Q&A: God's Gender

God's Gender

Question

Is God a male, female, both or neither? And if God is not a particular sex, then why does Jesus refer to him in the masculine "Abba" or "Father"?

Answer

God is not male, or female, or both. All these categories mark reproductive attributes, and God does not reproduce. In some sense then, he can be called "neither." However, in the Bible he presents himself most often as male (i.e. God the Father), and the Biblical writers themselves always refer to him as male. At the same time, it is important to remember that God's true being transcends our ability to comprehend him. The Bible's language is accommodated to our poor ability to understand his infinitude and incomprehensibility. Thus, "Father" and other "male" designations for God are really just metaphors to help us understand our relationship to him. In fact, sometimes the Bible also uses female metaphors to describe God and his relationship to us. Jesus called God "Father" and "Abba" because those designations best described his relationship to God the Father, and because these were traditional Jewish designations for God. "Father" was and is a helpful way to indentify God because it implies certain things about his character, and about his relationship with his children. (We might compare the portrayal of God as a Shepherd and his people as his sheep.)

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.