Is God masculine?
Some have thought that because God is referred to by masculine
pronouns that He is male. But the Bible teaches that God is spirit and
has no gender. So why then is God referred to as a "He"?
The reason why God is translated as a "He" in English is because in
Hebrew nouns have only two genders: masculine and feminine. Now it is
a mistake to associate masculine nouns as necessarily meaning "male"
and feminine nouns as necessarily meaning "female." These two genders
are only two groupings of words; most male items tend to fall
into one grouping and most female items tend to fall into the
other grouping. For example, in Hebrew, body parts that come in
pairs (hands, eyes, etc) are typically feminine, whereas those
body parts that come as single (nose, back, etc) are masculine.
They have nothing at all to do with sex. "Elohiym,"
for example, is a masculine (note: NOT "male") noun.
Thus, because the nouns associated with God are masculine does
not necessarily imply that God is male anymore than the breast
of a woman is male (the Hebrew word for breast, shad, is a masculine
Nevertheless, to accurately translate the Hebrew and be true to the
original the "he" is retained. It is clear in the Scriptures that God
is neither male nor female; but to render God in English in the neuter
(which Hebrew does not posses) would tend to give a false impression
of God being an impersonal "it" and not a person. So I suppose in
the best of all possible worlds "God" should have His
own category which is neither masculine, feminine, or neuter.
Perhaps we could call it the "divine" gender? I suppose
the capitalization of "He" provides such a gender. But
we are dealing with human language - so there we are. We have
to communicate to people and not create a new language.
However, it is not quite accurate to say that God is neither male nor
female. In a sense, male and female together represent God. That is,
when God created Adam and Eve they together represented His image:
"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created
him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:27)
"He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them
Man in the day when they were created." (Gen 5:2)
Individually the male and female are an incomplete image of
God. Together they represent God's image more clearly. Another aspect
of this topic is the similes and metaphors used in the Bible to
describe God. Figurative language in the Bible describes God in terms
of such things as a father (Deut 32:6; Matt 5:45), a mother (Isa
66:13; 1 Cor 3:1-2), a king (Isa 33:22; I Tim 1:17), and even as a
mother bird (Ps 36:7; Matt 23:37). It is important to realize that
these things reflect aspects of God's nature and not the other way
around. That is, fatherhood, motherhood, kingship, and the protective
nature of a hen for her chicks, among others, are partial images of
God's nature and relationship to us. None of them by themselves
describe the full picture. However, some images are more accurate
representations than others. Since man is made in God's image then
either a father or mother would present a better picture than a mother
But of all of the figurative images used to describe God the most
prevalent portray God in male roles: God as a husband to Israel,
Christ as a groom to the Church, and God depicted as "father. The
image of father is particularly prevalent with Jesus in the New
Testament. And this is another reason why God is thought of in
masculine terms. But why is this male image so deep-seated? Some
suggest that a male-dominated society artificially imposed and
promoted this image. But there is a less skeptical view that can be
taken. Though both male and female are together representative of God,
His relationship to humans seems to be primarily centered around a
fatherly relationship. It is important to realize that this in no way
detracts from that part of God that is reflected by the female. In the
Mosaic Law both the father and mother are to be honored by the
children (Ex 20:12); the fullness of God is honored and not just that
part that is reflected by the male. The emphasis of God in male roles
only indicates that God seems to relate and deal with humans in a way
that we see illustrated by male roles.
Many have thought it significant that the first use of the word "love"
in the Bible speaks of the love of a father for his son (Gen 22:2)
For more information on this topic see Lambert Dolphin's article "Made
in the Image of God" (http://ldolphin.org/Image.html).