Answer by John Mackay
There is no doubt we live in an age where even fairy tales are being de-gendered. Male hero is out. Hero Princess is in (but not ‘heroine’). ‘He’ is leaving and ‘they’ is taking over as a de-gendered singular. Even the church is avoiding the word ‘man’. A modern version of the Nicene Creed has reworded the section on Christ’s incarnation from: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven … and became man” to now read: “For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven… and became truly human”.
One result is that it is increasingly popular for some church leaders and Theologians to claim the Christian God also has no gender, and that our traditional Christian view of God as He or Father, occurs only because the early Jews couldn’t explain God any better than that. In other words the He, Father God, concept is a limitation due to our primitive human language. In defence of such views we hear claims that God has both male and female qualities because there are many verses in scripture where God is described as being like a mother, i.e. a hen who gathers her chicks (Matthew 23 :37), or a she-bear who protects her cubs (Hosea13:8).
So what can we find out about the gender of God?
It is undeniable that the language of the Old Testament and the New Testament always portrays God in what linguists call the male gender. The very first verse of Genesis read in the original Hebrew states ‘Bereshith bara Elohim’. In English – ‘In the beginning God’. The Hebrew word for God is Elohim and any concordance worth its salt will tell you this a plural noun, plural in the masculine gender. Elohim is not a name, but a description of this being’s position as the Supreme Being, in the same way as King, as in “King of England,” is not a name, but a position. It is used with the verb ‘create’ (bara) which is a verb with masculine gender. It is an example where the English language does not actually communicate all the Hebrew language contains.
One reason for genders in older languages is so you would not mistake which nouns and verbs actually linked to each other. By the time we arrive thousands of years past the tower of Babel, we find some languages which have three genders, such as German, with male nouns, female nouns and neutral nouns. Anyone who has done high school French, knows the mystery of these genders as you read about ‘the dog’ (le chien) or ‘the chair’ (la Chaise). La and le reflect older gender descripted nouns in which la is feminine (Ooh la la!), and le is masculine. English readers don’t think of a word such as ‘the’ as having a gender, but in more particular languages it does.
Some languages including English have lost these distinctions so it all becomes rather mysterious as to why you can have a feminine gender chair, when we English speakers usually associate gender with sex, and chairs are pretty sexless. Yet when you have ‘le dog’, the group of dogs is obviously regarded as feminine, but it has nothing to do with whether a female bitch or a male dog is being talked about.
Most don’t know that genderised nouns existed in English until the late 1300s then fell into disuse. The result of this trend to simplification and loss of detail in English, has produced a language which is the most flexible on the planet, yet requires a vast number of lawyers (of both genders) to prove if what you said is actually what you meant. One consequence is that the word ‘god’ in English does not automatically have male gender. Yet in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, the word God is described always in the masculine gender. This is affirmed by Jesus who referred to God as Father, and taught his disciples to address their prayers to “Our Father”. Hence it is easy to distinguish the male masculine father God of the Old Testament and the male masculine father of our Lord Jesus Christ (also masculine) in the New Testament from pagan gods and goddesses.
Now those of you who feel you can argue God has feminine attributes, because He is quoted or referred to using descriptions associated with motherly characteristics, consider the origin of all human attributes. And also ask since God created male and female why do mothers have the attributes they do? The answer is simple! When the triune God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all masculine – created man in His image, the first human was a male – Adam. The masculine gender Creator then took from the masculine gendered man’s side, and made a woman. The resulting feminine engendered woman therefore had only those characteristics which God took out of the newly created man. Note well! God did not give the woman Eve any new or different characteristics, because then she would not have been one flesh with Adam. So the real reason women are caring, is that they are all descended from the first Eve and have the caring attributes God took from the man who was made in the image of the caring Creator, minus a whole lot of testosterone fuelled Adamic male leadership role enthusiasm.
Think how silly it would be to argue that because God is compared to the loving compassion of a mother hen that must make him a chicken, and it is just as silly to argue that comparing God to a mother makes him feminine. Yes, God is caring, but He is not a woman. This is clear from the use of this metaphor by Jesus in his lament over Jerusalem, recorded in Matthew 23:37, where Jesus says: “How often would I have gathered your children as a hen gathers her brood under her wings”. No-one hearing that would have thought Jesus was claiming he was a woman, but rather He was expressing his love for His people.
The same applies in other passages where similar metaphors are used by the prophets and psalmists, and even in the parable where Jesus compares God’s desire to seek and save the lost as being like a housekeeper searching for her lost coin. The purpose of each of these passages is to express the depth of God’s love for His people, not make a statement about God’s gender. (See footnote for references)
To make this more earthy, sadly we need to make a simple, yet what should be an obvious point, but it won’t be a popular one. When Jesus came to this earth, He came as man. When He rose from the dead He was recognized as the same man, in all his post resurrection appearances up until, and including, His ascension into Heaven. As He ascended the angel told His disciples they would see Him return as He had left. So a blunt question: what do you think was in their minds about the return of Christ? Because when Jesus left the earth He took His male sex organs with him, and when He returns He will also bring them back. The fatal fallacy in the claim that God is genderless shows up right here.
What of those who say, God could have come as a woman if He wanted – as in the Shack fantasy! The answer is no, he never could have, and the reason is simple. It was not the woman who bought sin on to planet earth. It was the man Adam. The New Testament is emphatic that with one man sin came in, and therefore one man was needed to take it out. There is the very reason why Jesus is called the last Adam, because he came to deal with the problem engendered to us by the first Adam. The first woman Eve was deceived, but the first man wasn’t. He chose to sin. As a result the wages of sin has always been dealt with by male sacrifices. A male lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus had to be born as a human male, because it was due to a man’s sin, that Jesus died.
Anyone suggesting this somehow excludes women should be reminded that Eve was made from tissue taken from Adam, not from raw materials, which means the entire human race can be included in the one man Adam. Therefore, it is fully in order for the human race to called Mankind. Again we must not forget the “one man” principle set out by the Apostle Paul in Romans 5, which tells us that one man Adam’s sin brought sin into the entire human race, and one man Jesus’ act of righteousness paid the penalty for all mankind, male and female, of all generations. Christians who want to compromise on the origin of mankind as described in Genesis 2, and deny a literal Adam and Eve, should take note.
In conclusion: No – Jesus Christ as God could never have come as a woman, and we urge Christians everywhere to see this genderless God push as the result of Satan’s ploy to produce a genderless society where the devil and his demons can wreak havoc in all God’s institutions, such as the family and the church where gender roles are absolutely indispensable.
Other references claimed as showing God has “feminine” characteristics:
God is like a mother eagle hovering over her young (Deuteronomy 32:11)
God cares for his people like a midwife that cares for the child she just delivered (Psalm 22:9-10, Psalm 71:6, Isaiah 66:9)
Like a woman would never forget her nursing child, God will not forget his children (Isaiah 49:15)
God comforts his people like a mother comforts her child (Isaiah 66:13)
TRANSGENDERING? Is it possible to change your gender? Answer here.
ADAM & EVE: Who were Adam and Eve? Answer here.
GOD’S NAME? Why do some people pronounce God’s name as Yahweh and others say Jehovah? Answer here.
HOMOPHOBIA? Why do you people hate homosexuals if you claim God is a God of love? Answer here.
Were you helped by this answer? If so, consider making a donation so we can keep adding more answers. For USA tax deductible donations click here. For UK tax deductible donations click here. For Australia and rest of world click here.