Does God Have a Gender?

Of course not!   God is a supernatural being who, as the Creator and Lord of everything, transcends gender as well as every other human distinction or description.  Exactly how to describe God is something we just don’t know how to do since there is only one singular and limitless one of Him, and therefore absolutely nothing else we can compare Him to.

However, perhaps you noticed a glaring inconsistency in the prior paragraph:  though it emphatically states that God cannot be described as male or female, it twice employs the masculine pronoun “Him.”  What gives with that?

We should first try to be as clear as we can about what we mean when we say ‘God.’  The Christian faith accepts the Bible’s own description, which insists that God is a singular deity and yet also speaks of Him acting as three distinct persons.  This incomprehensible aspect of God’s nature is referred to as the Trinity and has been an essential part of Christian belief ever since the One True God powerfully revealed Himself as the resurrected Son on Easter morning and as the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Sometimes we may refer specifically to one of God’s three personas:

  • God the Father: the originator and sustainer of all that is;
  • God the Son: the incarnation of God as a physical human being;
  • God the Holy Spirit: the spiritual presence who dwells in human hearts.

But since each of these persons is God, individually and collectively, we simply use male pronouns for any and all.  Now while Jesus in His human incarnation is indeed male, because He is united with the Father and Holy Spirit as one indivisible being, He also transcends that label.  That’s a mystery in the same way that though being a true human like us, He is also true God so very different from us.  So when we relate to Jesus/God, it is not as one whose gender is the same as or different from our own, but as almighty God who has lovingly chosen to share fully in our humanity.

Today there are some who think it offensive to women to use male terminology when we speak of God.   So in the interest of “Political Correctness” and to avoid the possibility of making anyone feel excluded, why don’t we simply adopt “genderless” terminology?   In fact, some churches have done so and some modern translations of the Bible have gone in this direction.  However, this congregation and our parent denomination (the North American Lutheran Church) stand opposed to that practice.  Why?  If scriptural pronouns for God are merely archaic reflections of the male-dominated society that Christianity arose from, why wouldn’t we want to “get with the times?”

We believe that this is a place where we have to stand firm on the principle of being bound by God’s Word as revealed to us in the Bible, rather than conforming to societal pressures. Jesus Himself consistently spoke of His heavenly Father (even using an intimate Aramaic term analogous to “daddy” when he prayed: Mark 14:36) and the Father spoke of Jesus as His Son (Mark 9:7).   Throughout scripture, the subject of God’s name is treated as a matter of great importance (Exodus 20:7) and since these are the designations which God chose for Himself, who are we to mess with His preferences?   Further, though it is true that our society may strive to be gender-blind, that does not reflect the culture in which the Bible was revealed to us.  Just as terms such as ‘king,’ ‘Lord,’ and ‘servant’ conveyed specific cultural meanings to the early Christians, we appreciate that ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ also express nuances of meaning that are blurred in genderless wording.  (For example, in ancient times, the first son was the heir who was expected to carry on the father’s legacy.)

However, we do need be very clear that though we believe that the integrity of God’s Word transcends our personal preferences and cultural sensibilities, adhering faithfully to His Word also requires us to recognize the universality of the Good News of Salvation:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 3:28)

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