God's Gender

A recent question popped up in another thread. So, to avoid a ‘thread hijacking’, I thought I’d start a new thread about it.

The original discussion was regarding those folks who wish to attribute female nouns and pronouns when referring to God.

Father Todd remarked the following:

It would be heterodox because the Church has ruled on it and said it is inappropriate. I am not speaking of Saginaw specifically since I have no knowledge of it. But it is important to remember that God has no gender. When a masculine pronount is used to describe God it isn’t describing God’s gender but rather a relationship to us.

In relation to God we all stand in the feminine because God initiates the love relationship with us and the only thing we can do before God is to receive. See JPII’s theology of the body for a more detailed explanation or check out a tape by Christopher West. You can also check this website for an answer I bet.

To say God is a male is incorrect. God has no gender per se. But to refer to God in the feminine also is incorrect. Both are at best heterodox at worst pagan.

Original Thread: The above post was #192
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=29928&page=2&pp=100
continued…

Jumping down to post #200, a fellow member posted the following:

Dear Father,

I hope my question has not been asked before only to have been carelessly missed by me.

I do not understand how to refer to God as male can “at best be heterodox or at worst pagan,” when we have always been told to refer to Him as “Abba, our Father.” Even Our Lord taught us to pray saying, “Our Father.”

In Mark, Our Lord himself calls upon His Father to remove the cup.

What sort of Abba or Father is genderless, not to say feminine?

God bless,

Anna

continued…

this was where the thread really started vearing off course… but I have a weakness for being unable to leave a question unanswered…

[quote=Shiann]In other words, God is our provider, our protector, and our creator. The relationship we have with God is similar to the relationship a child has with a loving and caring father. But it is obviously so much more at the same time.

God transcends gender. God doesn’t need or want the “label” of masculine or feminine. “I am who am.” (Exodus 3:14) God just IS.

I don’t think Father Todd was saying it was heretical to refer to God as our Father or as “He” in prayer. But was just reminding us of the fact that God truly is everything to us- we need not try to gender “Him”. And to try to gender Him beyond the relationship of we have with Him as Father/Child is the error.
[/quote]

and then the last comment for the thread in response to the above post on God’s “gender”:

[quote=Psalm90]I worked with a Baptist gentleman who graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. We had many conversations about the Bible. He was always trying to make end runs around me, strangely, even when I agreed with him.

But, he liked to keep a certain rule in mind, he told me, and that was to always be agreeing with what it says in the Bible. I think every Catholic ought to be able to agree with that statement, and, therefore, to be able to pray to God our Father.

God created gender and He declared that it was good. Judeo-Christian beliefs are somehow trumped by gender? That’s not Christianity, folks.

We should not let feminism, or over-reactions to feminism, unplug our faith, beliefs, and tradition.
[/quote]

[quote=psalm90]I worked with a Baptist gentleman who graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. We had many conversations about the Bible. He was always trying to make end runs around me, strangely, even when I agreed with him.

But, he liked to keep a certain rule in mind, he told me, and that was to always be agreeing with what it says in the Bible. I think every Catholic ought to be able to agree with that statement, and, therefore, to be able to pray to God our Father.
[/quote]

I can agree here, but I’m still not sure what your point is.

God created gender and He declared that it was good. Judeo-Christian beliefs are somehow trumped by gender? That’s not Christianity, folks.

Who said gender trumped anything? My comment was that God transcends gender. In other words- God passes beyond the limitations of gender. It has no meaning to God, He IS.

Obviously He gave us genders on Earth to better fulfill His missions. And those genders ARE good and an necessary part of humanity. And so that we better understand what God is to us- he gave himself the name FATHER/DADDY, and all the meaning that holds for us… AND MORE.

We should not let feminism, or over-reactions to feminism, unplug our faith, beliefs, and tradition

:confused:

God transcends gender. Both male and female were made in God’s image. For sake of grammatical simplicity, I usually use the masculine singular pronoun when referring to God, but in no way do I mean this to indicate that God is more male or only male; such a reference would insult the reference to God.

