The male gender has been used most times to represent God, and even animatively, the voice and figure of a man, have been used to represent God, so this question pops up; does God really have a gender?
The assumption of Gods gender has come to play a big role in personal relationships and view of God. Different religions have represented God in different ways, but the pronoun ‘HE’ has been mostly used to represent God, other words like ‘father’, king, and other ‘masculine’ words are mostly used to represent God.The classification of God ‘Almighty’ to a particular gender might be as blasphemous as it seems. although many religions are guilty of these acts, I would be taking as much bits from as many religions as I can to analyze God and genderism from different aspects.
God in Christianity
Christian scholars in favour of Gods masculine gender have argued that God has chosen to be presented with masculine qualities of fatherhood, protection, direction, strength, etc. They further argue about the metaphors used to describe God in the Bible, such as: King, Father, Judge, Husband, Master, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But these scholars supposedly ‘forgot’ to inform us about the ‘feminine’ images of God as revealed in the same bible, such as; in (Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34) which revealed God as a Mother Hen – Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”(Luke 15:8-10); God as woman looking for her lost coin – Jesus: “Or what woman having ten silver coins, is she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Other feminine images of God in the bible include; (Genesis 1:27) Women and Men created in God’s image“Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.”, (Hosea 11:3-4) God described as a mother, (Hosea 13:8) God described as a mother bear- “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”(Deuteronomy 32:11-12) God described as a mother eagle -“Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”(Deuteronomy 32:18) God who gives birth- “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” (Isaiah 66:13) God as a comforting mother- God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”(Isaiah 49:15) God compared to a nursing mother,(Isaiah 42:14) God as a woman in labor- God: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” (Psalm 131:2) God as a Mother “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” (Psalm 123:2-3) God compared to a woman.In as much as the bible was written by people in highly patriarchal cultures, where Old Testament often depicts God as a militant, God of war, and the New Testament depicts God as the loving Father, its proven Gods revelations weren’t just using ‘male’ characteristics, God was also represented with ‘female’ characteristics.
In Hinduism- Na tasya pratima asti” which means “There is no image of God.”
[Yajurveda 32:3] “shudhama poapvidham” which means “God is bodyless and pure.”
In Christainity- Elihu explains to Job, “Surely God is great, and we do not know God” (Job 36:26a)
To whom will we compare God, or what likeness will we compare with God? (Isa. 40:18, 25). No one and all.
Qur’an 112:3–4 states: “God begets not, nor is God begotten. And none is like Him [Them].
Having said this, does this mean that God is female then? No. Just as masculine references to God in the Bible do not prove that God is male, feminine references of God doesn’t prove that God is female. These are simply metaphors used to describe God in terms relatable to humans. even according to (Gregory of Nazianzus (4th century)) “the ostensibly masculine terms “Father” and “Son” were explicitly stated to be taken as metaphorical, and not as representing divine essence….” The act of restricting the representation of God to a particular gender is belittling of the true essence and magnificence of the Almighty. Therefore, I say this to you that God is neither female nor male. God in fact transcends gender. The Bible in itself warns us that God is beyond our comprehension. if God in all might is beyond our comprehension, with the restrictiveness of the human mind, we choose to blatantly reveal the image of God in one line, as though we fully understand Gods person? as Or David exclaims, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; Gods greatness is unsearchable” (Ps. 145:3). The Lord tells Isaiah, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9), Elihu explains to Job, “Surely God is great, and we do not know God” (Job 36:26a). To whom will we compare God, or what likeness will we compare with God? (Isa. 40:18, 25). No one and all. Then, does God have gender or gender identity? Definitely no—God has no sex. God is in God’s own class
Consequently, God is identified with a variety of characteristics and culturally gendered roles of both females and males, identifying with both genders
That being said about Gods representation in Christianity, the Hinduism representation of God is from a different and more ‘accommodating’ perspective. due to the diversity in the ways of worship among Hindus they are very accommodating and tolerant of other religions because they respect the fact that each has its own pathway to the one God. Contrary to common believe, Hindus have diverse names and representations of God, depending on the sect they belong. Though they worship one God, they give way to different pathways to worship God depending on the sect you belong to under the religion. Hinduism gives us the freedom to approach God in our own way, encouraging a multiplicity of paths, not asking for conformity to just one.
God is the source of everything, including gender. Therefore, males and females are both needed to reflect God’s image.
God in Hinduism
Some fascinating things about Hinduism in relation to this topic are; the believe only in the formless Absolute Reality as God. in vedas which is referred to as one of the most sacred scriptures in Hinduism, God is described to be eternal, ‘genderless’, omnipotent, omniscient. omnipresent, and ultimately indescribable in human language.
