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Archive for Saturday, March 29, 2008

Faith Forum: Is God male or female?

March 29, 2008

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Gender labels limit God's power

The Rev. Ira DeSpain, campus pastor, Baker University:

Gender identification, similarities and differences are biological issues. Since God is a spiritual and not a biological being, there is not a satisfying answer to this question.

In the creation story, Genesis 1:26 and following, God said, "Let us make humans in our image ... in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

One question that this raises is, "To whom is God speaking here?" Perhaps to other heavenly beings, or to Jesus, or to the animals that God had already created. No one knows. What we do know is that God created both male and female in God's image. In that sense, God is both male and female.

Jesus refers to God as "father," suggesting that his image of God was masculine. Yet Jesus also prays for Jerusalem, saying that he would gather up Jerusalem's children, "as a hen gathers her brood under her wings." (Matthew 23:37) The image of God here is female.

Paul doesn't write about God's gender identification but does write about ours: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, we are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Paul suggests that our gender identification is immaterial in God's eyes.

But the best answer came from my mother, who, along with my father, nurtured me in the faith from my infancy. I told her I was writing this column and what the question was. She replied, "What difference does it make?" That is really where I am. To attempt to force God into a gender role is to attempt to limit God's power - something that no one, of course, can do.

- Send e-mail to Ira DeSpain at ira.despain@bakeru.edu.

'Male' spirit evident in Bible

Doug Heacock, contemporary worship leader, Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.:

Technically, God is a spirit, according to the words of Jesus - "God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Whether a spirit can have an actual gender or not is probably not something we can really be confident about, one way or the other, this side of heaven, but it seems clear that a spirit can have personhood, as the pronoun used to refer to the Holy Spirit in Scripture is generally "he" and not "it." God is consistently represented as male in both the Old and New Testaments, with the possible exception of a passage where God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, says, "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you" (Isaiah 66:13). But a single use of this simile, among hundreds of other passages in which God is described as Father, or referred to with masculine pronouns, isn't enough to warrant giving much thought to the notion that God might be female.

There have been several gender-inclusive translations of the Bible in recent years, and in some passages referring to people, male pronouns are replaced with gender-inclusive words, when it is clear that the intent is not strictly gender-specific. But in general, translators have left the male references to God alone. The concept of God as our heavenly Father permeates the Scripture so thoroughly that to believe otherwise would be to twist the meaning of much of the Bible beyond recognition.

I humbly submit that whatever "male" might mean in the spirit realm, I believe God is male.

- Send e-mail to Doug Heacock at doug.heacock@gmail.com.

Comments

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Whether these two writers agree or not Christianity is a derivative of Judaism, a patriarchal religion. God is masculinized and that masculinization has been used by all Christian religions to subjugate women. Interestingly enough I don't think Christ meant it to be that way. In certain very early Coptic forms of the church started by other Apostles that weren't under the sway of Paul, women held equal office and station in the church. Mary Magdalene, so demonized by the Catholic Church, was called "the female apostle" and "the apostle to women". Women were even able to attain priesthood. (Gasp!) However Paul, who was called an "apostle" despite the fact that he never even met Christ, gained control of the vast bulk of the early church. Paul was a known misogynist and his letters are peppered with statements about keeping women in control and subjugated. Nowhere is that attitude evident in the Gospels or Acts. Despite their demonization of Mary Magdalene the Catholic Church did throw a sop to women in the form of Christ's mother. They are the only Christian church that in essence created a "goddess". However this was done not because they seriously believed in Mary's divinity but for expedience. All of the cultures Christianized by Rome were pagan cultures with pantheons of gods and goddesses and totally unfamiliar with the concept of monotheism. Without giving them a goddess in exchange they would have never been able to introduce Christianity to those cultures. Do I believe that God is masculine? Not just no but "hell" (a concept I don't believe in) no. God to me is genderless but can and does take the face of many concepts; mother, father, wife, husband, sister, brother, son, daughter and most importantly, friend.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 9 months ago

We are made in the image of God. WTF does THAT mean? The Bible is such a pile of indesciferable gunk that huMANity can get away with every evil it can imagine. Religion is part of the patriarchy and that is why it must die! LOOK at this sh!te! We have one mAnister's lame attempt to try to inject a feeble bit of female into the God concept and another who realizes the score is dudes one (won) and chicks zip (it)! God is spirit which is invisible except in the invisible light of invisible belief in invisible faith in the invisible insy naval contemplation of the invisible. It's all good...to contemplate...just don't bank on it. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and believe in the manifest likeness of being. I'm simply channeling the spirit, today. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

gogoplata 6 years, 9 months ago

Paul did meet Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Ragingbear 6 years, 9 months ago

FSM consist of both male and female pasta appendages.

pusscanthropus 6 years, 9 months ago

FSM is a true hermaphrodite diety! Ramen Brother!