Throughout history God has been referred to as father, but it is also true that historically people use to believe that all creative power rested in the sperm and that women were only incubators for creation; not active contributors.

I agree with the theologians who argue that Jesus used the term father to attribute a personal relationship to God as a loving creator, and that it was not the intent to reduce God to the personhood of only a glorified male figure.

:amen:

:blessyou:

[quote=serendipity]Throughout history God has been referred to as father, but it is also true that historically people use to believe that all creative power rested in the sperm and that women were only incubators for creation; not active contributors.
[/quote]

it is not just that god has been referred to as “father”, but that he has referred to himself in that way.

the symbolism is not arbitrary, but neither does it imply that god is, in and of himself, somehow “male”.

[quote=serendipity]I agree with the theologians who argue that Jesus used the term father to attribute a personal relationship to God as a loving creator, and that it was not the intent to reduce God to the personhood of only a glorified male figure.
[/quote]

taken in one sense, this is an unobjectionable observation; taken another way, though, and i think it’s inaccurate.

the best book i’ve come across on this is by a dominican theologian, benedict ashley - Justice in the Church: Gender and Participation.

if you are at all interested in the theology of gender symbolism in catholicism, then this is essential reading.

**+JMJ+

Well, let’s see,

Jesus, one part of the Holly Trinity, is a man and “he” is in fact God.

The Holy Spirit, the 2nd part of the Holy Trinity, spoke to Moses and many prophets and when they describe their conversation with God, he (God) is refer to as “He” not "She”.

The third part of the Holy Trinity, God in Heaven, Jesus refers to as “My Father”.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer, when we were told how to pray is -"Our Father…(not “Our Mother”)

I could be wrong, but I believe all of this point’s to a male God.

In the name of the Father (male) and of the Son (male) and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

**

**+JMJ+

Well, let’s see,

Jesus, one part of the Holly Trinity, is a man and “he” is in fact God.

The Holy Spirit, the 2nd part of the Holy Trinity, spoke to Moses and many prophets and when they describe their conversation with God, he (God) is refer to as “He” not "She”.

The third part of the Holy Trinity, God in Heaven, Jesus refers to as “My Father”.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer, when we were told how to pray is -"Our Father…(not “Our Mother”)

I could be wrong, but I believe all of this point’s a male God.

In the name of the Father (male) and of the Son (male) and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

**

+JMJ+


**(Edited version of my first Post)

Well, let’s see,

The first part of the Holy Trinity, (The Father) God in Heaven, Jesus refers to as “My Father” (male).

The second part of the Holy Trinity, (The Son) Jesus, is a man and “He” is in fact God (male).

The 3rd part of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, spoke to Moses and many prophets and when they describe their conversation with God, He (God) is refer to as “He” “Him” and Himself” (male), not "She” ”her” or “Herself”.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer, when we were told how to pray is -"Our Father… (Not “Our Mother” - male)

I could be wrong, but I believe all of this point’s a male God.

In the name of the Father (male) and of the Son (male) and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.**


(typo’s drive me nut’s)

Genesis 2:7 / 2:18-24**
**

**7 ****the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. **


**18 ** **The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” **

**19 ** **So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. **

**20 ** **The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. **

**21 ** **So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. **

**22 ** **The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, **

**23 **** the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” **

**24 ** **That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. **

[quote=john doran]it is not just that god has been referred to as “father”, but that he has referred to himself in that way.

[/quote]

God also refers to himself/herself as female in several Bible passages as well. Particularly throughout Isaiah and Hosea, God is portrayed as a mother. Job and Psalms too has references of God as mother. The parable told by Jesus of the woman searching for a lost coin in Luke is a feminine fo version of God to balance the masculine shepherd image.I Matt God is described as a mother hen. The list goes on and on, and it seems repetitive to list each and every occurrence.