In Vedas and Bhagvad Gita, which are considered the most sacred books in the hindu scriptures, a few lines where they describe God, and allude to the inability and unacceptability of humans to imagine and represent God in a particular form are as thus: ‘Ekam evadvitiyam’ – which means- ‘God is one and only without a second’ [chandogya upanishad 6:2:1]
‘Na tasya pratima asti‘ which means, ‘there is no likeness to God’. [svetasvatara upanishad 4:19]
“Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam.” which means “Gods form is not to be seen; no one sees God with the eye.” [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]
“Ekam evadvitiyam” which means “God is One only without a second.”[Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]
“Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah.” which means “Of God there are neither parents nor lord.” [Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]
“Na tasya pratima asti” which means “There is no likeness of God.” [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]. The Upanishads are considered sacred scriptures by the Hindus.
The following verses from the Yajurveda echo similar concepts of God:”Na tasya pratima asti” which means “There is no image of God.”
[Yajurveda 32:3] “shudhama poapvidham” which means “God is bodyless and pure.” [Yajurveda 40:8] “Andhatama pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste” which means
“They enter darkness, those who worship the natural elements” (Air, Water, Fire, etc.). “They sink deeper in darkness, those who worship sambhuti.”
[Yajurveda 40:9]. Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol, etc.
In general, Hinduism refers to God as without form, or gender, therefore, even though the representations are directed to particular ideologies or forms, underlining concepts of the religion gives broader views to the concept of God in Hinduism, and muslims do agree with God as the creator, but reject any image of God.
My major reason for using a few religions in my description of God, is to prove with scriptural evidences that God is an intangible spirit in many religions and therefore must be thought to have no gender. Even though the world has been highly patriarchal, I mean Just think of Michelangelo’s painting of the bearded creator God in the Sistine Chapel.
People need to remember that God transcends gender, God is Spirit and has no form, male or female, god is all in all, the representations of God in the Bible are metaphorical, i.e they dont actually define God, but are used to describe God in humanly relatable terms.
However, the concept of God is a personal thing, and should be regarded as such. I am not here to state that no one should use the pronoun ‘he’ when referring to God anymore, but indeed I am saying that the use of a the particular pronoun ‘he’ restrict the ideology and view of the individual concept of God almighty, into the restricted ‘masculine’ concept as represented by society and human perceived ideology of masculinity and femininity. Moreover, masculine biblical language for God refers to grammatical, not natural, gender. some individuals and sects have gone to the extent of rejecting the trinity; Father, son and holy spirit in entirity, and replacing it with mother child, and womb, others have gone to the extent of rejecting the word ‘God’ itself as having masculine associations, and replace with God(dess) is entirely feminine, which might seem to lean a bit to the opposite error but certainly is not harmful as Christian patriarchy is in its misguided view of a male God.
God In Islam
In the Qur’an, Allah is most often referred to with the pronouns Hu or Huwa, and although these are commonly translated as ‘him’, they can also be translated gender-neutrally, as ‘them’. This is also true of the feminine equivalent, Hiya. Qur’an 112:3–4 states: “He[They] begets not, nor is He[They] begotten. And none is like Him [Them].” .
It happens naturally that people tend to form an image in their mind for God, in all the fullness and majesty of the almighty, people tend to create these images of who God is to them, as it relates to their particular situation, but when society gives a boxed perception of God Almighty, due to the humans nature and perception of what Gods gender is, as assumed by the human and societal perception of non biological gender attribute therefore challenging the versatility of God, in revelation, person, and spirit, and you think you’re not committing blasphemy?
I am completely convinced that God is actually beyond gender. People need to remember that God transcends gender, God is Spirit and has no form, male or female, God is all in all, the representations of God in the Bible are metaphorical, i.e they don’t actually define God, but are used to describe God in humanly relatable terms. Plus, Jesus’ maleness is not what reflects God’s essence.
Society tends alot to affect individual ideology of things, by limiting the societal mode of thinking in abstraction, thereby dependency of individuals in physical realities, “usually wrong realities” is the other of the day. This reduces a persons ability to think in abstractions without using the physical world as a base. People fool themselves into thinking that because you feel comforable with an ideology, or way of life, that their grasp of the idea it conveys is complete.
I believe everyone should be allowed to think of God in ways that makes sense to us, as long as we don’t take those thoughts as the actual definition of God, and I refuse to support images of an exclusively male God that consciously or subconsciously create restricted imageries of God. The world has evolved, and people need to wake up and break out from that ‘comfort zone’ which is detrimental to others with perspective that aim to diminish the female gender to anything less than full equality in the face of our loving God Almighty.
Photo Credit: Getty
Thanks to reading.
Do enjoy the rest of the site.