Since God is not male, should we stop using masculine pronouns to refer to God?Question: "Since God is not male, should we stop using masculine pronouns to refer to God?"
Answer: We know that God is a spiritual being. Strictly speaking, He does not have a gender. However God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity using masculine pronouns and imagery. In the Bible, God does not refer to Himself using gender-neutral terms; He uses masculine terms. Since God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity in language that specifies the masculine gender, we can and should refer to Him in similar language. There is no biblical reason to stop using masculine pronouns to refer to God.
From the very start in the Bible, God refers to Himself using masculine pronouns: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). God refers to Himself from the beginning in masculine terms. Ancient Hebrew had no grammatically neutral-gender pronouns, so all items were intentionally given a grammatical gender of masculine or feminine. That pronoun was deliberate. In the Old Testament, the pronouns referring to God are grammatically masculine.
The same thing is found in the New Testament. The epistles (from Acts to Revelation) contain nearly 900 verses where the Greek word theos—a masculine noun—is used to refer to God. Although Koine Greek had gender-neutral terms, God is still referred to in the masculine gender.
In addition to the grammatical constructions, the imagery used in the Bible also confirms that God has chosen to refer to Himself as possessing male qualities. Several metaphors and titles are used to describe God. There are hundreds of references to God as a Father, King, and Husband. Jesus taught us to pray specifically to “our Father” (Luke 11:2). There are numerous other references to God as Father, such as Deuteronomy 32:6, Malachi 2:10, and 1 Corinthians 8:6. God is explicitly called a king (not a queen) in many passages; for example, Psalm 24:10, Psalm 47:2, Isaiah 44:6, and 1 Timothy 1:17. He is also described as a husband in places like Isaiah 54:5 and Hosea 2:2, 16, and 19.
In one place a simile is used to refer to God comforting His people like a mother comforts her child (Isaiah 66:13). Even there, God does not say He is a mother, only that He will comfort His people like a mother. Isaiah 49:15 is another verse that mentions a mother in a description of God, but it is not even a comparison; it is a contrast: God cares more for His people than a nursing mother does her baby.
The greatest revelation of God to us is His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2). In the Incarnation, the Son came to earth as a physical man, not a woman. Jesus consistently referred to God as His Father, not as His mother. Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to God, calling Him, “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36). In the Gospels alone, Jesus calls God “Father” well over 100 times.
Again, God is spirit; He is not “male” in the sense that any man in this world is. God has no physical characteristics and no genetics. He transcends gender. At the same time, God has purposefully revealed Himself to us using masculine language. God is always a “He” in the Bible. Since God uses masculine pronouns to refer to Himself, we should continue using masculine pronouns to refer to God as well.
Recommended Resource: The Quest Study Bible
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Questions about God
Since God is not male, should we stop using masculine pronouns to refer to God?