People who claim that God is male and only male do not seem to have much knowledge of the Bible; they must read it with the perspective closed and seeking not to know about God as a whole, but only to find proof of the God they already created in their own mind. To say that God refers to himself as male is only half of the story and erroneous.

The Hebrew word for “begot” is gender neutral and its Enlgish translation can refer to male activity of being fathered or female activity of mothering, and the preference for itnerpreters through the ages (who have been predominantly male) has to be use the masculine form where ever possible.

And the concept of a masculine holy spirit is highly debateable. I would also argue irrelevant, since God’s nature transcends genders. This is debated at length on another thread but to sum here, as this is an etension of the depth of God’s gender issues: Holy Spirit (in Hebrew, feminine; in Greek, neuter) is often associated with women’s functions: the birthing process (Jn. 3:5; Jn. 1:13, 1 Jn. 4:7b, 5:1, 4, 18), consoling, comforting, an eschatological groaning in travail of childbirth, emotional warmth, and inspiration. Some ancient church traditions refer to the Holy Spirit in feminine terms (the Syriac church used the feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit until ca. 400 C.E.; a 14th c. fresco depicting the Trinity at a church near Munich, Germany images the Holy Spirit as feminine).

I think Jesus’s use of the term “father” was necessary because of the patriarchical times and scientific limitations of their uadience’s understanding, in order to make his audience comprehend that they have a relationship with God that is personal, but they still owe authority to God (this relationship would not be so authoritative if a feminine form the deity was used), and that God created us because with love, (again, if a feminine form were used in this scenario it would not convey the power of God as a loving creator, because the people of the time only believed that males created).

We are commanded to read the scriptures in reference to the cultural and histrorical background of the time in which the story occurred. In Jesus’ time, women had very little authority in society, and were not considered anything more than incubators, with no power of even basic biological creation.

Jesus likewise had to born male due to the time perod, because the word of a woman would not have carried much weight in a society where women did not have rights or authoritty.

Personally, I feel more comforted by the image of a paternal God, because my father didn’t really do much in the way of paternal help (the concept of God as father and Mary as mother provides much more emoptional wieght to me), but that being said, to reduce God to only maleness is to create a God in the image that suits me, rather than seek to know more about the deeper truth of God’s all encompassng power, as examined by theologians like Elizabeth Johnson. Julian of Norwhich and Gertrude of Helfta, also worte much about the feminine aspects of the divine; God as a nurturing mother.

By Serendipity

God also refers to himself/herself as female in several Bible passages as well. Particularly throughout Isaiah and Hosea, God is portrayed as a mother. Job and Psalms too has references of God as mother. The parable told by Jesus of the woman searching for a lost coin in Luke is a feminine fo version of God to balance the masculine shepherd image. I Matt God is described as a mother hen. The list goes on and on, and it seems repetitive to list each and every occurrence.

People who claim that God is male and only male do not seem to have much knowledge of the Bible; they must read it with the perspective closed and seeking not to know about God as a whole, but only to find proof of the God they already created in their own mind. To say that God refers to himself as male is only half of the story and erroneous.

This is incorrect. God never refers Himself as female. Yes, certain metaphors are used in describing certain attributes about God. But, the pronoun “He” is retained. Because God is referred to as an “eagle…” Do we have a right to address him as a “Bird”? Because in Matthew God is described as a mother hen, can we refer to him as a “Chicken”? However, when Jesus is talking about “mother hen” He is in no way giving the image of God. “ …you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you? How often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused!” Jesus is referring to those that refuse to stay under Gods protection and trying to things their own way. Notice in DT 34 the metaphors “rock” and “eagle” are used but the pronoun “he” is used. Nowhere in scripture is the pronoun “she” used to describe God. I am a male but people used to say I was a good mother because of the way I used to take care of my son when he was born, but nobody ever call me a “she”.
In the book of Wisdom, wisdom is attributed to the Holy Spirit and is referred to as ‘she’ but that is only used in a rhetorical sense. The word “Church” is referred to as “she” because from the word ‘ecclesia’ (sp) which is a feminine word. It is the same with “wisdom”

I have no problem whatsoever with metaphors being used in describing the attributes of God. We know that God has no gender, is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit (CCC 370). However, simply because there are some feminine attributes describing God, and even though we can use images of God that express motherhood (CCC 239), no
feminine pronouns are ever used in scripture to identify God.

