Author Topic: Calling God "She".  (Read 686 times)

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Offline Ray1

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Calling God "She".
« on: May 01, 2018, 08:12:15 AM »
We know that God has no gender, God is neither male nor female, such concepts do not apply to God. But why do we call God "He" and not "She"? Why does it feel "weird" to use female pronouns when it comes to describing God but not when using male pronouns? And on a personal level, what do you think, and would you use "She" to call God?

I personally don't know where I stand, I just use male pronouns to call God, but would it be "wrong" or "heretical" to use a female pronoun?
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 08:14:41 AM by Ray1 »

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2018, 08:22:03 AM »
Jesus consistently called God Father - in His teaching, in His private devotions, and in the first standardised prayer He provided for people. What was good enough for Jesus is good enough for me.
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Offline JTLoganville

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2018, 08:24:16 AM »
Jesus is God, and His gender is male.

He called God His Father; and He has commanded that we Baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Other pronouns should "feel strange" because they are alien to God's self-revelation.

Offline Ray1

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2018, 10:29:48 AM »
Jesus is God, and His gender is male.

He called God His Father; and He has commanded that we Baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Other pronouns should "feel strange" because they are alien to God's self-revelation.

Jesus was a Middle Eastern man, should we now consider God also Middle Eastern? You can't say God is male because Jesus is male, but then say no, God is not Middle Eastern, even though Jesus was. Saying the former leads to the latter and many others.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 10:33:42 AM by Ray1 »

Offline Ray1

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2018, 10:33:19 AM »
Jesus consistently called God Father - in His teaching, in His private devotions, and in the first standardised prayer He provided for people. What was good enough for Jesus is good enough for me.

I agree, but it still leaves the question of why did God use the male pronoun instead of female unanswered? Is God sexist? certainly not, so why was the male pronoun used and would using a female pronoun be considered "wrong"?
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 10:35:05 AM by Ray1 »

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2018, 10:44:42 AM »
Thinking symbolically, I think fatherhood is a better analogy for God's relationship to creation, as opposed to motherhood which might suggest something more like Platonic or Daoist creation by emanation. Of course God's relationship to creation can be- and sometimes is- compared to a mother too in some ways. No analogy about God is problem free!

I would say that referring to God as "she" is not inherently more wrong than saying "he," but using pronouns interchangeably might undermine the sense of God as person (as opposed to abstraction).

Lastly I would say that a living faith tradition lives with history and with the accompanying difficulties. Transcending these difficulties is a very different thing from whitewashing them. Rewriting prayers and overturning age-old customs with the aim of correcting a perceived imbalance or injustice tends to engender sterility and distracts more than illumines.
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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2018, 12:36:28 PM »
What about the Ancient Egyptian Pharoahs? . . .
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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2018, 02:01:09 PM »
Arachne is correct. Jesus called God Father.  He also taught us the prayer that begins, "Our Father . . ."
In addition, In the ancient Hebrew culture, the creator of anything was called its "Father."  The Lord created Israel, so they called Him Father.  The Lord created the Church, so we call Him, "Father."
Furthermore, the Hebrew and Greek words for God are in the masculine gender.
However, even when we use the pronoun in English, we write "He" instead of 'he."  That capital H tells us that we are not dealing with the everyday "he."
Although we use "He," we know from Genesis 1 that both genders are created in God's image.
I doubt if calling God "She" would be a sin, at least not one of the worst ones, but since God refers to Himself as "He," I am too chicken to call Him anything else.

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2018, 02:23:29 PM »
Thinking symbolically, I think fatherhood is a better analogy for God's relationship to creation, as opposed to motherhood which might suggest something more like Platonic or Daoist creation by emanation. Of course God's relationship to creation can be- and sometimes is- compared to a mother too in some ways. No analogy about God is problem free!

I would say that referring to God as "she" is not inherently more wrong than saying "he," but using pronouns interchangeably might undermine the sense of God as person (as opposed to abstraction).

Lastly I would say that a living faith tradition lives with history and with the accompanying difficulties. Transcending these difficulties is a very different thing from whitewashing them. Rewriting prayers and overturning age-old customs with the aim of correcting a perceived imbalance or injustice tends to engender sterility and distracts more than illumines.

Good analysis brother.

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2018, 04:35:02 PM »
Jesus is God, and His gender is male.

