Masculine titles for God

I am a faithful Catholic who loves the church. I would just like to discuss the use of masculine titles for God. Why is it seen as offensive to address God in feminine terms? I appreciate that the son came to us as a man, Jesus and he taught us to call God father or Abba (daddy). But as the creator is God not also Mother? I find the scriptures that describe God in feminine terms (Psalm 131 I think is one) very comforting. I can relate to God in both male and female terms.

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies.

I think it stems from tradition Kindness and previous contact with God. Jesus himself was of male form and prior to his coming God the father always spoke of himself in male terms. There might be the occasional exception but thus far God has made it clear he likes to be thought of and addressed with male honorifics.

I think Rosemary Radford Ruether wrote extensively on this, but to my knowledge most of her work has been rejected as inflammatory radical feminism by the Church (that and despite being a Catholic Theologian she’s an avid supporter of womens ordination and caused a bit of a stir when she began addressing God as “Gaia”).

Only the second person of the Trinity has gender in our human terms. Jesus is a man. Nothing the feminist Catholics can do about that. He referred to God the Father in a male term. The Spirit has never been given gender specific titles and as such reminds us that as God, God is a spirit who became a human man in Its second person.

As long as one honours God in whatever title you give him I see no wrong in emphasizing God’s qualities we find reflected most securely in His Blessed Mother.

If you want to call God Jane
or even “Mother Goosie”
Then you must call the devil
by her first name…Lucy

I am not looking for anything radical, my question is a sincere one. Thank you for at least attempting to converse on this topic.


I think that I would assert that there’s a difference between ascribing qualities seen as ‘feminine’ to God, and calling God by feminine names. To say that God nurtures us as a mother nurtures her child is one thing; to refer to God as a ‘she’ is a different matter.

God (himself!) self-refers in masculine terms. As spirit, God is clearly not physically gendered; yet, there is something about God that causes him to self-identify as ‘father’. Therefore, having given us witness to this description in the Bible, how might we suggest to deviate from his own Word and call him ‘mom’?

I’d be leary of calling God the Father as feminine, because Jesus called him our Father.
As a spirit I don’t think our gender identies apply but why the need to go against convention in the face of Jesus words.
Beware of the voice in our hearts that contends with the Tradition and teachings of the Church. That way of thinking lead me away from the church for a while. You don’t want to go there.
I pour my heart out to my Mother Mary the Mother of God when I feel the need for a feminine ear, which is often.

This, expanded upon here:

A wise post.

Why do we want to call things or people by other names, is it our foolish nature that is never content, or a stiff necked people , why do we want to call our Dad = mummy, and mummy =Dad.

Christ has spoken and that is that, " I am who Am" says the O/T. Christ loved his Mother and called her that , nothing else.

Lets not worry about what is not, but rather worry about “Lucy” !

That’s great, where did it come from?:stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, we can see and appreciate feminine aspects in God.

The reason why it is offensive to call God by feminine names, however (like “heavenly mother” or some such) is that this takes away from the personal nature of God.

If God is Father one moment and Mother the next moment, then, in our minds, God is no longer a person but merely an idea that can constantly change and is merely relative to the whims of the moment. We would never call an individual person “father” one day and “mother” the next—it would not make any sense. Such a one could never be either Father or Mother; because these aspects of a person are simply not subject to change.

The other problem with calling God “Mother” is that doing this implies that Christ was wrong for calling God “Father.” It’s human arrogance at its worst to say that Christ was wrong, and we are going to “fix” what He said.

I would like to take credit for it, but it came from a Lutheran minister who was getting tired of all the feminism/masculine stuff about God.

I don’t remember exactly how the little poem goes so I took some artistic leeway. I would really like to find the original.

The point is there is really no gender with spiritual beings. Some of us silly humans find it necessary to attribute these limiting human factors to the gods we worship.

For some real enlightenment, ask your guardian angel for “her” opinion.

I didn’t delve into it to verify, but it appears to be a Baptist site:

I have in my hands an editorial letter to the editor, some of the letters to the editor of The Wall Street Journal which a couple of years ago published an article entitled “The Lord’s Name” on page one and it had to do with women…The article was written by Gustav Niebuhr, and one of the replies to it was made by the General Council of the Christian Life Convention of the Southern Baptist Convention… and he framed his answer in poetry. He said, “Gus Niebuhr did not make me doubt that God is not a he, but he surely made me wonder if the devil is a she. If they can call God Mother Earth or even Mother Goosey, then why don’t they change Lucifer to something soft like Lucy?

I like your version better.

Hey…you found it.

I have been Googling all over to find it.

