The Gender of God

“Our Father” or “Lord”; aren’t these the pronouns that we are so used to hearing and saying ourselves while referring to God?

So doesn’t it infer that God is a male?

But then God is not a created being, and hence should not have a gender.

Doesn’t using male pronouns and other distinctly “male” words, like “Lord” or “Father”, reflect not God’s nature, but our own patriarchal mindset?

Yes, definitely, we need pronouns. Without them, our language will be incredibly clunky and awkward. To talk about how God reveals “God’s Self” to show us “God’s Love” might be politically correct, but it’s also a poor usage of the English language.

But then why say “His Self” and “His Love” and why not “Her Self” and “Her Love”?

Perhaps, specifically using male pronouns for God is convenient and widely agreed upon linguistic convention, with Biblical roots.

So we need to blame it on the patriarchy when we talk about Him. Male pronouns for God, better or worse, have become part of our language and culture. And let us be honest, the Bible uses male language. 

Using female pronouns for God is definitely distracting, and talking about Mother God is probably the fastest way to derail almost any group prayer, by triggering either laughter or confusion.

Political Correctness (PC): a term used to refer to language that seems intended to give the least amount of offense, especially when describing groups identified by external markers such as race, gender, culture, or sexual orientation.

When God reveals Himself, He does so as Father and Son (and Holy Spirit).

In our PC culture, if we need to know a person’s pronoun, we ask, or at least wait for the person to tell us.

In the Bible, when God reveals Himself, He does so as Father and Son, not Mother and Daughter.

Perhaps, the Son (the second person of the Trinity) had to come as “Son” and not “Daughter” because of Israel’s patriarchal norms and not because of any deeper spiritual reality.

In other words, does it mean that if Jesus was a woman, nobody would have taken him seriously?

But the ancient world was full of religions that took female goddesses seriously.

Besides, that argument only accounts for one person of the Trinity.

In the Bible, Jesus frequently referred to the first person of the Trinity as “Father”. After Jesus had earned respect, he could have talked about God as “Mother”, but he preferred to use the term “Abba”, or “Dad”. 

Is there any real spiritual significance associated with using male language to describe God? 

At various points in the Bible, there are feminine images of God. That’s true. But when those images come up, they always reveal some deeper, spiritual meaning. The same is true for using primarily male language for God.

Should we not use male pronouns for God, because God doesn’t have a gender?

To describe God as “He” would be to anthropomorphize God, or turn “Him” into a being with human characteristics.

Confronted with this confusing dilemma, we might be tempted to give up altogether on trying to say anything about God. But theologians and philosophers have argued that we can speak about God analogously.

Then there are those people too, who advocate for gender-neutral or feminine God language for political and ideological reasons, and less because they have a legitimate theological argument.

I leave this discussion with an open thought for everyone.

What would be better?

To conform God to a gender-neutral identity to suit our theological, ideological or political agenda;

Or to conform “Him” to the present widely accepted linguistic constructs?

 

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2 thoughts on “The Gender of God

  • I remember a friend who argued with us that God is indeed a mother. We laughed it off and I believe that was wrong on our part. There is no set agenda. We believe what we are taught that God is our Father. But the importance of adding a pronoun does make sense.
    But in all honesty, it will be difficult to get everyone to understand. Religion is a topic that is always touchy for the traditional and modern public!

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