Ragingbear 6 years, 9 months ago

Be bathed in his sacred Alfredo Sauce!

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

Like Mary, FSM is truly parthenogenic.

But also hermaphroditic. Not only does FSM have noodly appendages, but buried deep inside are the most sublime orrechiette.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

"Paul did meet Jesus on the road to Damascus."

Is that what the kids are calling it these days? That's just sick.

Jayhawkman2008 6 years, 9 months ago

It is obvious that some of you have not opened and read the bible. Maybe it's because you do not believe that it's the preserved Word of God that He inspired and wrote. If this is so, then I understand why you believe the way you do that God can be a female or non gender. If you read the bible, it is very clear that God is male! I can give you biblical proof text after proof text, but then some of you still wouldn't believe it because you are mad at God and the world anyhow! Plus! You might be to lazy to pick up and read the bible to find out the truth for yourself.

jonas 6 years, 9 months ago

The question should be "Does it matter if god is male or female?".

jonas 6 years, 9 months ago

jayhawkman2008: That was pretty realistic. A few flaws here and there, but I could be convinced.

Jayhawkman2008 6 years, 9 months ago

Well it mattered to God! If it didn't matter to him, than He wouldn't have made it so clear in the scriptures! He would have left it very vague, but He didn't! Read the bible!

Jayhawkman2008 6 years, 9 months ago

Jonas, what were the flaws? I cannot convince anyone about God's truth unless they are truly searching for it in their heart! Yet, I leave the convincing to you and encourage you to open the bible and give it the benefit of the doubt! Read it and keep it in its rightful context as you would read any other book! Have you ever read the bible?

notajayhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Is God tall or short?

What color are God's eyes?

Does God like cats or dogs?

Does God cheer for KU or K-State?

Does God use Mastercard or American Express?

If there's only one God, does it make much difference if it's female or male? Either way there ain't gonna' be any little Gods running around...

ndmoderate 6 years, 9 months ago

I read the Bible.

Then I really realized that the whole business is ancient hogwash.

But....

To each his/her own!

pusscanthropus 6 years, 9 months ago

God is short. Her eyes are brown. She likes all animals. She doesn't concern herself with NCAA basketball. She's God, so She doesn't need a credit card.

topekan7 6 years, 9 months ago

Question: Is God male or female?

Answer: No

notajayhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

pusscanthropus (Anonymous) says:

"God is short. Her eyes are brown. She likes all animals. She doesn't concern herself with NCAA basketball. She's God, so She doesn't need a credit card."

Okay, I can accept (on faith) all those answers except her being unconcerned with college b-ball...

Jayhawkman2008 6 years, 9 months ago

Ndmoderate!

If you read the bible, you might be reading it to find contradictions and you're not reading it with a proper clean heart to find God's truth for your life! This is a heart condition problem! God is not ancient hogwash He is the creator of the universe and he created you as well! However, if you are viewing it as ancient hogwash, it may be because it doesn't line up with your standard for truth! What standard of truth do you live life from? Have you ever failed that standard? If you have failed it, then it is not a very good standard to live by. You might consider living by God's standard instead! Since you have this view about God, I can understand your spiritual condition of which you have no hope in life! You then become the standard for life and not God, which reveals that you may not have a relationship with God nor do you love God, because you might think you are in control of you life and eternal destiny! Sad to say He is in control whether you accept it or not!

jonas 6 years, 9 months ago

Jayhawkman2008 (Anonymous) says:

"Jonas, what were the flaws? I cannot convince anyone about God's truth unless they are truly searching for it in their heart!"

I wasn't talking about your argument, I was talking about your performance. Perhaps I erred.

Jayhawkman2008 6 years, 9 months ago

Jonas,

No offense taken whatsoever! I thought you found something that I could correct that I didn't see! Have a great day!

jonas 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm with notajayhawk. I'm afraid I'll never be able to get behind a god that doesn't care about NCAA basketball tournaments.

Although, I guess omniscience might make it less exciting.

ndmoderate 6 years, 9 months ago

Jayhawkman2008!

Thanks, but no thanks, for judging my life and existence based on your individual faith and interpretation of God!

I have plenty of hope in life!

My standard for truth is just fine!

Believe what you want, but don't dare look down on me because I don't share your views!

Your witnessing has failed, not in the least because of your condescension!

Good day!

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

The god of the old testament is most definitely male.

A vain, bullying, capricious, wanton male.

The bible is a scream. So many stories that make me laugh my a55 off. Much like Canterbury Tales.

Jayhawkman2008 6 years, 9 months ago

Ndmoderate!

