Does God have a gender? Traditionally God has always been described with masculine pronouns. God is referred to as “Father”. “He” is used to address God in the Bible. So is the use of masculine pronouns required, or is it just a byproduct of the patriarchal society that wrote the Bible?
Is This For Real?
It’s becoming increasingly popular in Christian circles to deny or change the pronouns used to describe God. Several Bible translations have even begun using terms like “Mother, Child and Womb” to describe the Trinity. Gender neural Bibles are being used increasingly in congregations. So how important is this? Does God have a gender?
God Transcends Gender
The first point we need to make in addressing this question is that God actually transcends gender. We are told in Genesis that God created man in His image (Gen 1:27). “Man” refers to mankind, not just men. Therefore, both men and women were created in God’s image. God accordingly has both aspects of Gender in his make-up.
And while God is referred to traditionally using male pronouns, he is also referred to as a “Mother” (Isaiah 49:14-15, 66:13). God is called a “Midwife” in Isaiah 66:9. The Bible also refers to God’s judgement of Israel as like a mother bear losing her cubs is Hosea 13:8. So both male and female aspects of God’s nature are represented in the Bible.
Did Men Assign God’s Gender?
Now, what of the charge that the only reason we use the masculine pronouns is due to the Bible being written in a patriarchal society? This charge fails to take into account that the Bible was divinely inspired. While the authors of the Bible were using their own language and writing skills, they were writing under inspiration. God could have chosen to use whichever gender He wanted the writers to describe Him with. He chose to use male pronouns.
Our society is rapidly changing its view and definition of gender. There is a strong desire to bring God into the fold and make Him conform to our definitions and desired views on the question of gender. I saw a meme recently that made the point “everyone is allowed to choose their own gender except God”.
When we seek to create a Bible translation, the goal ought to be to accuracy and clarity. If we can make a change that accurately reflects the meaning of the text (like using mankind in place of “man”), I think it is appropriate. The change accurately reflects what is being conveyed in the original text.
But we shouldn’t change pronouns to meet our expectations. We shouldn’t change a message that God wants to convey about His nature simply to conform to our societal expectations. We above all need to be faithful to God and His word. This means respecting the way He reveals Himself to us, even if it doesn’t meet our desires.
Have you ever run across someone that refused to use God’s masculine pronouns? How did you respond?
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