Cardinal Ratzinger states in his book “The Ratzinger Report” “.many catechists no longer teach the Catholic faith in its harmonic wholeness-where each truth presupposes and explains the other-rather they try to make some elements of the Christian patrimony humanly ‘interesting’ (according to the cultural orientations of the moment)” and also “Christianity is not a philosophical speculation; it is not a construction of our mind. Christianity is not ‘our’ work; it is a Revelation; it is a message that has been consigned to us, and we have no right to reconstruct it as we like or choose. The symbolism employed by Jesus is irreversible; it is based on the same Man-God relationship he came to reveal to us.” (Emphasis mine)

I personally believe that the feminist vision of God is in error and I know the
Church does not approve it. It is simply a desire of new age feminism to change the Truth in the Bible to inclusive language and the Vatican has not approved that change. Also that opens up the door to same sex marriages since God doesn’t care since He is neither male nor female, so lesbianism and homosexuality must be OK. And you are in error to think that WE have created God in our own mind. It is those that reject what God has revealed about “HIMSELF” that are creating God in their own minds. I am sorry that your father didn’t do much in a way of paternal help, but that is more the reason to refer to God as our Father so that young children who suffer from fatherly abuse can see what a real father is like and model themselves in a fatherly way and grow up to be real fathers to their children.

God in the very first commandments said “I am the LORD your God….”. He didn’t just say “I am God” or “I am the lady your God. The word lord is never used to identify a woman…-contd-

–contd

I think Jesus’ use of the term “father” was necessary because of the patriarchcal times and scientific limitations of their uadience’s understanding, in order to make his audience comprehend that they have a relationship with God that is personal, but they still owe authority to God (this relationship would not be so authoritative if a feminine form the deity was used), and that God created us because with love, (again, if a feminine form were used in this scenario it would not convey the power of God as a loving creator, because the people of the time only believed that males created).

To say that Jesus’ used the term “father" because of the patriarchal times is also incorrect. Jesus went against the times. Note when He spoke to the Samaritan ‘woman’. Note that He appeared to women first when He rose. Note that in all the pagan lands around in that era there were many female deities. When asked by his apostles to teach them to pray Jesus could very easily have said ‘My parent, who art in heaven…” or “My God who art in heaven…” He was very specific. How dare we go against what Jesus has taught us? Besides I have a great and perfect family. God is my “father”, Jesus is my “brother” and Mary is my “mother”.

It’s a simple syllogism:

Jesus is male.
Jesus is God.
God is male.

Is this simplifying it too much?

genesis- yes it is. Yes, Jesus is God, but he is a separate person from God the Father. Although they are one, they are not interchangeable. The Father transcends gender.

jimmyb- you are in error, and out of line with the teachings of the Church. CCC 370- In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband. God is NOT a male, although He has revealed Himself in masculine terms.

serendipity- to say that God was revealed as Father because of society seems to make sense, but it totally usurps God’s power. Where in Scripture did God/Jesus limit Himself based on society? I believe He died because he refused to conform to society. And Jesus could not be a man simply because of society. This is a total reduction of the meaning of gender. I strongly suggest you get in a good study of the Theology of the Body, so as to understand what gender truly is. Also, you would do well to study Mulieris Dignitatem, to learn what it means to be female.

