Is God Male?

Is God Male?

Is God male in some way? Many Christians think that he is. But how could God be male when God is pure spirit? God has no male sexual organs and he has no testosterone. Because God does not have a body, it is impossible for him to be structurally male. Therefore in his essence God is neither male nor female.

But some would argue that God is male in his characteristics. If that were true, then God would only describe himself in purely male characteristics. But that just isn’t so. Although God describes himself with many male characteristics, he also describes himself with female characteristics. God describes himself as a mother in Isaiah 66:13 and as a nursing mother in Numbers 11:12. God’s motherly characteristics are highlighted in scripture as well as his fatherly characteristics. God is described with both male and female characteristics therefore God is not uniquely male because of his characteristics.

So why is God always referred to with the male terms of “he” and “Father” and never “she” or “Mother”? It is because God has chosen a relationship with us as Father. It is with this relationship that God shows us his nature and his love. God is the source of all things. As source he is referred to as Father. Ephesians 3:14, 15 says:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Every family in heaven and on earth derives its name from the Father. The word family in Greek is “patria” and it is a feminine noun meaning family or lineage running back to some progenitor. God is that progenitor. 1 Corinthians 11:12 says:

For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.

God is the source and originator and progenitor and as progenitor he is called Father.

The man was also created first to be the source of the woman. Adam then became the source or foundation for the woman. But God did not keep the preeminence with the male alone. He then made the woman to bring forth every other man. The woman then became preeminent as the source of the male. God has brought equality to both the male and the female by allowing each one to be the source of the other, yet ultimately the preeminent source must be honored as Father – the progenitor of every family.

Scripture shows that God is not male, but he has chosen to call himself Father because he is the ultimate source. When we honor him as Father, we do not honor him as male, but we honor him as our source.

20 thoughts on “Is God Male?

  1. Gidday Cheryl,

    I completely agree with what you have written above. However i know a number of people who really struggle with ‘not’ believing God is indeed male. One of them wrote his thesis on the fact that God is male and consequently the offices of the church should be held by men alone… Certainly those who believe that God is male tend to go hand in hand with those who believe in restricting women’s roles in the church.

    this gentleman claimed that only ‘similies’ (God is ‘like’… a mother etc) are used to state God has feminine ‘qualities’ in the Bible, whereas metaphors (God “IS” our Father) means that he is indeed male and not female! (incredible, i know!) I have some thoughts on how such a statement can be debated/refuted, but what are your commments?

    In Christ
    Kerryn

  2. To claim that God is male is idolatrous. Why? Because it would be making God in our image and bringing God down to our level is idolatrous. While God is not male, he can choose to relate to us as a Father relates to his children. Relationship must have a point of relating. That means that God as our Father must of necessity be “Father” in the realm of relationship and only relationship. God is our source and our ever present help and our caregiver. These are only a few ways in which he fathers us. To put “Father” in any other realm (such as God’s character or His essence) is to bring God down to our level.

    You are right in that those who wish to stop women from ministering in the body of Christ often see God as male. If God is male then somehow males represent him more accurately than females do. If this were so, then how could men and women be equals? They couldn’t. We are told that men and women are equal in God’s eyes, not men’s eyes. But that wouldn’t follow. If men are the only ones to truly represent God because God is male, then females aren’t equal in God’s eyes either.

  3. Amen.
    God is also “bread”, a “door”, a “light”, a “vine”.
    yet no one takes those metaphors to their full ‘literal’ degree. Sarah Sumner makes some good points on the way in which we should/shoud not understand the use of metaphors/similies in the Scriptures in her book “Men and Women in the Church.
    Still – it’s a major ‘sticking point’ for many complementarians that they just ‘cant’ see past!

