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Does God Have a Gender?

The sexual revolution has been raging in America for some sixty years, resulting in ethical outcomes that carry significant consequences. This uprising has challenged even the most sacred community norms. Now, with the new gender-identity insanity twisting our collective cultural conscience, I was not surprised to field this question from an email correspondence – does God have a gender? This subject has surfaced any number of times through my years of ministry, but has become more incendiary in the recent past. Taking its cue from crumbling societal norms, contemporary theology is now questioning the manner in which God is identified. Feminist biblical revisionism is making significant inroads throughout major regions of Christendom as the personal pronouns used to identify God are being altered. Some contend the pronouns used in describing God is a trivial matter and carries no real substantive doctrinal problems. This argument seems to be problematic, if not odious.

A group from the Church of England is calling for services to address God as “she” as well as “he.” The United Methodist Church has already introduced a new service book which refers to God as “our father and our mother.” The Episcopal Church in America recently revised its 1979 prayer book to reflect gender-neutral pronouns for God. A popular movie in Christian circles, The Shack, depicts two persons of the godhead as women. Even Judaism in America has been influenced by this movement. Two women published a version of the prayer book Siddur Nashim, which uses female pronouns and images for God.

There are certain facts about this topic that become immediately clear when studying the Scriptures. John 4:24 states, “God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in Spirit and in Truth.” Since God is a spiritual being, He does not have physical human features. God has no biological sex as He is not a material being. He has no genes, yet the Bible is not ambiguous concerning how He is to be identified.

It is vital to understand the Bible is God-breathed. Accordingly, the words used to describe God are His own. The Holy Bible invariably uses masculine imagery when speaking about God. Scripture always uses male pronouns – “He”, “Him”, “His” when referring to God. The Lord is never referred to as “she” or “it.” God chose to represent Himself using male pronouns for decisive reasons. Masculine metaphors used in the Bible describe Him as guardian, protector, provider, and much more. It should also be noted that God showed Himself as male is His many physical appearances found in the Bible. In the pages of the Old Testament, God appeared in male human form, known as theophanies or Christophanies (Genesis 18:1-3, 22, ; Joshua 5:13–15).

It is important to remember God is repeatedly identified as “Father.” God is referred to as “Father” nearly 170 times in the Bible, Jesus taught His disciples to address God as “our Heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:48). On other occasions, Christ used masculine pronouns in reference to God. The New Testament Epistles record almost 900 passages where the masculine noun in the Greek is used for God – theos.

The ultimate disclosure of God is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to this earth as a man. The reality of Jesus’ maleness is not theologically benign, nor unimportant - quite the contrary. It was done of necessity. The reason for His maleness was so that He might stand as “the last Adam” (I Corinthians 15:45), which would position Him as head over a new and redeemed people (cf. Romans 5:12–19). Just as the first Adam is head over a fallen humanity experiencing condemnation, judgment and ultimately death (I Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18), even so, Jesus as the second and “last Adam”, renders justification from sin and the expectation of eternal life for converted humanity (Romans 5:19; I Corinthians 15:22–23). Because it was a man who brought sin and death into the world initially, of obligation, a man was likewise required to reverse the course of destruction. The New Testament affirms this truth when the Son of God (Jesus) is presented as male in both His pre- and post-resurrection body (Luke 2:7, 42; 3:23; 24:36, 51). This information indicates that Christ will eternally remain in the form of a male.

With the following information stated, it is important to recognize that male and females stand equal before God. No gender is superior to the other. Feminine images are incorporated repeatedly in Scripture to describe different aspects of God's nature. His compassionate and loving nature are one such example. The Lord is viewed as defending and encouraging His children (Isaiah 66:12–13; Hosea 11:1–4). God is likened to a woman in labor (Isaiah 42:14), a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15), a comforting mother (Isaiah 66:13), or as a mother bear (Hosea 13:8). But it's important to note that God is never addressed as Mother. Metaphors describe certain personality traits, but are not used when addressing a person specifically.

Most ancient Near Eastern cultures had a goddess as the primary cult figure, or no less than an accompaniment for male gods -Asherah in Canaan, Isis in Egypt, Tiamat in Babylon. Many argue that a patriarchal society is responsible for portraying God as male, specifically in the Bible, but this doesn’t reason. God’s masculine identification is not the result of Scripture being written in a patriarchal culture. Cultural mores don’t dictate Christian theology. Goddess worship reflecting a matriarchal society was rife in the Roman and Grecian mentality. Even today, many societies devoted to goddess worship remain oppressive toward women. Despite this reality, God was still identified with maleness.

John Calvin insightfully observed that the knowledge of ourselves and our knowledge of God affect each other. There is an undoubted correlation between the “gender” of God, and the new societal demand that individual gender be determined by the person and not biology. Such reasoning is birthed in a wholesale rejection of divine sovereignty, and total biblical ignorance. It is mankind trying to play God, a role for which he or she is not qualified. Attempting to draw a comparison between the human genome and the eternal God staggers and falls in the fog of utter ignorance.

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