When a friend responded to one of my posts on social media, “What if God is a ‘she’ and not a ‘he’?” I decided to write this blog.
Pronouns assigned to God has traditionally been masculine, perhaps drawn in the same vein of patriarchal language used in older societies. Books, laws, national anthems use the masculine gender for inclusivity. The term “man” covered men, women, boys and girls. It could be argued that the masculine gender is word-efficient and makes for easier reading (or singing).
God is a spirit as declared in the Bible in John 4:24. Merriam Webster dictionary defines spirit as “a supernatural being or essence.” This is non-physical, and as such, gender cannot be ascribed to spirits. Yet gender helps us understand the abstract concept of spirit. We have to refer to God as something and one cannot altogether avoid using pronouns in smooth conversation or writing. The gender “it” that is used to denote gender neutrality seems demeaning as a reference for God. Perhaps if there had been neuter gender, male gender, female gender and spirit gender, the confusion would have never arisen.
Our natural minds cannot conceptualize the supernatural in its entirety. Our vocabulary do not contain words for the “Spirit gender”, so at best, we describe spirit as He, in terms that are concrete as they help us understand what is abstract. Spiritual “eyes” are what’s needed to see God in His spiritual capacity.
In the Old Testament, God appeared as men to Abraham (Genesis 18). John 4:24 states, “God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” (Note the word “him”.) Three times in the New Testament Jesus refers to God as Father, as maleness. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology identifies over 165 references to God as Father in direct and metaphorical references.
The Bible is the lens through which I interpret God. The Bible is God’s inspired word and it uses masculine pronouns and words in describing God. This helps me understand the “person” of God but at the end of the day, God is a Spirit whom I refer to as He.
On hot topics like God’s gender, people can’t be told anything if they’ve already made up their minds. I am not offended if someone refers to God as anything but male. Instead, I am happy they’re thinking of God, for to be open to God means He can yet reveal Himself and help them secure Eternity.
Susan Harris has been touched by Eternity and desires that all will inherit it.