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God’s Gender Revisited

August 12, 2005

Brandon at his blog “Bad Christian”, who posts questions often, posed this one: Is God a Woman?

Here are some of his comments that followed:

Honestly, I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t think that God can be characterized as either male or female. I tend to think, though, that with reference to gender–rather than sex–God can be characterized as BOTH masculine and feminine.

I simply can’t understand, if as most people assert that God (the Father/Mother) is neither (or both…whatever) male or female, why would we ONLY apply the masculine pronoun when we refer to God. Actually, that’s not true. I do understand, I think.

It’s my contention that cultural tradition has dictated the use of the masculine to add value to things and the use of the feminine to detract value (or status) from things. That is, by calling God (the Father/Mother) ‘He’, ‘His’, or ‘Him’ we–because male is ‘good’–add value to God. Frankly, I find this value adding bit to be nothing more than bullshit. There’s nothing inherently better about being a man than a woman.

Let me add my two cents worth to this question.

First of all,

Who conceived of us as male and female? God could have created us as asexual reproducers, thus making us all the same sex. But God didn’t do it that way. I believe that maleness and femaleness express different aspects of the vastness of who God is. But is that all? I believe God is also Angelic, he is also Elderic (remember those guys in Revelation who always throw their crowns all over the place) and God is Seraphimic and Cherubimic and Martian and Venusian and any other place there might be/could be/must be other beings. If you add up all the different aspects, will we come close to seeing the fullness of God’s image? How limiting to see God as male or female…or as male/female. How many more genders could God create?

Second,

Is the masculine shorthand we have added for God playable any more? Some would argue that both in Hebrew and Greek God’s pronouns are all masculine. That argument however falls short when we speak of Holy Spirit. In Greek, Holy Spirit is neuter…defined as neither male or female. We don’t see Holy Spirit as less God than Father or Son, so what do we make of that? The King James Version makes the mistake of using the pronoun “it” to describe the Spirit. Are we to understand then that a personal member of the Godhead is only an impersonal force (if so, then let’s exalt George Lucas as a visionary Theologian). Let’s be clear on one thing. In most languages, gender is rarely an absolute designation of a thing or person’s sex. There are many things that are masculine in gender in Greek and just as many that are feminine. It is just the way they developed.

Perhaps the hardest things to overcome are the names “Father” and “Son” in describing members of the Trinity. Yet these are New Testament designations, since the delineation of Father and Son requires that we understand there is a relationship. Yes, there is mention of the plurality of God in Genesis 1:26 (ie. “Let us make man in OUR image) and in a number of other places. But the relationship is not explicitely detailed until Jesus’ baptism. Obviously Jesus had to be one sex…a Jesus with ambiguous sexual identity would not have played well on the stage of life. No, the designation of Father and Son is not a designation of sexual identity but rather a description of relationship.

I think my conclusion is that any significance of God’s sex is lost in the wonder of the totality of who God is, and who we will discover God to be in the ages to come.

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4 comments

  1. Does that mean we can call God “she” then?


  2. I think that is up to the individual. Personally, it is hard for this “old man” to think about changing my pronouns. And I have to admit that when someone else around me does I get that twinge of mind that it sounds strange. But I doubt that God cares either way.


  3. Finally read this (was feeling SO short on attention span yesterday) — and I think you captured it well.

    God is all-encompassing, but we don’t have neutral pronouns that refer to people (the closest beings in our experience to God, who’s so much more)…so yeah, it’s easy to think of God as just “he.”

    I do find, though, that if I think “she” every once in a while, it’s interesting to watch how my perception of God shifts.


  4. Hi everyone,
    I can’t reproduce the whole thing here, but I do have some views on the gender of God. You may want to visit my web site at: http://kenrockwell.blogspot.com/

    The information is listed in the ARTICLES section in the left column.

    Have a good day, keep studying.

    Ken



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