He called God His Father; and He has commanded that we Baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Other pronouns should "feel strange" because they are alien to God's self-revelation.

Except, God has no genitals, nor chromosomes, nor brain which might have gender characteristics. If we're taking the Hypostatic Union and the importance of the body to identity seriously, then I think we should conclude that an unmixed, indivisible Union of male humanity (on the most gender essentialist reading possible of what that might mean) with genderless/gender transcendant deity results in an intersex Person.

That having been said, I agree with others that calling God She in a Christian context is likely kind of pointless/needlessly revisionist in a practical sense (keeping in mind passages in Scripture wherein God compares His own role to that of a woman).
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2018, 05:05:16 PM »
Thinking symbolically, I think fatherhood is a better analogy for God's relationship to creation, as opposed to motherhood which might suggest something more like Platonic or Daoist creation by emanation. Of course God's relationship to creation can be- and sometimes is- compared to a mother too in some ways. No analogy about God is problem free!

I would say that referring to God as "she" is not inherently more wrong than saying "he," but using pronouns interchangeably might undermine the sense of God as person (as opposed to abstraction).

Lastly I would say that a living faith tradition lives with history and with the accompanying difficulties. Transcending these difficulties is a very different thing from whitewashing them. Rewriting prayers and overturning age-old customs with the aim of correcting a perceived imbalance or injustice tends to engender sterility and distracts more than illumines.

I think Fr. Aidan would agree with your analysis there:

https://www.scribd.com/document/83236723/Holy-Trinity-Meets-Ashtoreth
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2018, 06:00:15 PM »
Jesus is God, and His gender is male.

He called God His Father; and He has commanded that we Baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Other pronouns should "feel strange" because they are alien to God's self-revelation.

Except, God has no genitals, nor chromosomes, nor brain which might have gender characteristics. If we're taking the Hypostatic Union and the importance of the body to identity seriously, then I think we should conclude that an unmixed, indivisible Union of male humanity (on the most gender essentialist reading possible of what that might mean) with genderless/gender transcendant deity results in an intersex person.

1 + 0 = 1

1 + 0 != 1.5

(Despite the fact that I don't believe in a gender spectrum; biological intersex people from birth are clearly abbaratioms and not a normal decimal point person).
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2018, 06:10:16 PM »
Jesus is God, and His gender is male.

He called God His Father; and He has commanded that we Baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Other pronouns should "feel strange" because they are alien to God's self-revelation.

Except, God has no genitals, nor chromosomes, nor brain which might have gender characteristics. If we're taking the Hypostatic Union and the importance of the body to identity seriously, then I think we should conclude that an unmixed, indivisible Union of male humanity (on the most gender essentialist reading possible of what that might mean) with genderless/gender transcendant deity results in an intersex person.

1 + 0 = 1

1 + 0 != 1.5

(Despite the fact that I don't believe in a gender spectrum; biological intersex people from birth are clearly abbaratioms and not a normal decimal point person).

Even if I bought that reasoning, we're talking about God and the mystery of the Incarnation not about merely human intersex people. Whatever gender is, Christ has to interact and enter into it, yet He is also one unified Personality. Saying that God's lack of gender has absolutely no influence on that sounds to me like some kind of Nestorian separation, almost akin to denying the term Theotokos.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 06:11:28 PM by Volnutt »
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Offline Ainnir

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2018, 06:28:20 PM »
The second Person of the Trinity incarnated as a whole human being, of which there are two varieties as Genesis attests.  He incarnated as male by choice.  That's probably all the further we need to concern ourselves with the status of our Lord Incarnate's sex/gender/pronoun.   :-X

As for God the Father, God the Son calls Him so, and thus so do we.  The pronoun for Father is "He."  I really don't see why it needs to be more complicated than that.  Personally, I don't feel any more valuable as a woman when people try to make it more complicated than that.  Maybe others do, though, I don't know.  I'm not sure challenging God's pronoun would be the right response to that possibility.   :-\
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2018, 06:45:52 PM »
The second Person of the Trinity incarnated as a whole human being, of which there are two varieties as Genesis attests.  He incarnated as male by choice.  That's probably all the further we need to concern ourselves with the status of our Lord Incarnate's sex/gender/pronoun.   :-X

