If human beings are made in God's image & likeness, why do humans have gendered souls?



If human beings are made in God’s image & likeness, why do humans have gendered souls? If possible, please provide office Church teaching on the subject and what the Church Father’s had to say. I am trying to better understand and answer my friend’s objection below.

It seems the lack of understanding in how we are made as male and female have recently given rise to a new host of spiritual and cultural warfare fronts.

Thank you so much.

I shared:

We are male or female persons, and will continue to be so in heaven. We are not a duality but a unity of body and soul. Our souls do not inhabit our bodies but animate them by being the life principle of the body. But a soul with no body is an incomplete human. Thus, the resurrection. - forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=505376

it sounds blasphemous to say our souls have gender. I do not see a basis for how we could know if our souls have gender. God did create us male and female; however he did make us in his own image and God does not have a gender so our souls ought not to.


He’s already answered it without knowing it. We are created beings who have bodies as well as souls unlike God who is pure spirit. Jesus’ gender certainly is what it was when he was incarnated of the Virgin Mary–male, and will always be so. Jesus is both God and man. Ask him to explain that. :wink:


Our souls are not gendered the way our bodies are. They are gendered consciously, that is to say, your perception of selfhood is your soul, which, even when separated from the biology of the body, still holds either male or female personality. Your friend is right when he or she says that we do not bodily reflect the image of God, but he or she errs when they take this truth too literally and apply it to our souls. When we say that we are made in the image of God, we are not referring to our bodies. We are referring to our consciousness. We are rational, creative souls, who not only participle in His creation, but are aware of ourselves as individuals. God is not a body, He is being itself. Our souls are made in His image because we exist within our natural bodies, but our perception allows us to be both separate and a part of this body. Our awareness of ourselves as men and women is ingrained in our souls and is what activates our biology to work accordingly. When separated from the body, the soul, our consciousness, retains our perceptions, and therefore it can be said that while we will no longer be man or woman biologically speaking, we will still be man or woman through perception. This is all speculation, of course, there is no way any of us can know this for sure unless God wills us to, but this is my take on it.


Our souls are gendered because they are the souls of our bodies!

Gender is intrinsic to human bodyhood.

The image of God resides in our human soul/cognitive mind. But that mind is made for living life in a gendered body!



Everyone in this thread is making a cardinal error propogated by the homosexualist movement. We are talking about sex, not gender.

Gender is a grammatical term for the particular declension of a noun and its associated article and adjectives. Sex is a biological term for the quality of being male or female.

So I suppose that you could say that humans have gendered souls, because for example in Spanish the word for soul is alma, which is feminine gender. However even men have a feminine alma, but here we are speaking of how souls mimic the biological sex of a human being. So I don’t think that it is useful to bring “gender” into the conversation.


Here is what Bishop Fulton Sheen has to say on the subject:



How do you know SOULS are gendered ( I take it that you mean male/female)? Mk 12:25 says we are like angels, then the soul would be genderless (or transcend gender) since it is a spirit and it would be in the image/likeness of God. Since both male and female are in the image of God i.e. God is genderless (or transcend gender), the human soul would be too.

The main purpose of gender in the human body is for reproduction which is not possible in heaven or hell.


Except that gender in the human soma governs not just sexual behavior and procreation, but muscular strength, bodybuild, voice, the fine-tuning of the senses, and even the subtler nuances of the mind!

All of which, even more than the sexual behaviors, make us “us.”

The human soul is the soul **of the human body; **and irrespective of any intermediate states that may be required, will enter life eternal in that body.



Theology of the Body by St. Pope John Paul II is going to answer the OP’s question directly.

The very first talk of this series addresses Genesis 1:27 - male and female he created them - directly.




GREAT REPLIES!! Thank you for the links to Bishop Sheen and Theology of the Body…

I think I’ve heard Christopher west say sex is a noun. So it is probably better to use sex rather than gender when referring to being made male and female. I know there is a lot out there these days with regards to “homosexual” and “transsexual” behavior being used as labels to define a person as if they were created in such a way. I don’t believe people are born with these disorders. I know the Church doesn’t say how people came to struggle with them (nature, nurture, or both), but they are not suppose to act them out.


Then may be if the question were to describe the traits of masculinity or femininity of the soul, that would be interesting indeed. I have no clue. Anyone?

Just for academic discussion sake, homosexuals and transgender persons that were able to resist sinful acts despite their difficult position and entered heaven, what sexual disposition traits would the soul inherit then? Would the behavior of the souls reflect the physical condition of their bodies i.e. masculinity, femininity, etc in heaven? Shouldn’t heaven transcend all gender biases?

But perhaps in heaven souls do retain some of the traits such as vocals. Singing songs of praise to the Lord in a mix of male/female voices I think do enrich the audio performance. Other traits such as strength and body build seems to me “unnecessary” and “serve no purpose” over there.


Since there are bodies, there are bodybuilds in Heaven (there can be no body without a build, just as there can be no voice without a timbre, etc). Likewise, we will move around, so we will use our muscles.

I’d say that all bodily propensities not directly connected to sexual behavior will appear in the other life. And sexual behavior absent solely because our LORD ruled marriages out in that life.



We are made in God’s image because we have an intellect and a will; we are of God’s likeness when we are in a state of grace. God bless you.


We are doing a Theology of The Body Study… and people are questioning that our souls have a sex, Male and Female. They say only the body has a sex, but I told them we are body and soul, and that the soul animates the body.

Can someone please let me know where to find official Church teaching from the Fathers or other, that definitively says our souls are male and female? Please share a link or two. Thank you!


This is a good explanation from a very learned priest.


I feel our most deeply felt emotions must be our soul. Is this right? Rather than a scientific thing. I feel, if we weren’t created by God, and therefore would have no souls and would just be a type of species and nothing more, we would be empty shells and we wouldn’t have the emotions that we do have. I have always felt that our emotions, such as love and compassion, don’t come from our mind (brain) or our heart really, which is also a mere organ, but our spirit which is invisible and within us.
As for gender, we will be “reunited with our earthly bodies” at the end, so I place importance on it. We have each been made specially by Him, and our special qualities does include our gender. In the “image and likeness of God,” I have always believed this means as far as our souls and our ability to feel emotion goes.


Thank you for the link… I’ll check it out more, looking for official Church teaching, if there is one on the subject.

Don’t you think though that if our souls do not have a sex, “transsexuals” can make a case for being in the wrong body?

Also, what does it mean to be in God’s image and likeness specifically? I read someone posted to be in God image we have a will and intellect and in his likeness we need to be in the state of the grace. Is that accurate?


No. If our soul is genderless, then exactly what is it that a person might claim is “in the wrong body”? A soul, by definition, would be something without sexual characteristics. What, then, would they claim has been placed incorrectly?


The wrong body is impossible, whether or not souls have gender, strictly because we do not have a body; we are a body.

Each soul is made for a specific body.

Each body is grown around a specific soul.

So the wrong body cannot happen. (Not all gender-dissatisfied persons claim to have the wrong body, anyway.)



You are the image and likeness of God even if you fall into sin.

The image of God is the mind/soul and, for its expression, requires the body.


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