I apologies and am sorry that you were offended by what I wrote! I am not judging you! You judged yourself! I do not look down on you and I am not witnessing to you! I only took what you said about reading the bible and calling it all hogwash and exposed what you reveal about your knowledge of the bible, which appears not to be much! I must have hit some sensitive and hot buttons with you! Despite your offense, I hope it has triggered you to think about what if any relationship you have with God. You can certainly believe what you want because everyone has a free will to do so and a free country to do it in! God will be your judge on judgment day not me! Yet, remember this is a faith forum for conversation! Don't make statements like you have and then be upset because someone responds to your comments about you reading the bible and then calling the whole business ancient hogwash! Moreover, I am not even offended by what you said! I just wanted to comment on it and stir provoking thought! No harm was intended whatsoever!

Ps 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

jonny_quest 6 years, 9 months ago

Is God male or female...it's a moot point. The Bible clearly defines God as...the ability to convince people to reject one set of fabled myths and to unconditionally believe in, die for and kill for another set of fabled myths.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Jayhawkman you need to take a look at the history of the Bible itself. What you read today is vastly different from original sources and texts. It's been through countless "revisions" and whitewashings to shore up the position of whichever church had control of it at the time. It is, in essence, a folktale. Paul didn't "meet Jesus on the road to Damascus". He had an epileptic seizure where he had a "vision" of Jesus. The two never met in real time, reality. My sister was in the ER once with a 104 degree temp and started talking to our dead mother. Does that mean my mom actually came back? Highly doubtful. However, on the strength of his "vision" this man managed to seize control of most of the early church and mold it into his view, not the view of what I think Christ intended. There's no way to know these things unless scientists someday invent a "wayback machine". Until that happens I simply cannot take these things on faith.

ndmoderate 6 years, 9 months ago

Careful jonny_quest, lest Captain Exclamation Point smite you from on high.

As to the question: it really doesn't matter, does it?

ndmoderate 6 years, 9 months ago

"I do not look down on you and I am not witnessing to you!"

OK....your passive-aggressive posts tell me otherwise.

Shouldn't you be witnessing? I mean, isn't the job of a Christian to evangelize?

Drew_Carey 6 years, 9 months ago

Does ndmoderate stand for negotiator/director like on Chemistry.com?

And the correct answer to today's question is: There are many gods. Why else would people worship each other with those words while in the throws of passion? And yes, that same action will create lots more "little" gods and goddesses. Turns out we didn't worship a single god like they planned.

200 pts for everyone for staying polite on this thread, It may be a first on a religious topic ever.

ndmoderate 6 years, 9 months ago

No Drew, it simply means I'm a political moderate living in North Dakota. Not very "romantic," I know--

buffalo_star 6 years, 9 months ago

The Lakota refer to god has "wakantanka" or great mystery or I have heard it "unknowable greatest". Gender seems a silly subject when one considers the infinite. I have no illusions that I can prove what I believe nor would I mock what others do or don't believe. Live in peace my friends.

jonny_quest 6 years, 9 months ago

Consider the grade school game where one person says a secret phrase to another person. For example, "the sky is clear". Then that person tells another, then the phrase is passed to another, etc. After a few iterations the phrase, " the sky is clear" becomes "I fly for beer" or something equally absurd.

Now consider The Bible. A collection of stories written, interpreted, rewritten and reinterpreted again and again from ancient foreign languages of ancient societies from thousands of years ago.

Is it within the realm of possibility that these stories are misinterpreted, embellished, improbable and even fabricated? Yet modern day "believers" possess unconditional faith that The Bible is true because it's...The Bible. Ironically, regardless of it's plausibility, the recurring theme is paying alms to the king or the church. It's a masterful manipulation of the (ignorant) masses.

Drew_Carey 6 years, 9 months ago

100 pts to jonny.

And we are letting those ignorant masses in by the thousands. Close the borders! Close them to any who don't have a masters in a needed field. By needed, I'm not thinking..philosophy, phys ed, journalism, cosmetology/nails. We are already turning those folks out by the thousands each year.

Godot 6 years, 9 months ago

Agree with buffalo star; it is silly to think of a spirit as having a gender. God transcends gender, race, physicality.

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 9 months ago

Jayhawkman2008 (Anonymous) says:

Ndmoderate!

I apologies and am sorry that you were offended by what I wrote! I am not judging you [like my god]! You judged yourself! I do not look down on you [like my god] and I am not witnessing to you [like my god]! I only took what you said about reading the bible and calling it all hogwash and exposed what you reveal about your knowledge of the bible, which appears not to be much! I must have hit some sensitive and hot buttons with you! Despite your offense, I hope it has triggered you to think about what if any relationship you have with [my] God. You can certainly believe what you want because everyone has a free will to do so and a free country to do it in! [My] God will be your judge on judgment day not me! Yet, remember this is a faith forum for conversation! Don't make statements like you have and then be upset because someone responds to your comments about you reading the bible and then calling the whole business ancient hogwash! Moreover, I am not even offended by what you said! I just wanted to comment on it and stir provoking thought! No harm was intended whatsoever!