    if women, as the scriptures clearly say, is indeed made in the image of God (Gen 1:26) then how can God be ‘only’ male. although God is not a reflection of ‘me’ as a human, i am a (partial/imperfect) reflection of him. i think the problem, as you mention is that we try to constantly bring God ‘down’ to fit into our little ‘boxes’ so we can understand him. yet this is indeed idolatry. michael kruse makes some good comments that are relevant on his blog…. (dec 18th 2006 http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2006/12/male_and_female.html. he quotes Francis Schaffer regarding what it is that differentiates us as being made in the image of God… Gender – since the animals and even some plant life etc have gender is certainly not in itself something that distinquishes as as being made in the image of God. So how can some make such a big deal out of God being supposedly “male”?

    it’s just so illogical and unbiblical to say that God is ‘male’ (and ‘not female’). it literally pierces my spirit. it frustrates me that it’s not ‘obvious’ to everyone that such claims are totally flawed! may God give us (me!) patience and love while we learn to handle the Sword of Truth to cut through the millenia of patriarchal bias around us.

    (-:
    kerryn

  4. Greetings in the Sweet name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

    I agree that God does not have a gender. And then again, when he walked the earth as 100% man and 100% God he had a gender, the male gender.

    In His joy,
    Martin Willemoes Hansen

  5. Kerryn, thanks for your comments and the link!

    Martin, you are exactly right. Jesus became a man and he became a male even though God is not male. He had to become male because of the sin of the first man. Jesus was the second Adam not the second Eve.

  6. Let’s assume for just one moment that God is indeed male. In the same space we’ll even say that he bears
    an uncanny resemblance to Gandalf the White. Do these
    two conditions in and of themselves cogently argue
    for the centuries old proscription concerning women
    in ministry? Not any more than “Dominion” and “Manifest Destiny” are valid endorsements for the
    wholesale rape and plunder of the Earth. What’s my
    point? Simply this , God is sovereign and will do as
    He sees fit. To say that He cannot raise up brilliant
    women to teach His word is pure hubris…
    Respectfully,
    H.

  7. H,

    I agree that God is indeed sovereign and I don’t think anyone of us dare tell him what he can and can’t do especially regarding the gifts that he gives to individual members of the body of Christ. If we loved each other as he asked us to love, then we would rejoice when another member is honored and used for God’s purpose.

  8. Dear Cheryl: I have just encountered your magnificent work on WIM, and I am completely sympathetic (as a Calvinistic Baptist ordained by one of their SBC churches in 1979). I also wrote a chapter in InterVarsity’s Discovering Biblical Equality (IVP, 2005) on this nonsense about God being male. Your DVD set will help a lot of puzzled people get this issue straight in their own minds. There is so much confusing speculation on the topic, and not enough serious consideration of the actual logical possibilities of the relevant texts. The reason so many Pastors don’t make any effort to answer you is because they can’t. You’re right and they’re wrong. The Bible trumps Holy Tradition every time….. Love, Bob.

  9. Thank you Pastor Bob for that encouraging word! Amen, amen, the Bible trumps Holy Tradition every time. Let God be found true though every man a liar. (Romans 3:4).

  10. I agree with you. Here is my understanding.

    1. God is so far beyond us that we cannot comprehend. We are finite and God is not finite. In order to allow us to even begin to understand aspects of God, God will use similes and metaphors, else we would be mostly clueless about God.
    2. As far as I can figure out, the only description of God that may not be a simile or metaphor is that God is “Holy, Holy, Holy”.
    3. The OT has some references to God as “our Father”. Jesus went even further with “my Father” and “abba”.
    4. The OT also says that God has breasts and a womb, but I cannot find where God is said to have male genitals.
    5. My conclusion is that God incorporates aspects of both genders. That is, God is not gendered, God created gender and one reason to do so was to show us aspects of God.

  11. Good thoughts, Don. I never considered before the thought that God never talks in metaphors about male genitals. Interesting.

    I do think that he created gender to show aspects of who he is and I also think it was to have a way for us to have “oneness” with another person. There is that mystery about Christ and the church that is expressed in gender and oneness.

  12. I read this article on Is God Male? I posted two comments on this article. It is long so I’m only posting what I commented on, ok!

