Friday, December 22, 2017

God Has No Feminine Side

I hear the statement that God is both masculine and feminine or that God has both male and female traits now and then, and I think it is worth clarifying the issue because it is easy to be misled into an erroneous view of God. It is not uncommon to hear people claim that God could just as easily be referred to as Goddess or to hear them speaking of Him as Mother God or something of that nature. Even those who don't go that far might be a little confused about God's gender, if you will. So perhaps this will be helpful.

I should think it obvious that God the Father does not have a body and thus has no sex. He is not male or female and has no attributes of male or female bodies. So we must distinguish in this case between biological sex and personal attributes such as masculinity and femininity which could apply even to a spirit being.

What people often mean when they claim that God has both male and female traits is that God exhibits all the good traits which we attribute to both men and women, including some that we might associate more with one gender or the other (such as caring, nurturing, compassion for females or strength and courage for males). This part is true. God does exhibit all good traits.

However, such character traits are not necessarily either masculine or feminine. We often associate certain traits more strongly with masculine or feminine roles, but the traits themselves, in being good and noble, are not solely the province of either gender. A man can be caring or compassionate and do so without being feminine. A woman can be courageous or strong without being masculine. So the roles of masculinity and femininity are not merely a collection of traits.

I would claim that the underlying basis for masculinity and femininity are in their contrast to one another and their emphasis more so than individual traits, and especially their contrast with regard to authority and leadership. The masculine role is one of leadership, authority, protection, and provision with respect to the feminine and the feminine role is one of receptiveness, submission, vulnerability, and willingness to be led with regard to the masculine.

Given these definitions of masculine and feminine, as contrasts to one another rather than a list of traits, it does not make sense to claim that God has both masculine and feminine traits. Traits have no gender. Masculine and feminine refer to roles, not merely a group of traits.

Under this definition, God is only masculine because He holds only the role of authority, provision, protection, and leadership with regard to everything else that exists - His creation. God does not hold the feminine role. Ever. He submits to no one. He is not led by anyone. And thus while we can acknowledge that God can and does exhibit compassion, nurturing, and care for those in need, these do not make God feminine any more than they would make any man feminine. They are noble and good traits and have no inherent gender, even if the female sex is more associated with them, and perhaps exhibits them more often.

God's role with respect to His creation is the role of the masculine, and thus we should only refer to God with masculine pronouns. That is also, not coincidentally, the way that God has revealed Himself to us. It is a serious error to claim God is feminine, and we must be careful to avoid this error.


5 comments:

  1. Hang on. You say God has no body, but in Genesis the Bible states that God made man in His image. So wouldn't this indicate God is a man? Or at least looks like one? I have always been taught that God is a man. Not a normal man, obviously, but his appearance is similar to that of a man.

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    1. God is a spirit, not a man. Mankind was created in God's image since we also have a spirit. But we are unlike God in many ways. We are finite. He is infinite. We have limited knowledge while He knows everything. We exist only in a particular location but He is omnipresent. So while we are similar to God in some ways, being rational and having a spirit and so on, we are only an image of God, not exactly like God.

      Some false religions, such as Mormonism, teach that their god is or was a man just like us. This is not consistent with the teaching of the Bible and thus reveals that their god is a different god, not the God of Christianity.

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    2. Of course, God the Son came to earth as the man Jesus who was and is both God and man. So God the Son does indeed have a body.

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  3. Thanks for this well thought out article. One thing I did want to add is that when God breathed into Adam (man) LIFE, He was creating Man to have an undying spirit like Himself. Mankind has the very breath of God in him. This set apart Man from the rest of creation. Something of the eternal was placed in us. All of creation may dissolve but the human spirit lives on. BUT where do these spirits go after their flesh is dead? It all depends on what we do with Christ.

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