Is God more like a man, or a woman, or genderless? The traditional belief is that God is masculine. However, if God is supernatural then why should he have a gender? Why would God have a form, such as that of a man? This question causes us to think about the nature of God as revealed to us in the bible.
Of course God is not a literal man. He is not a carbon based life form of any species or gender. God cannot be a member of any species, because nothing created him (see What Created God?). God has no parents or peers of any kind. He had no beginning and has no end.
God is the alpha and omega, "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me" (Isaiah 43.10 KJV bible).
If God is all powerful then he can have any form or nature he wants. So then why does God have a particular form? Perhaps God is a formless energy like a cloud. Perhaps God is more like a repeating pattern, such as a fractal or a perfect circle. Why would an eternal and perfect God be recognizable to us?
Yet in scripture, God is described as having a recognizable form. God has eyes, and hands, along with a voice, a face, and a body. This form of God is more like the appearance of man than other creations such as plants and insects. This form of God is part of the divine nature.
The form of God exists, "And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen" (Exodus 33:21-23 KJV bible).
We know God has an image and form, but what makes him masculine? If God is not a flesh man, then what makes him more man-like than woman-like? Could this be an interpretation that isn't justified? Could this interpretation have come from us being uncomfortable with a feminine God?
One reason we know God is masculine comes from the order of creation. The bible tells us flesh man was created first, and then after this the woman came from the man (Genesis 2.21-23). So the feminine nature of the woman came after the creation of man. While the man and the woman were both made in the image of God (Genesis 1.27), the creation of man was more direct.
We must also understand that many languages have masculine and feminine genders in them. Languages express masculine and feminine differences within words. Many words (even ones that have little to do with gender) can be understood as being either masculine or feminine. Masculine and feminine gender is built into biblical Greek and Hebrew, as well as Latin based languages.
If this seems hard to understand, then consider the English language. In English we say her book or his book, not its book. We also say brother vs. sister and Mr. vs Mrs. These are some examples of how our language changes depending on whether the subject is masculine or feminine.
The biblical languages are more gender intensive than English. In the biblical text, God himself always has a masculine gender. God isn't called "it" or "she", but "he". God has many different names and titles in the bible, and they are masculine. God, along with the actions he takes are masculine. God's nature, as revealed to us in the language of the bible, is male rather than female.
Most people will recognize that there are differences between men and women. There are physical differences as well as emotional differences. These differences lead to the different gender roles that exist. When we consider God in the bible, we see that his role is more like that of a man than a woman.
There are, of course, reproductive differences between men and women. We know, that in the act of copulation, the man acts upon the women. He acts upon the woman, and by him she conceives. The body of the woman is the place that allows conception to occur by the body of the man.
In scripture, we find something similar in the way God acts upon the creation. Like a man, God fertilizes and brings about changes in the world. God creates and brings to pass, and causes the world to conceive. However, God himself doesn't conceive. God acts upon and changes the world, but he remains the same.
God acts upon his creation, "Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them" (Psalms 104:5-8 KJV bible).
We know that men tend to be larger and stronger than women. Because of this they traditionally take on the role of warrior and defender. In scripture, we find that God takes on this role. God is described as being strong, fierce, and indomitable. God strikes fear into the hearts of his enemies, and there is no shelter from his wrath.
"For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence" (Isaiah 59:17-18 KJV bible).
There are also emotional differences between men and women. Men tend to be more rigid and resolute in their purposes than women. More often men are the ones who practice tough love, and discipline children. God certainly fits within this role as well.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:19 KJV bible). "For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished" (Jeremiah 30:11 KJV bible).
In Christ, God takes on the role of a perfect father, who we learn to appreciate. Because God is our spiritual father he intercedes in certain ways in our lives. God instructs us, disciplines us, and provides for our needs.
God is a spiritual father to believers, "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" (Hebrews 12:9 KJV bible), "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:11-13 KJV bible).
God himself isn't a flesh person, but his spiritual nature is more like a man than a woman. We find that God is a husband, father, and provider, and these are all traditional roles of men. The different ways that God relates to his people, are like how a perfect father relates to his family. It's over time that a family appreciates the guidance that a father can give.
If God is more like a man, then some might believe that men are spiritually closer to God. However, being a man doesn't make us more pleasing to God. We might be more similar in some ways, but this doesn't bring us into communion with God. Even with good intentions, our place in the world is corrupted by our fallen nature. In any role we've been given, we fall short of the righteousness of God.
In the end, our own gender isn't fundamental to salvation. Being born as a man or a woman doesn't give someone a better path of salvation. Part of salvation is knowing our place, and being servants of God. Coveting the place of someone else is a sin that leads to death, but submission to God's will is a path of life and peace.
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