Unleavened Brett

Brett’s Friday Blog Post

UB Jun 14

Is God really male?

For this Father’s Day, I’d like to point out that the God of the Bible is very different than the gods of the pagans. Not only do we have one God compared to the many gods of their religions, but our God is referred to as “Father.” Not so in pagan religions. They had at least two gods–a male & a female. The Egyptians had Isis & Osiris; the Babylonians had Apsu & Tiamat; the Greeks had Zeus & Hera.

They couldn’t conceive of a god without a goddess because they thought of everything as procreated, not created from nothing. Goddess worship with many fertility cults was prevalent in the ancient world. Buddhism & Hinduism also feature many goddesses. Even the Jews fell into this kind of idolatry when they set up Ashtoreth poles to worship the Canaanite goddess.

But this wasn’t just a primitive phenomenon; it’s prevalent in modern pagan thought too, exemplified by “Mother Nature,” occultic spiritualism & witchcraft. With the emergence of Second-wave feminism in the ‘60s & ‘70s, an effort was made to take the hard edge off its secular & Marxist thought with some spirituality mixed in. This meant promoting a feminized deity (“Mother”) & rejecting the biblical God who revealed Himself in masculine pronouns & roles.

This worldview crept into much of Christianity as well through liberalism, staying connected to the Bible, but rejecting & revising its teaching & language to suit feminist theology. While biblical Christians reject much of the radical ideology that’s incompatible with Scripture, many have still been seduced into accepting “egalitarian” views which repudiate biblical teachings about gender roles as simply cultural or outdated.

The only reason why biblical Christians know God in masculine terms is because he has revealed himself that way. But is God really a male? God is Spirit (John 4:24), transcending material form & human confinements. But this doesn’t mean God is an “it.” That would be inconsistent with personhood. God is a real person, not just some cosmic force or metaphysical principle. But attempts to justify referring to God as “she” are an affront to Scripture.

God’s primary roles are masculine–King, Head, Leader, Provider & Protector. But more personally, he is “Father.” He’s not only Creator, Ruler, Redeemer, Almighty Most High Lord & King; he’s our Father. When he did incarnate on earth, it was in the body of a male–the Son, Jesus (John 3:16). To be the “Son” meant He was of the same substance–just as divine as the “Father” (John 10:30, 5:17-18, 19:7).

Genesis doesn’t say God created only man in his image; rather Gen 1:27 says, “So God created man [generic species, not sex] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male & female created them”. So God created both genders in his image which means that his image has nothing to do with sex. Both Adam & Eve were referred to as “man,” or perhaps a better translation would be “human.”

But the man had a different role. God made Adam first, & let him name the woman, establishing him as head–provider & protector. Though Eve sinned first, God held Adam accountable. With the birth of children, the Patriarchal lineage was established (as seen in all the genealogical lists). Men were given the leadership role by virtue of being created first & not sinning first (1 Cor. 11:3, 7-9, 1 Tim. 2:12-14). This is why wives & children are called to defer to the head of the household, while Christians defer to Elders in the family of God (Eph. 5:22-6:4, Heb. 12:7-11, 1 Tim. 3:2-5, 1 Pet. 3:5-6).

This seems to be why God wants to be thought of in masculine terms–because He is to be honored, respected, & obeyed as leader. Although all people can be called God’s “children” by virtue of Creation, it’s only those who live by faith who are truly called His personal children by relationship. God cared as a Father for His people “Israel” in the Old Testament, but it was Jesus who gave prominence to God as Father (Ps. 103:13, 2 Cor. 6:18). Men & women equally become born again children adopted into His family through His only unique Son (John 1:12, Gal. 3:26, 4:6, Luke 11:13).

While many have strained or absent relationships with their earthly fathers, we can all have a close relationship with our heavenly Father. While we celebrate the importance of earthly fathers, we pray that they will strive to reflect our heavenly Father.