Thank you if you like mine better. :slight_smile:

What’s even more interesting, IMO, is the Christian idea that the feminine is not present in the divine. There is, at best, the unfortunate necessity for God the father to select a mother for His human child. Even then, the feminine (as it happens to be human) would normally be evil, were it not for God the Father’s intervention to “clean” our Holy Mother. It would seem then to justify the way women are to be treated on Earth by Christians. I.E., ranked last within the Church, and so too, ranked last within the home. In that sense one begins to wonder why the feminine exists at all, since in Heaven the masculine is sufficient, but on Earth it is not fully sufficient but merely supreme.

The above is not my personal opinion.

My rudementary level of understanding on this topic seems to point to the fact that the writers of holy scripture, as far as my limited understanding allows, were all men.

“All men” seems to be a big religious theme, though it is just as often the qualitative rather than the quantitative. It’s crucial to remember that most world religions are hangovers from a time when women were treated as subhuman as a rule, not an exception. Of course this continues today in many places, though most world religions have changed a bit to mitigate this. Some haven’t.

There’s a difference between metaphors and similies. While God is not male Scripture most suitably employs male metaphors for Him, while on occasion employing female similies for Him. There is a basic distinction between the two, with “simile/comparing (mother) and metaphor/naming (father), and the meanings they convey. . .Whereas similies compare, metaphors predicate or NAME [emphasis mine],” “Language for God and Feminist Language, a Literary and Rhetorical Analysis,” Roland Mushat Frye, Interpretation, A Journal of Bible and Theology.

Perverting the metaphor corrupts the Catholic understanding of Creation. God is not some sort of pantheistic earth-mother, but the Living God Whose own prerogative - not any necessity - initiated all Creation while not being a part of that Creation (until the Second Person becomes Man). Thus the usage of metaphoric male as the Initiator, not the receptor (woman) of Creation (which is feminine in relation to Him - as is the Church to Christ).

First, I’m not sure it is necessarily viewed as ‘offensive’.

Second, the origin of the masculine gender as reference, is Judaic, and stems from the principle of ‘fatherhood’, in turn, stemming from the cocept/principle of ‘first cause’;

Third, attempting to ‘sexualize’ God, or to project upon God, a gender–essentially a restriction–is essentially a species of ‘anthropomorphism’, as God, the Creator, the First Cause of everything, can not be bound by any sex or gender.

Fourth, when God created Man, He created him in His image–and that extends to woman (Man and Woman, were both, created in His image–there is simply no biblical or Traditional basis to counter this–at least none that I’m aware of, anyway).

Frankly, I am not aware of any express prohibition against referring to God, in the feminine, or even any patent offense to be inferred therefrom, without any other malice to support offensive intent.

That said however, we use the masculine pronoun out of respect, first, and secondly, out of convenience.

Respect first, because to refer to God as ‘Father’, or ‘The Father,’ or ‘Abba’, is to respect and imitate Christ, for this is how Christ addressed God–and how Christ taught us to address Him–hence ‘the Lord’s Prayer’ begins, with a respectful and affectionate approach: “Our Father” (by which we also refer to the prayer). Also, because the ‘Sonship of Christ’, the 2nd person of the Trinity, was revealed to us, in terms of a ‘Father-Son’ relationship. Hence we respect both the First and Second persons of the Trinity, by respecting the terminology and frame of reference, they bequeathed to us.

NB: while emulating this is indeed a sign of respect and reverence, it does not necessarily follow, that to deviate from that, is to show disrespect. But it would certainly appear to be more respectful, and more reverential, to respect that paradigm.

…and out of convenience, for obvious reasons, amongst which are: it is much more consistent with scripture; it has been practiced for centuries, and is deeply engrained in our psyche, and in our Tradition; and it fits the frame work of a family, in that the Church is the bride of Christ–and Christ therefore, the ‘Bridegroom’ (i.e. masculine); Mary, the Queen of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, her spouse (again, masculine); Christ came to establish His ***King***dom (masculine); Christ, the Holy Spirit, and ‘the Father’, are all One, and all referred to in the masculine, and all occupy masculine ‘roles’, in numerous typologies, frameworks, analogies, metaphors, allegories, etc, etc, throughout the Bible, Sacred Tradition, etc…

Hence it would be highly inconvenient, and counter-productive, to go against the grain, when the grain is so layered, in the same direction–ie–referring to God, in the masculine.

CAVEAT: This is not authoritative, and I make no claim or pretense to authority here–just my humble opinion. As always, I welcome correction, to my posts–just some times, such as here, it warrants posting a caveat–lest anyone should mistake my post for something more than it is–one humble believer’s take.

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