I have a question, that has been stimulated by some of the comments I got on my latest posts. The general question is: does God have a gender? And does it matter? To Him or to you? My thoughts are below, though I am also interested in other perspectives
Until recently, I would have answered with a resounding “yes”, God is masculine (though I don’t think I would have said that he was male) and that it does matter. The Bible portrays God as masculine, and there are several verses that spell out the difference between the two genders as far as roles in the church are concerned. God is the Father, Jesus was born male; pastors are also to be male. In the Old Testament as well as the New, God is always described as being representative of a masculine entity. Even in the marriage that is to come between Christ and the church, the church is always described as “the bride of Christ”.
When I started attending a Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Little Rock (and eventually Toronto), that view of God was challenged. They speak of God as having no gender: or at least no gender that matters. God includes qualities of the male and the female as a foundational part of His… or Her… being. I had to admit that my only reason for my belief in God being masculine… in God having a gender at all… was due to my experiences in Bible College. And that was rooted in a theology of thousands of years ago. Although I believe strongly in the authority and activity of the Scriptures, I also know that they were written for a particular time and place. The people in earlier times believed that God was masculine (if not male). God’s Word is in that context. We can understand the limitations of the culture and see beyond it to what God was really saying. That makes Scripture no less valid for us, but allows us to understand the concepts as they were seen back then and to apply them to situations today.
It’s funny, because my original answer to this question, long ago, would have been something to the effect of: “Yes God is male. And He doesn’t want there to be any confusion on the matter. He no more wants to be confused with a woman than I do.” I remember making statements like this: because when I was very young, I had long hair and a slight build, and I was mistaken for a girl several times. It was traumatic and influenced my outlook on life (and gender, and sexuality) for a long time. Only recently have I moved beyond it, and been able to see how it affected my understanding of gender for decades. One of the reasons I did not want to “come out” for a long time was that I did not want to threaten my own masculinity: after a while I realized that sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender. Now I can enjoy my relationships with both genders equally, although they are not the same. I can see how elements of each can apply in my own life, as well as seeing reflections of them in God.
This post was originally published on Gather.com, and is reproduced here (primarily to try to keep my writing in one spot).