God NEVER reveals himself as mother, bride, sister, etc. He compares some of His qualities to women. Big difference, compared to: “For your maker is your HUSBAND, the Lord of hosts is His name” (Is 54:5a); “Our FATHER in Heaven, hallowed be your name” (Mt 6:9); “MY FATHER, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (26:39); “you have one FATHER, He who is in Heaven” (MT 23:9), etc. etc. Very different than “the kingdom in heaven is LIKE a woman…”, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you”, “AS a hen gathers her chicks”.

[quote=jp2fan]gI strongly suggest you get in a good study of the Theology of the Body, so as to understand what gender truly is. Also, you would do well to study Mulieris Dignitatem, to learn what it means to be female.

[/quote]

I have a full grasp of what gender is, depsite the fact that it may not correlate perfectly with your comprehension of the term.

In regards to Mulieris Dignitatem, I have studied it and it is nothing but empty words, like so many papal writing. Good intentions, no doubt. Funny, how hopeful one is when such documents come out. My experience has been that women remain largely neglected by the church, even those who are trying to discern and fulfill vocations within the church’s guidelines. If a male says he feels a call every one jumps in the hope he might become a priest. If a woman has the same question, she has to call people across the country begging people for information before anyone will even talk to her to help her sort out her options. Who cares what the Pope writes, when no one puts it into practice?

God revealed himself as a bush too, so if the form of revelation is exclusively important than maybe we should be debating not only gender, but whether God is more male or vegetable.

The Da Vinci Code clearly states that God is a boy and He has a girlfriend. Case closed. :rotfl:

+JMJ+

jp2fan

Regular Member

Your Response-

Your Response-

Today, 06:13 PM #[font=Arial]14 [/font]

jimmyb- you are in error, and out of line with the teachings of the Church. CCC 370- In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband. God is NOT a male, although He has revealed Himself in masculine terms

Re: God’s Gender

jp2fan,


I never wrote God in man’s image.”

**If you are referring to my post ( #9 - attached-below)., That isn’t me talking. All I posted were bible verses, nothing else. ( Genesis 2:7 / 2:18-24 ). **


**I didn’t mention **“God in man’s image.” In my other post ( #8 - attached-below) either?

I was simply stating fact’s;


[list]
*]Jesus referred to God as “Father”.
[/list]**Example **

Mark 14:36

He (Jesus) said, “Abba, Father, 12 all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.”

Webster’s Dictionary****

Main Entry: 1fa·ther
Pronunciation: 'fä-th]&r, ‘f[a’]-
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English *fader, *from Old English *fæder; *akin to Old High German *fater *father, Latin *pater, *Greek patEr
1 a : a man who has begotten a child; also **: **SIRE 3 b capitalized (1) **: **GOD 1 (2) : the first person of the Trinity
2 **: **FOREFATHER
3 a : one related to another in a way suggesting that of father to child b : an old man – used as a respectful form of address

[list]
*]Jesus, I don’t think your disputing the fact that he was a man? Jesus is God.
[/list]

Response to jp2fan from JimmyB (continued)

John 1:1-

  1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

  2. He was in the beginning with God.

  3. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be

  4. through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

  5. the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


Genisis 2:3


3… So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.

Holy Spirit, Moses spoke to God in the form of the Holy Spirit, Here is how Moses decribes God as the Holy Spirit:****

Exodus 15:1-2**

  1. Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: I will sing to the LORD, for **he **is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

  2. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. He is my God, I praise him;

Exodus 19:18**-20**

  1. Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.

  2. The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God answering him with thunder.

20 .When the LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai, he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up to him.

Exodos33:19-23

  1. Then Moses said, “Do let me see your glory!”

  2. He answered, "I will make all my beauty pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce my name, ‘LORD’; I who show favors to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will.

20 .But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives.

  1. Here," continued the LORD, "is a place near me where you shall station yourself on the rock.

  2. When my glory passes I will set you in the hollow of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

  3. Then I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back; but my face is not to be seen."

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