Skip to main content

"What about the Bible's 'Feminine Terms' for God?"

Image result for language


Recently I posted an article addressing the question “Should Christians refer to God as 'Mother’?” That article can be found here.

I sometimes hear the objection, 

“But what about all the feminine terms used for God in the Bible?” 

The Bible never actually uses any feminine terms to refer to God. Not even one. 

Neither in the Hebrew Old Testament nor in the Greek New Testament are the pronouns “she” or “her” ever used. By contrast, the masculine third-person, “he” and “his”, is used thousands of times. When Scripture employs any term for God, it is either masculine or non-gender. In both the New and Old Testament God is referred to as “King”, but never “Queen” (that practice is actually condemned). Jesus constantly called God “Father” but never “Mother”. Jesus is described as God’s “Son” but never his “Daughter”. Christ is referred to as our “Bridegroom” but never our “Bride”.


Objections:

What about feminine imagery for God, such as Deut. 32 or Psalm 123?”

There are rare instances where God’s actions are described using a feminine metaphor (which is different from a feminine term or title). For example, God’s loving protection over us may be compared to a mother bird protecting its young using “like” or “as”. But this is a normal Biblical way of describing men in the Bible as well. David is described to be “like a bear robbed of her clubs” (I Sam 17) and Paul says he is like a nursing mother to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2.7). Because Scriptural language uses such metaphors, that does not mean that Paul wanted to be referred to as “she” nor did David want his kids to start calling him “mother”.

What about the word for “Spirit”? Isn’t the term for the “Spirit” of God feminine?

Yes, but in the context of this discussion, that is misleading. The Hebrew word for breath (spirit and breath are the same word in Hebrew) is feminine. (The word "spirit" is neutered in Greek.)

If you only know English, this may stretch your mind as you are not used to thinking of non-personal nouns as having gender. If you’ve studied German, French or Spanish though, you should easily understand. The French word for “arm” is masculine even if it is a woman’s arm. The French word for “leg” is feminine even if it is a man’s leg. Most body parts in Hebrew are feminine even if they belong to Moses or David. This doesn’t mean we should call Moses “she” any more than we do God.


What about El-Shaddai? Doesn’t that mean the God with breasts?

No, it doesn’t. The traditional translation is “God Almighty”.  There has been some legitimate debate around the possible meanings of “Shaddai”.  However, the possibility of it meaning “the breasted one” has been driven by enthusiastic ideologues instead of decisive linguistic study. This misnomer was presented by an American woman in New York City in the 20th century and was based on how a neighbouring Semitic country used a similar term in reference to its goddess.


As I said in the original post, if we are Christians, we must take God in the way Jesus has revealed him to be whether that fits into our ideology or not. The male-gendered way God has chosen to reveal Himself does not, in large, make Him less accessible to women. In fact, it sometimes makes it easier.


____________________________

If you've liked this message, please share or leave a comment on the FB link. 

Also, if you would like a FREE chapter from my book, Forbidden Friendships, just email me at MenandWomenFriends@Gmail.com.

Or, you can get the whole book off Amazon: Here in the USA or Here in the UK



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Where I Turn Down a Gay 'Wedding' Invitation

Dear Katie,
I hope this letter finds you well. You’ve been on my mind lately as it’s been a few weeks since we’ve met up. We’re overdue to grab a coffee – I hope we can soon. I also want to thank you for thinking of me as you sent out invitations for what I know will be a big day for you and Joanna. I’ve known you since before you met her (two years ago now, is it?) and I appreciate all you’ve shared with me about how meaningful that relationship is to you. It was especially kind of you given my Christian faith. You've never directly asked me my views on gender or sex in much detail. But I think our conversations must have touched on it enough times to at least make you a bit unsure of my reaction when you sent the invitation. I have to say 'no' to your kind invitation. You know that I care for you and that I value our friendship. You know I don't reject you because you are gay. So, would it be too much to ask of you if I explain why my faith would make attendance at your…

Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend

[Response to the letter Dear Non-Affirming Christian]
Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend,
Thank you for taking the time to write me. Sadly, it seems you misunderstand why I met with you for coffee. Please let me explain my motives by defining the words in my salutation above. Would this be too terrible a way to go about it?
Let’s start with ‘friend’ shall we? You rightly question this term as an accurate description of our relationship. For now, let's simply say I mean it as an expression of good will - but will return to it again at the end of the letter. Then there's this term, 'pro-gay'. By this, I don't mean your personal sexual urges. There have historically been – and are today – countless godly leaders in the church who have deep sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same gender. In spite of their desires, they remain celibate and teach orthodox views of gender and sexuality. In your letter, you repeatedly refer to me as a ‘non-affirming Christian’, but I …

Holy Halloween?

The big ugly debate is upon us.
No, not the Presidential one. This debate involves dwarves and banshees of quite another variety.
As heated as the political scene may now be, it will pale to fervor with which Christians will begin debating if and how they will celebrate what is now commonly called "Halloween". This battle of ideas will be waged from the beaches of church pews to the hills of Facebook. There will be shots fired and people unfriended.
But what cyber surfing culture warrior would be complete without some historical trivia and theological sanity? Here you go...

The Background Story
The devil would love to steal All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) away from Christians. He is making good progress at it too.
All Hallow’s Eve is neither American nor pagan in heritage. The name should be obvious enough. Hallow means ‘holy’ (‘Hallowed be thy name’) and it marks a three-day celebration of the victory of Jesus over the powers of darkness as experienced by departed saints and Christi…