Presbyterianism, whose bodies are also called Reformed Churches, share a common origin in the 16th-century Swiss Reformation and the teachings of John Calvin, and today is one of the largest Christian denominations in Protestantism.

Gender of God

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  • Gender of God

    Question:

    I'm interested in learning about the Presbyterian church's concept that refers to God as feminine and/or masculine? Please direct me to resources. Answer:

    You ask about the Presbyterian view on feminine or masculine names for God. I can't speak for all Presbyterians. I can speak only for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). The OPC being a theologically conservative church, we believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God. And since God doesn't change, we do not hold that God should be considered feminine or neuter.

    As far as I know, all written languages have masculine and feminine names, as well as pronouns indicating people as masculine or feminine. So, since the names of deity in the Bible are all masculine, we do not think of God as, for instance, our "heavenly mother."

    The above is a positive answer to your question. But I feel I owe you some reasons derived from the Bible and then conclusions based on those answers.

    Reasons first: The historic Christian faith holds that the true God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Bible treats them all as masculine. But you need to understand three things: (1) All the qualities found in human personality—male and female—are attributed to the Persons of the Triune God. The 103rd Psalm, verses 6-18, sets forth characteristics found in both sexes. See also Psalm 27:10. (2) God created mankind male and female (Genesis 1:26-27), and both in His image. So, though men and women are physiologically different, yet they and they alone of all earthly creatures are in God's image. (3) God the Creator is distinct from His creation. The Bible begins with "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." God is eternal; the heavens and the earth are not. See also Acts 17:24-27.

    And God tells us why he created woman: In Genesis 2:18 "And the Lord God said, 'it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him ...' " God created Adam to be the representative head of the human race. He could not fulfill that destiny except for the woman that God gave him. And when Adam sinned and fell from his original righteousness, both were subjected to trouble because of their sin. Eve's trouble was that she should have difficulty in child-bearing, and Adam's that he would have to work strenuously to feed himself and his family until he died.

    This leads to the consideration of the relation between the sexes in marriage. Ephesians 5:21-33 tells that story. The wife was to be in subjection to her husband, just as the church is subject to Christ. But how did Christ earn the right to be Lord over His church? By dying for the church on the cross, a pretty big price to pay for lordship. And husbands are to be Christ-like to their wives, protecting them, providing for them and their children.

    The Bible's concept is not like that of the caveman whirling a club around his head, dragging a woman to his cave. No, it is love and respect for the man who gave her his name and provides for her and their children at all cost.

    I put verse 21 in there on purpose, in spite of its belonging to the previous paragraph: "... submitting to one another in the fear of God." Marriage is a wonderful, divine institution; but to make it wonderful there must be mutual submission. Two people need to work at making it a heaven on earth rather than a hell on earth. I had a wife for 57 years until my Lord took her home. If anybody referred to her as my "better half," I would say Amen! We were poor in those early days, but she took our meager earnings and made a home out of what I could provide, never complaining to me that she should have continued teaching school so she could live better.

    Another Scripture passage that feminists don't like is 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. Overall, it's a difficult passage to interpret, but a couple of things stand out clearly in verse 3; "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." Two things are important: Christ, who is the Son of God incarnate in human flesh, though Himself divine, was subject to God, His Father and the first Person of the Trinity. And yet He was subject to His Father. And the man, as an image-bearer of God, is no better than the woman who also bears God's image. And still she is subject to the headship of man. How can that be? Inferiority in status is not inferiority in worth!

    This equality in honor is stated again in verses 11 and 12: "Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord [my emphasis]. For as woman came from man [Genesis 2:21-22], so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God."

    I could go further, but I've said enough to set forth the biblical position of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church regarding the gender of the divine names. Of course, take God away and you have men warring against women, abusing them and getting all the pleasure out of them that they can, and then tossing them aside. And it works the same way when the roles are reversed. But the Bible is a supremely wise book.

    So the conclusion: It's not competition but complementation, not independency but inter-dependency. And because of the secularization of our culture (which I've seen turn almost 180 degrees in my lifetime) the battle lines are drawn—even to feminizing God who made the woman to be "the glory of man" (1 Corinthians 11:7). We need to go back to what God says and rejoice in what He made us, in spite of inequities that are all about us because of our fallenness.

    I know I gave you more than you asked. But think about what I've written and see if, under God, we'd all be much happier and hopeful of greater joy, through Jesus Christ, in the world to come. And even if you disagree with what I've written, I'd be glad to hear from you again.

    Source: Orthodox Presbyterian Church

  • #2
    Gender of God is by and large masculine, however, I don't see why people are making fuss over when God is referred as He. even in Islam and Buddhism, God is referred as a male. In Hinduism there are Gods and Goddesses because it is basically polytheist belief.
    Let us imagine, if God was referred as She, would it make any difference. Gender is just a way of addressing, it does not make any difference to the reality. Jesus addressed God as father, had he addressed God as mother, we would have have addressed God as She.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by luri View Post
      I don't see why people are making fuss over when God is referred as He.
      The fuss is all about blurring the lines between genders, bringing "gender-neutrality" into the Bible, and sowing seeds of moral and spiritual confusion. This is another attempt by Satan to attack the Bible and attack people to bring about their eternal ruin. The sad fact is that Christians who should know better try to promote the idea that God is "neuter". That is sheer nonsense.
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      • #4
        The fact that God is Spirit has brought up the gender question. Of course God is spoken of in the male gender. Our Father who art in Heaven. And Jesus Christ - male - was God incarnate.