    1. Spirits—because they are non-corporeal beings—have no physical body and thus by definition are incapable of possessing gender. In speaking of the humans who one day will inhabit the heavenly realm, Jesus remarked that they “neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as angels” (Matthew 22:30). His point was that we shall not take up our earthly gender roles in heaven, just as the angels, as spirit beings, have played no gender roles throughout their existence. Similarly, God, as a Spirit Being Who inhabits the heavenly realm, has no gender.

    (My comment on this statement:) There are no gender Roles/ a good book to read is Beyond Sex Roles, God is not a respecter of persons etc. The HOLY SPIRIT fell on all Acts 2.

    The Angels I don’t think are sexless, we know they can take on male human form from scripture! Also that demon or demons apparition of Mary, is an evil spirit/s pretending to be Mary…a woman! so they can “appear” female in a spirit/ghostly like sense. There are things about the angels we don’t know. But we do know that they are all single, not given in marriage! We don’t lose our gender in heaven because we our in God’s image Man (Male & Female). “Like the angels” not we are angels or will become angels!

    2. Why, then, if God has no gender, do the Scriptures refer to Him via masculine names and metaphors? And must we refer to Him via masculine names and metaphors?
    The answer to the first question has to do with both history and authority. From a historical standpoint, the fact is that every known ancient religion—except one—posited both gods and goddesses as beings worthy of worship. The lone exception was Judaism. Kreeft and Tacelli, in their Handbook of Christian Apologetics, addressed this matter when they wrote:

    The Jewish revelation was distinctive in its exclusively masculine pronoun because it was distinctive in its theology of the divine transcendence. That seems to be the main point of the masculine imagery. As a man comes into a woman from without to make her pregnant, so God creates the universe from without rather than birthing it from within and impregnates our souls with grace or supernatural life from without. As a woman cannot impregnate herself, so the universe cannot create itself, nor can the soul redeem itself. Surely there is an inherent connection between these two radically distinctive features of the…biblical religions…: their unique view of a transcendent God creating nature out of nothing and their refusal to call God “she” despite the fact that Scripture ascribes to him feminine attributes like compassionate nursing (Is. 49:15), motherly comfort (Is. 66:13) and carrying an infant (Is. 46:3). The masculine pronoun safeguards (1) the transcendence of God against the illusion that nature is born from God as a mother rather than created and (2) the grace of God against the illusion that we can somehow save ourselves—two illusions ubiquitous and inevitable in the history of religion (1994, p. 98, emp. in orig.).

    (My Comment on this statement:)This is very helpful. God uses He/Father so noone can say God birthed himself or He had a beginning,because God has no beginning or end! The Goddess cults & gonostic’s were teaching strange stuff Myths etc. Just Read the books of Tim..

  13. We do see God using Female imagery like breast & womb to show different aspects of himself etc. Also female imagery for the church of all believers as well (male & female)…The Bride Of Christ!

  14. Hi Cheryl,

    I have a quick question! When God made the Woman from Adam’s side did he have to breath into her the breath of life to make her a living soul or did she get life from Adam meaning once her body was made it just came alive like a newborn baby? Please shine some light on this Cheryl!

    I know in Genesis cha 1 he created them male and female. Does that imply breathing live into each one?

  15. Adam is the name for both the man and the woman, Gen 5:2.
    The word indicating a male man is not used until the woman is formed.

  16. Also, Adam means human or groundling, or earthperson, etc. with a wordplay as Adam is derived from Adamah, dirt or ground.

  17. Michael,

    Genesis chapter 1 shows that God created man and then breathed into him.  As Don points out “man” refers to both male and female so we should be able to understand that God created both the man and the woman in the same direct way.  The only difference was the material that he used to create them from.  The man was created from the dirt and the woman was created from the side part of the man.  The dirt isn’t what made man in the image of God, neither is the side the part that made the woman the image of God.  Both were created directly.

    Being created from the dirt did not make the male inferior neither did being created from man (in his image) and in the image of God would have made the woman superior.  No, they were created equally in God’s image and woman does not have a derivative image of God.  Chapter 1 nails that for us.

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