Is it Inappropriate for Christians to Be Assertive?
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Is it Inappropriate for Christians to Be Assertive?

FAQ: Does God Have a Gender?

Should God be addressed as “her” or “she”? That may seem right, since the Bible at times talks about God in a feminine way: for example, as a mother hen (Matt. 23:37). Are female pronouns appropriate, as a way to acknowledge God’s feminine characteristics?

Not too long ago, I talked to someone who’s a part of a mainline Protestant denomination. This person told me about a recent meeting with a number of the clergy talking about is this very question: “Should we talk about God as ‘she?’” If you’re in a church that’s having those kinds of discussions, you probably need to get out.

There are some important issues here.

First, theologically speaking, God is a Spirit. Jesus said this clearly in John 4 when he was speaking to the woman at the well. God in himself isn’t a man or woman. Men and women were both made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), but God isn’t literally either one.

Second, throughout Scripture, God is referred to as “he.” Typically, the language in the Bible about God is like an analogy. It’s like baby talk. God isn’t literally a man, but he reveals himself to us in his word as “he.” We’re creatures, we’re finite, but God is infinite. He has to talk about himself in ways we can understand.

Third, God the Son—the second person of the Holy Trinity—was born a man. He came for us and for our salvation as a male.

So we have to be careful. We need to use the language that God has given to us, because God is the one who gets to reveal himself to us.

It’s true that the Bible uses feminine analogies when referring to God, but typically Scripture refers to God as the Father. And the Son has assumed humanity as a man for us for our salvation. So, we should use the language that the Bible uses. I’m concerned when people start drifting away from that. Often, it demonstrates a low view of how God has revealed himself to us.

We have to guard against the idea that God is, in his essence, male or female. We don’t speak in that way. But we also want to guard against rejecting how God has revealed himself and using terminology that God has not given to us.

Stick to what the Bible says, and you can’t go wrong.

This article is part of our Frequently Asked Questions series. Listen to Pastor Adriel answer this question on Core Radio here.

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10 Ways God Reveals Himself as our Father

Photo of Adriel Sanchez
Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a host on the Core Christianity radio program, a live, daily call-in talk show where he answers listeners' questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their five children.