Opinions on faith and life

Is God Male?

2008-09-07

It absolutely pains me to have to write a post with that title, seeing as how the answer should be obvious to anyone familiar with any significant amount of scripture. For example,

Yet the myth persists that God simply must be male. After all, only masculine pronouns are used for God, right?

Wrong. Since God is a Trinity and all the Persons are of the same substance, then whatever gender of pronoun scripture uses must describe all of God. Of course, keep in mind that grammatical gender has no relationship whatsoever to biological gender; only English does not keep them separate.

A case in point: in the Hebrew scriptures, the pronoun for the Spirit is female; in Greek, it’s neuter. Yet in English the pronouns are always translated as masculine, partly because of the lack of grammatical gender, and we have no proper neuter pronouns.

Yet somehow, in spite of what scripture actually says, masculinity is purported to be the ideal and even divine state. Again I have the unpleasant duty of exposing this bias in an otherwise good blog, Herescope. Here are some excerpts from More than metaphor, Part 3: The Consequence of Role-Reversals, with my comments interspersed.

They begin with a badly translated passage of scripture which I discussed in Leading Women, Isaiah 3:12. This is widely held to equate female leadership with God’s displeasure with a nation. Never mind that it’s the only verse that remotely can be construed as such, even in English; they make this the cornerstone of their bias. This is what Herescope concludes as a result:

As a result, the stability of their social structure, as Isaiah communicated, lay in shambles.
This lone verse is held to prove that female leadership is evidence of a society in shambles-- and it’s all from made-up words that God never even said. The only social orders God instituted were state government and marriage, and he never said anything about a ruling class based upon sex.

Next they express fear that if men don’t rule over women there will be social chaos! I kid you not:

If God, in the governance of family and church, doesn’t rule, and consequently and correspondingly neither do the men, then the women and children will.
What a horrid thought, that women might rule! Yes, slippery slope; there is no space difference allowed between God ruling (which no Christian would deny), and men ruling. To deny the latter is, in their mind, to deny the former. And then of course they trot out 1 Cor. 11:3 and presume that head of means exactly the same as boss over. Amazing.
There can be no relationship where there is no responsibility, and there can be no accountability where there is no economy of authority. In fact, one great evidence of the Holy Spirit’s filling ministry among believers is SUBMISSION (Ephesians 5:21). Without faithful self-denial and submission, both relationship and fellowship suffer as imperfect people live on this imperfect earth.
I could write for years on this one; so many errors, so little time! No relationship without responsibility? How on earth did David and Jonathan get along as friends, did David boss Johnny, or was it the other way around? No accountability where there is no economy of authority? God has authority over people for all time and eternity, because He’s God and we’re not. But between two adults, any permanent and involuntary (intrinsic) hierarchy is nothing less than slavery. And what do they think SUBMISSION means? Do they not know it’s MUTUAL?
Eph. 5: 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Clearly, anything that’s mutual is (pun intended) mutually exclusive with hierarchy. Therefore submission is not subservience to a superior; the Greek word does not indicate such a hierarchy.

Continuing to paint equality between the sexes as goddess worship and pantheism, we read this astounding statement:

William Young felt it necessary to inject femininity into the Trinity, a femininity that Scripture neither literally nor metaphorically endorses. But if the femininity of the Trinity becomes ingrained in the collective consciousness of a large number professing Christians, the essential goddess-ism it contains may lead devout souls into versions of spirituality utterly opposed by God and His Word.
Do they honestly think that injecting MASCULINITY into the Trinity is an improvement? They’re completely missing the point: God is SPIRIT, and whatever they think masculinity is apart from biology, I refuse to join with them in trying to create God in my or anyone else’s image. They keep trying to compare the relationship between God and man with that between a husband and wife, yet it is not the Divine Trinity that Paul draws a marriage analogy from (which, when you think about it, is disgusting!), but the joining of the incarnate Son with his Body, his Bride, the Church (which is composed of both males and females)-- see Eph. 5:32. They even admit that the whole church is the Bride of Christ, but somehow think that the church should be run by men to properly symbolize things!

It’s getting so pervasive, this willingness to abandon sound exegesis for a pet presupposition. I still cannot fathom why any Christian, even if they did have some kind of authority over other Christians permanently and on the sole basis of the flesh, would want to exercise it. Love is not self-seeking, Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 13; treat others as better than yourself was his echo of Jesus’ Golden Rule. These, along with not so among you, are the antithesis of hierarchy between adult believers on a permanent and intrinsic basis.

While it is good to be zealous for guarding the truths about the nature of God, to fight for his honor, it is equally imperative that we know exactly what that nature is-- and is not. If the Church spent half as much energy reaching the lost as they do trying to keep half the Body of Christ bound and hobbled, we’d have a much different world.

14 Comments

Paula Fether

Hey Robin, for some reason your comment just now appeared. Tanx!

Now if we could just get anti-egals to see these basic things...

Don

As Voltaire said (my paraphrase), "God created man in his image, and man tries to return the favor."

What they are doing is nothing less than idolatry, all in the name of the Bible. Of course, all of us try to make idols. And sometimes we need the help of others to see it.