I agree that it's likely not profitable to take things too far in that direction, but I also see a value in acknowledging the ambiguity. At the very least, it can lead to epistemological modesty, which is always a good thing to have more of imo.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2018, 06:52:08 PM »
St. Nikolai of Serbia looked at a couple parables in which Christ is represented by a woman rather than a man. Obviously, coming from someone like him, this isn't meant to blur gender lines, or argue that Christ or God should be referred to as a 'She,' but he does take the opportunity to show how activities or attributes traditionally considered feminine were at times more (or at least equally) representative of the divine good compared to masculine ones.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 06:52:37 PM by Asteriktos »

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2018, 07:01:42 PM »
Christ said the Kingdom of God is both of those who take it by violence (which means women must take up this masculine trait) and of the meek (which means men must take up this feminine trait). I do believe some traditional gender roles are blurred when we're talking about being a Christian, although some must be much enforced, such as those related to the balances of holy matrimony. This doesn't have a direct relationship with the topic discussed here, but I was thinking about this and this thread sounds like an okay place to dump this idea.
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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2018, 10:06:11 PM »
Jesus is God, and His gender is male.

He called God His Father; and He has commanded that we Baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Other pronouns should "feel strange" because they are alien to God's self-revelation.

Except, God has no genitals, nor chromosomes, nor brain which might have gender characteristics. If we're taking the Hypostatic Union and the importance of the body to identity seriously, then I think we should conclude that an unmixed, indivisible Union of male humanity (on the most gender essentialist reading possible of what that might mean) with genderless/gender transcendant deity results in an intersex person.

1 + 0 = 1

1 + 0 != 1.5

(Despite the fact that I don't believe in a gender spectrum; biological intersex people from birth are clearly abbaratioms and not a normal decimal point person).

Even if I bought that reasoning, we're talking about God and the mystery of the Incarnation not about merely human intersex people. Whatever gender is, Christ has to interact and enter into it, yet He is also one unified Personality. Saying that God's lack of gender has absolutely no influence on that sounds to me like some kind of Nestorian separation, almost akin to denying the term Theotokos.


I don't think so.
And saying that the Two Natures mixed together is Monophysitism. If God is fully Divine and fully man, I don't see how the Divine Nature would cause biological changes to the human nature. At least, that's how I see it. There are still Two Natures after the Incarnation, as Chalcedon declares.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 10:10:12 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2018, 01:24:28 AM »
Jesus is God, and His gender is male.

He called God His Father; and He has commanded that we Baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Other pronouns should "feel strange" because they are alien to God's self-revelation.

Except, God has no genitals, nor chromosomes, nor brain which might have gender characteristics. If we're taking the Hypostatic Union and the importance of the body to identity seriously, then I think we should conclude that an unmixed, indivisible Union of male humanity (on the most gender essentialist reading possible of what that might mean) with genderless/gender transcendant deity results in an intersex person.

1 + 0 = 1

1 + 0 != 1.5

(Despite the fact that I don't believe in a gender spectrum; biological intersex people from birth are clearly abbaratioms and not a normal decimal point person).

Even if I bought that reasoning, we're talking about God and the mystery of the Incarnation not about merely human intersex people. Whatever gender is, Christ has to interact and enter into it, yet He is also one unified Personality. Saying that God's lack of gender has absolutely no influence on that sounds to me like some kind of Nestorian separation, almost akin to denying the term Theotokos.


I don't think so.
And saying that the Two Natures mixed together is Monophysitism. If God is fully Divine and fully man, I don't see how the Divine Nature would cause biological changes to the human nature. At least, that's how I see it. There are still Two Natures after the Incarnation, as Chalcedon declares.

They don't mix, but what is true of one is true of the other to an extent (the Theotokos is the Mother of God, God died according to the flesh, etc). It implies that there's more to gender than just the body, but I didn't think that was a controversial view for anybody.
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2018, 02:11:08 AM »
While God Himself has characteristics of both the female and the male gender (for example, He views Himself as a nurturer of Israel; Christ comparing Himself to a hen and the Israelites to the chicks, etc., He also "begets" and a Fatherly figure as well), nevertheless God doesn't have a gender; that is something that is unique to human beings as well as other earthly organisms.

My problem with your logic is that you equivocate genderlessness with characteristics of both genders as the possession of both genders, which is something I don't see as something that logically follows (particularly if we aren't acting like certain academians and are using "gender" and "sex" interchangeably), as after all, "intersex" means between both genders - which in some cases, actually biologically happens. You can thank the LGBTQ movement for clouding up this serious ethical question with the normalization of same-sex relationships and the idea that both gender and biological sex (as they define it) are something that are merely constructed and can be changed.


