Monday, February 6, 2012

Is God Male or Female?

God, is he male or female? If you read the Bible, all references to God are in the masculine form. Some have argued that this has more to do with the male chauvinism the time when it was written than an indication of what God is. Some people have attempted to rewrite the Bible in gender-neutral form. Some have even decided that God is a woman, as the author of The Shack did. The argument of some people is that since there is only one God, it doesn’t make sense to say whether he is male or female. And they have a point, if we look at gender as merely the two parts of the reproductive puzzle.

Before we decide whether God is male or female, let’s consider what it means to be male or female. Forget about the reproductive organs and the differences in appearance for a moment. Forget about the typically stronger nature of the male and the nurturing nature of the female. Let’s imagine that we have two beings that are blank slates. Essentially, they are equal in every way. Imagine that we can decide what traits they need later, but right now we have to decide which one is male and which one is female. When you think about it, that is the position God was in when he created the world. He could have made Adam look like Eve and Eve look like Adam, if that’s what he wanted to do. Before they were created, they were blank slates on which God could build the features he wanted them to have.

What then is it that distinguishes Adam from Eve? The true difference is not in the features they have, but in the order they were created. God created man first. Then, because man needed a helper, God created a woman because she came out of the man. Even if God had given Adam the features that we think of women having and Eve the features that we think of men having, the fact that Adam was created first would make him the man and Eve the woman. But God, in his wisdom, decided to give men the features he gave them and women the feature he gave them.

But what does that have to do with whether God is male or female? God can’t be a woman because he didn’t come out of anything. God is first. God is the first of all firsts. There was nothing before him. There was nothing from which he was created. God is male because he is the first of his kind.