Greg Anderson

You remind me very much of Thomas Paine in the late 1770’s. Take that in a good way, because Paine’s writings caused quite a stir then too, chief among them being a pamphlet entitled "Common Sense".

Robin

Excellent post. I sense the exasperation that I feel in the midst of this cultural discussion (egals vs non-egals). I don’t know where it took this turn, but I grew up as a child knowing that God wasn’t gendered. It’s Christianity 101 stuff.

Paula Fether

Yes Greg, a Paineful post indeed! Not much has changed since then, but only the names of the institutions.

Don, that quote from Voltaire keeps coming up more and more, doesn’t it? It’s sad, but at the same time, it will eventually purge the churches of many evils. Pride must continually push to extremes in order to stay in power, which turns out to be self-destructive. I can only pray the process doesn’t take too long.

Lin

"They begin with a badly translated passage of scripture which I discussed in Leading Women, Isaiah 3:12. This is widely held to equate female leadership with God’s displeasure with a nation."

I was shocked to read up on this very bad translation. Now, I see so many trotting it out to affirm their position. Besides the fact that the word ’women’ and ’children’ were changed from tax gleaners and exactors, we are in a New Covenant!

If these folks were consistent, then Herescope would not allow women to write there as men may read it.

Paula Fether

Consistency is the Achilles Heel of comp/pat teachings. They have to keep making workarounds to keep it afloat. Patches, alterations, nitpicky fine print... sure signs of a bad foundation.

Jamie

I think God defines Himself. He calls Himself a loving Father and calls Jesus His Son. These are male terms as we know males to be in this realm, yet we are speaking of the spiritual realm. God is male, because this is how He reveals Himself to us, and as Creator He holds the definition, not us. Jesus was born male. I (personally) would say the attributes of Himself that He has taken and applied to the position of Husband and Father in scripture, are male, yet there is a completeness to God that is beyond our human understanding. He is far beyond male or female as far as our understanding of the two, yet he still clearly defines Himself as male (Father) and not mother or daughter. He defines Himself, we don’t define Him. This doesn’t diminish His love or value of females, because God is no respecter of people.

(I won’t debate it, just offering my view)

Paula Fether

Hi Jamie,

Of course we are limited in our ability to grasp the full nature of God. But since male and female are biological descriptions, and God is spirit, and Jesus is only male in his humanity, then I must conclude that God cannot be male-- or female. We simply lack the "tools" to describe God as neither male nor female without calling him an "it".

But of course, the important thing is just what you said about God not being a respecter of persons. Yet the reality is that practically every influential Christian leader who insists that God is male, is using it as a weapon to bludgeon women into subservience. The important issue is that love does no such thing.

Jamie

"Yet the reality is that practically every influential Christian leader who insists that God is male, is using it as a weapon to bludgeon women into subservience."

I have been seeing more and more of this on the internet lately. I no longer read the carnal crap out there that satan is using to further divide and conquer the body.. through those who want to be served rather than serve. They want your submission for themselves, rather than the good of seeing you submitted to Jesus Christ. Most of what I see concerning this issue springs from baggage, and I refuse to allow a bitter root to defile me or my simplicity in Christ. I had to turn away from it. It’s getting so that we can’t even find pure undefiled humble fellowship on the internet anymore.

Paula Fether

All too true. Long time Christian leaders are being outed almost daily, as having fits of rage when anyone crosses them. There is a mean-spirited cancer running rampant among evangelicals, especially "teachers" and people of influence.

We have to remember we’re living in the waning hours of "the day", and such things go with this era. One of the churches in Revelation was told to just hang on; I think that’s where we are now.

Jamie

...I agree... I just need to get alone with God for awhile. That stuff makes me feel like I’ve been wallowing in the mud when I read it.

Jamie

Just wanted to share one more thing! This is beautiful!..

There is a tale about Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War. He happened upon a slave auction, and noticed from the crowd the object of the next sale. A beautiful young black woman stood on the auctioneer’s stage. The bidding started and the men in the crowd began raising the price one after another, as they appraised her with cruel stares. But with each bid, Abraham Lincoln would raise it one dollar higher. As this continued the young slave girl eyed the tall awkward man with a look of suspicion and fear. Finally, the last bid was made, and it fell to young Lincoln ; Lincoln paid the auctioneer and the slave girl was brought to him. “Remove her chains”, he ordered her former captor. The girl rubbed her wrists and glared at her new master with uncertainty. “What ya’ goin’ ta’ do wit’ me now”, she asked. “Why, I’m going to set you free miss”, he answered. “Free? What you mean, free?” “I mean you are a free person. You are no longer a slave.” “Ya’ mean I can do whatever I want?” she exclaimed. “Ya’ mean I can go anywhere I want?” Abraham Lincoln just smiled and nodded his head. “Then I want to be wit’ you!” she shouted. He looked down at her, puzzled. “You can go anywhere. Why would you want to follow me?” “Cause I wanna be wit’ the one who set me free.”

Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

Paula Fether

Yep.

Also reminds me of the 10 lepers Jesus healed, and only one showed gratitude. Don’t know if you saw my Rocket Science post, but I think it says what you’re saying. :-)