Ps 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Jayhawkman, I admire your passion, but I personally get offended when folks try to tell me I'm going to hell and whatever else because I don't worship their God. I've inserted some editing additions into your previous post to make it a little more relative. I would advise you and others you know who are passionate about their Christian faith to engage in more of this language. For example, don't say that God is THE truth. Say God is YOUR truth. Not mine. Maybe folks won't react to you in the way ndmoderate did.

aginglady 6 years, 9 months ago

If god was female, men would know what they are doing. (had to fellas..read a map, look at the directions for christ's sake!) :)

Ceallach 6 years, 9 months ago

Just what we need, more tears from Ol' Roy.

Is God male or female? No, God is neither male nor female. Pathetic question, bringing about many pathetic answers. Going by some of the animosity vented above, seems a lot of people are betting there is no God, just a personal god that each individual gets to hand tool themselves. If you don't want to read the Bible, it would still serve you well to read about the Bible. Read about the prophecies that have already been fulfilled, about the fact that mankind in his/her glory have not progressed to the point that one single sin has been purged from our nature. Mankind can walk on the moon but can't stop telling lies. (Yes, even the little ones count.) We may make our surroundings more comfortable, but we cannot eliminate one facet of our sinful natures. So we do the next best thing, we decide that those actions aren't really sinful after all. Then we revere ourselves for being sooooo brilliant that we no longer need to be bound to such primitive notions.

jonas 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, well, that's what I do, at least.

Ceallach 6 years, 9 months ago

That's what I did for many years. I could not worship a god that allowed this, or I can't worship a god that says that. In my heart I knew there was "something" there, but I found making and remaking god in my own image was so very tiring, I changed my mind about something . . it had to change too.

Kathy Getto 6 years, 9 months ago

notnow - I agree with your basic concept - but I do not want to be compared to the likes of Saul/Paul. If you read the REAL history - Jesus wasn't even there at the time Paul allegedly met him on the road.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 9 months ago

We are all idiots and sinners so we should believe in THE Good GOD Book? I'm just not sure how that follows or helps. Ceallach says we've made no progress. I am on board with that notion but I haven't seen any indication that reading and "believing" helps one iota! Have you? Let's take it on down the road to destruction. That's the only prophecy that is real and matters...not to US, of course!~)

God perhaps shares as many characteristics with a transexual gal as with a male or female. Both appear to be product of man's desire for some kind of salvation, peace and reconciled belief. Neither functions quite the way that is desired but both have the mouths, dupes and legs to easily carry them along their respective roads.

Bless me father for I have sinned and am way past the point of deserving exile from this board!~) I mean no disrespect to those who seek their respective destinations. I have no doubt that yours, mine and ours are worthy of this insane journey. I believe my fair share of lies. I apologize for that. I seek forgiveness and apologies in kind.

jonas 6 years, 9 months ago

ceallach: I respect you too much to argue with you or demean your closure, but I'll just say that I don't think that yours is the only path.

storm 6 years, 9 months ago

Of all the gods out there, I really dislike that god that sent his only begotten son to another planet to be tortured and crucified for people who made his dad mad. That is really sick. That's child abuse. Right now, I like the gods of basketball the best, usually the one on legal tender is pretty good.

acg 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't know if God is real, but I'd like to think that God is both female and male (not a hermaphrodite) but incorporating the best traits of both sexes. As for the bible saying that God is male and that's that, well, the bible was written by men, not God. Men have been oppressing women and downplaying their roles in society since the beginning of time so am I surprised that the bible, written by men, says that God is a man and that women are the root of all evil? Absolutely not! As for having faith, I wish I could have blind faith. I've always found that religious people just seem to be happier people. I can't have blind faith, though. It's just not in me. So I'll continue on my way of research and reading, questioning everything that comes across my path and maybe some day I'll find the answer. The only problem is, you have to die to find it and that sucks.

coolmarv 6 years, 9 months ago

notajayhawk (Anonymous) says:

Is God tall or short?

What color are God's eyes?

Does God like cats or dogs?

Does God cheer for KU or K-State?

Does God use Mastercard or American Express?

If there's only one God, does it make much difference if it's female or male? Either way there ain't gonna' be any little Gods running around:

Tall. Green. Dogs. KU (duh) Cash. No.

ilikestuff 6 years, 8 months ago

We're not really in a position to know. God is always referred to as a male in scripture, however, even though we are made in his image I suspect God is different enough from us that it doesn't matter.

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