        One of the most recent 'new' Bibles is a 'gender-neutral' Bible. Totally ridiculous.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sue D. View Post
          The fact that God is Spirit has brought up the gender question.
          Yes the Bible says that God is a Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also a Spirit. The holy angels as well as the evil angels are all spirits. But that does not change the fact that all of them are MASCULINE. We may safely conclude that all spirits are masculine, and there is no question that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all masculine. We must always go by what the Bible reveals, not what humans or humanistic reasoning would prefer.
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          • #6
            God is not human! No sex!
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Lucas View Post
              Yes the Bible says that God is a Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also a Spirit. The holy angels as well as the evil angels are all spirits. But that does not change the fact that all of them are MASCULINE. We may safely conclude that all spirits are masculine, and there is no question that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all masculine. We must always go by what the Bible reveals, not what humans or humanistic reasoning would prefer.
              You're putting the Holy Spirit / 3rd part of the Godhead/ on the same level as the angels in heaven? God created the angelic world as a little higher than we are. But they aren't part of the Godhead.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sue D. View Post

                You're putting the Holy Spirit / 3rd part of the Godhead/ on the same level as the angels in heaven? God created the angelic world as a little higher than we are. But they aren't part of the Godhead.
                Not at all. What I am saying is that all spirit beings in Scripture are masculine, whether in the Godhead or simply angels (created spirit beings). God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are both Spirits and both are masculine, and there are no two ways about it.

                God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

                Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (John 16:7,8).

                [The title "the Comforter" is applied by Christ to the Holy Spirit]
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mrtsail View Post
                  God is not human! No sex!
                  Since the Lord Jesus Christ is fully human and also God, you are clearly mistaken. See my previous post for clarification on the Father and the Holy Spirit.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lucas View Post
                    Not at all. What I am saying is that all spirit beings in Scripture are masculine, whether in the Godhead or simply angels (created spirit beings). God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are both Spirits and both are masculine, and there are no two ways about it.
                    When we, In this country, joke that God is an Englishman, at least we don't think it is true. But Americam conservatives seem to be in no doubt that he is a fine strapping male, just like them.
                    Last edited by ThyWordisTruth; 06-30-2017, 03:01 AM.
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                    • #11
                      Interesting TOPIC!
                      About God's masculinity and God-head (Trinity)..
                      Well, I'm not sure how far this will go, but this discussion is here to stay.

                      First of all, It's profound that God is considered a 'He' in the Scriptures. But because of Jesus' incarnation and lifetime on earth, other denominations or people bring controversy 'out of the blue' since they don't seek to understand the scriptures in insight and through the Holy Spirit's help/prayer.. The Bible tells us, in Jeremiah 33;3 ''Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.''
                      I've also not found alot of reference in scriptures about the Trinity except when Christ occasionally mentions and the Beginning/Creation stories. So, let's just stick to that and the scriptures only lest we fall on a risk-ground.
                      You've probably heard of this verse -Deuteronomy 29;29 which states that, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. BUT, I hope God will shed more light to those who get stranded on this issue..since Proverbs 25;2 tells me that, ''It is the glory of God to conceal a matter..'' :)
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ThyWordisTruth View Post
                        But Americam conservatives seem to be in no doubt that he is a fine strapping male, just like them.
                        Half of American conservatives are female.
                        Clyde Herrin's Blog
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                        • #13
                          I've never seen any indication in Scripture of God's being female. He is our heavenly Father. Some denominations have His mother, Mary, standing beside Him. But I've not seen anything in Scripture to back that up.

                          In America -- there Are some body-building men who Are the 'fine strapping male' image. But that does Not represent the average American male. And, unfortunately the 'average American male' does Not take the spiritual lead. So , just Maybe, the men in the world Need to recognize God as being the Father.

                          In This country -- there are Wives who end up taking the lead in the conservative attitudes. Not to burst the bubble for any of you men out there. Maybe women in the other countries Are different than here in the U.S.

                          I need to get some breakfast. :)
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sue D. View Post
                            I've never seen any indication in Scripture of God's being female. He is our heavenly Father. Some denominations have His mother, Mary, standing beside Him. But I've not seen anything in Scripture to back that up.

                            In America -- there Are some body-building men who Are the 'fine strapping male' image. But that does Not represent the average American male. And, unfortunately the 'average American male' does Not take the spiritual lead. So , just Maybe, the men in the world Need to recognize God as being the Father.

                            In This country -- there are Wives who end up taking the lead in the conservative attitudes. Not to burst the bubble for any of you men out there. Maybe women in the other countries Are different than here in the U.S.

                            I need to get some breakfast. :)
                            The only reason there is any suggestion of gender at all, is that they had to use one of two personal pronouns, and unsurprisingly, given the time and place in which it was written, they chose the male one.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ThyWordisTruth View Post

                              The only reason there is any suggestion of gender at all, is that they had to use one of two personal pronouns, and unsurprisingly, given the time and place in which it was written, they chose the male one.
                              Well -- since God Is the giver of His Word 'they' are working with what He has given 'them' to work with. :)

                              The Feminist Movement has put in it's two cents worth in -- a 'she' is just as capable as a 'he' is in most every part of life. While it's true that lots of women Can do the same jobs as men do, it Does tend to detract from a woman's feminine nature. We Are capable of opening that door ourselves, but it sure is nice when a man is being a gentleman and opens it For me. There are some jobs that a man's physical build is better built to handle. And there are Also some women who have a great deal of upper body, shoulder, arm muscles who Could do that heavy lifting,etc. But let the men do it, anyway.
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