Then again, we are trying to both describe the Divine Nature of God, something that is only able to be described to a limited degree (Trinity)
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 02:14:04 AM by LivenotoneviL »
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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2018, 02:48:03 AM »
Important thing: male/female ideas in theology are not mere description as in some points there's an actual relation, since nature is an icon of divine mysteries. This is the gap between Western (post-schism) and Eastern theology of nature and reflects in actual icons (this is why Western art bothered so much getting more realistic, because nature started being seen merely in empirical POVs from every since Ockham; and even by Aquinas in a certain way as he split between nature and supernature).
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Offline Sharbel

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2018, 10:47:04 AM »
The Trinitarian God has Three Persons: the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  Two of them are male persons and the other is neither male nor female.  The Father, however, as the source of Divinity in the Godhead and usually the person Whom we address as God, then, as his personhood is male, we use the male pronoun He.  Not this is any exegesis, for I know that I used terms loosely, yet we only know how to relate to another person, and, since the Trinity is a mystery incomprehensible to us, we are bound by the pronouns of language when referring to another person, even when neither a male nor a female pronoun is fully adequate.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 10:50:49 AM by Sharbel »
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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2018, 12:40:56 PM »
Gregory the Theologian in his 31st Oration talked about pronouns.  In the Greek, the word “Father” is obviously masculine, the word for divinity or Godhead is actually feminine, and the word for Spirit is neuter.  He makes this point to prove that there is no gender in God.

At the same time, we also clearly see in Scriptures the masculine use for God is relational to creation, which is feminine.  Israel and Judah, both names of men, were also femininized when discussing them as nations in a love relationship to God. This continues today with the Church.

To say anything further would be speculation.  We submit to the language of Scripture and leave the rest to any revelation in the second coming.
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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2018, 03:09:47 PM »
The Trinitarian God has Three Persons: the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  Two of them are male persons and the other is neither male nor female.  The Father, however, as the source of Divinity in the Godhead and usually the person Whom we address as God, then, as his personhood is male, we use the male pronoun He.  Not this is any exegesis, for I know that I used terms loosely, yet we only know how to relate to another person, and, since the Trinity is a mystery incomprehensible to us, we are bound by the pronouns of language when referring to another person, even when neither a male nor a female pronoun is fully adequate.
On a side note, Syriac Christian writers might use feminine pronouns and allegory to talk about the Holy Spirit. I have no idea on the consistence or frequency of this, but some people in the forum might shed some light.
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Anyhow when God was asked he said Eastern Orthodox is true Church and not Catholic Church. So come home and enjoy.

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2018, 03:24:43 PM »
The Trinitarian God has Three Persons: the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  Two of them are male persons and the other is neither male nor female.  The Father, however, as the source of Divinity in the Godhead and usually the person Whom we address as God, then, as his personhood is male, we use the male pronoun He.  Not this is any exegesis, for I know that I used terms loosely, yet we only know how to relate to another person, and, since the Trinity is a mystery incomprehensible to us, we are bound by the pronouns of language when referring to another person, even when neither a male nor a female pronoun is fully adequate.
On a side note, Syriac Christian writers might use feminine pronouns and allegory to talk about the Holy Spirit. I have no idea on the consistence or frequency of this, but some people in the forum might shed some light.

Well, at least in Arabic, Ruh is female (it may be Spirit or soul), while nafs is femenine (it may be soul or self). In e.g writings of metropolita George Khodr the fact that nafs (soul) is femenine, the same as Kanisa (Church) is very important in relations with God (Allah that's male).
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Calling God "She".
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2018, 03:40:47 PM »
Well, at least in Arabic, Ruh is female (it may be Spirit or soul), while nafs is femenine (it may be soul or self). In e.g writings of metropolita George Khodr the fact that nafs (soul) is femenine, the same as Kanisa (Church) is very important in relations with God (Allah that's male).
This, in Hebrew, is also important for exegesis of the Song of Songs. Maybe Fr. Tadros Malaty wrote something about it, IDK, but the OSB has a neat summary of how the Fathers saw the book, although not getting into linguistics.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 03:41:39 PM by RaphaCam »
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