Gender Issues with God

I’ve been contemplating for a while the language I use when referring to God. As many others do, I refer to God as a masculine deity. But, since gender is a physical aspect of our humanity, I know that God is neither male nor female, or rather, that He possesses both masculine and feminine attributes. Interestingly, the Spirit of God, in the Hebrew Scripture, is grammatically feminine. In fact, very often the Spirit of God is given very feminine attributes: she is maternal, she is nourishing, she longs to be found beautiful, etc. I want to best express these realities in my religious language.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to refer to the Holy Spirit as a She. But I’ve taken for granted my view of a masculine God, so I don’t even think about it. I don’t have a problem with people referring to God in the feminine or masculine pronoun. I realize, however, that many Christians do. There are those that would shout, “Heretic! How dare you promote goddess worship?” But I wonder, what are these critics arguing against? The term goddess comes from ancient religions that believed deities possessed a physical gender. A goddess was actually female with respective sexual organs. Gods and goddesses, in this paradigm, were capable of having sexual intercourse with one another and humans. What the argument seems to be advocating for, then, is that only a male can be worshipped. God, it seems, is of a masculine gender. However, I know this is not what the critics are arguing for. Thus their criticism is irrelevant.

God is neither male nor female. God does not have a penis or a vagina. At least we don’t think He does. And throughout Scripture, God is given the personification of a man and woman, warrior and bride. Would it be wrong, then, to refer to God as either my Father or my Mother depending on the context of my situation? Perhaps to some it may be, but there’s nothing in Scripture that tells us otherwise.

I have good reasons for wanting to refer to the Holy Spirit as a She. I think using this pronoun helps to put the transcendence and holism of God in perspective. God is not just a male figure, She is also a female figure and we just might perform a terrible injustice to God’s nature if we only refer to Him as a male. Grant it, I wish we had a better language that we could use for God that expresses simultaneously His/Her feminine and masculine attributes (maybe YHWH did it for the ancients?). This would spare the bitter divisions and accusations within Christendom.

I suppose that this conversation leads to deeper issue among Christians, which unfortunately miss the scope of my present posting. These deeper issues can be consolidated into the following question: What are Christians so afraid of?

Posted in god