have a guaranteed happy ending, so I'm not gonna look at it.” But to remember that the Hebrew Bible and pretty much all of the sacred texts that we've covered on the podcast, they are human diaries. They are like little essays and poems and journal entries that are written by humans. And so we do have the opportunity, just like you said, Elise, to go through and critique these. Right? It doesn't take away from the divinity of other places that we encounter God in the text to have to sit with and critique and examine the book of Hosea. And I think the hope is that there are other portions of the text that can meet us in the difficulty of Hosea and offer that balm that I think we really need after a text like this. 

Elise: [00:38:28] Yeah. And like critiquing systems of oppression, domestic violence, abuse, abuse within marriage, those are all divine godly things, even if the critique feels uncomfortable to people who have power and experience a lot of privilege. 

Channing: [00:38:45] Right. Yeah. Like, the critique and the movements toward justice and liberation, that is love. Yes. Period. Yes. End of sentence. 

Elise: [00:38:55] Yes. So thanks everyone. Thanks for joining us this week as we explore the book of Hosea, and we're excited to be with you again next week. There's only a few more weeks left of this year. So we're excited to wrap up the Hebrew Bible together. We love you so much. We'll talk to you then. Bye! 

Friends, thank you so much for joining us today for another episode of The Faithful Feminists Podcast. We know your time and space is sacred, and we are so grateful to have spent ours with you. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd be so happy if you left us a loving rating on iTunes and Spotify so other seekers can find.

Channing: [00:39:35] Financial donations support the many hours of research, work, and devotion to each episode, as well as the everyday cost of creating and publishing the podcast. You can support us on Patreon or through a simple Venmo donation and help us create a world where creators, artists, activists, and beauty makers are valued and paid for their labor. Find us on those platforms and on Instagram as TheFaithfulFeminists. We are deeply grateful for your kindness and encouragement. We love you so much, and we hope to spend more time with you again soon. Bye Friends!

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