Fox News recently ran a story under this headline: Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral. Well, first of all, good luck “making God” into anything. He is who He is, and no amount of messing with the English language is going to change even one little bit of who He is.
The simple fact is that whenever God reveals Himself in Scripture, He reveals Himself as masculine in nature. After all, He, as Jesus himself said, is our “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). [Emphasis mine throughout.]
In Genesis 1, where we are first introduced to God, the first hint of gender reference comes in verse 10, where we are told that “the waters that were gathered together he called seas” (Genesis 1:10). When it comes to the creation of man, this is what we read: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
Genesis 1:31: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Almost as if Moses is trying to pound the point home, here’s what we find in Genesis 2, the paragraph that caps off his description of the week God created the universe and everything that exists. “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day...because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3). Nine uses of the masculine pronoun in two verses. Any questions?
There’s no point in seeking refuge in the Hebrew text because that’s exactly what it says too. It’s actually worse in Hebrew because “God” (Elohim) is a masculine noun in Hebrew grammar, and thus all the verbs in Genesis 1:1-2:3 have masculine subjects.
Now we must recognize that God created Eve as well as Adam. Since every created thing came from God, this means that Eve received her nature as a woman from God. She was as fully made in the image of God as Adam was.
This means that her female-ness was in some sense contained in God, but this part of God’s nature was hidden until Eve was made. As God made Eve from Adam’s body, in some sense her femaleness was concealed within Him for a time until God fashioned what he had taken from Adam’s side into a woman. Since both maleness and femaleness are contained in God, in truth He is beyond gender.
In marriage, the man reflects God’s masculinity in his role as leader, initiator, provider, protector, and guide for his wife and family. He provides a covering for her and for their children, meaning that he is the face of the family to the world and there is a sense in which she is concealed under his protective leadership.
And his wife expresses the femininity that God has imparted to her by arranging herself under her husband’s leadership, following him, supporting him, and nurturing the children the two of them bring into the world through their love for each other. There is another truth here, that it takes man and woman working together in the “one flesh” union of marriage to fully display the nature and image of God to the world.
In fact, we, as the “bride” of Christ, stand in a female-type relationship to Christ as our head, with the “marriage supper of the Lamb” being the culmination of redemptive history. This - the union of the body of Christ with its head - is what Paul calls a “profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32), beyond what we can understand fully in this age.
Christ, as the second member of the Trinity, was incarnate in human flesh as a man, not as some man-woman hybrid. But don’t doubt me when I tell you that the outcome of all this nonsense on stilts about the gender of God is that one day we will be told that Jesus is, in fact, the “daughter” of God and we’ve just had it wrong all these years.
So God is revealed in Scripture and in His interventions in history as masculine in nature. Jesus was male and masculine in every single cell of His body. Episcopalians should be content to leave God and the Book of Common Prayer alone and allow worshippers to worship the God and Lord revealed in the Bible, not some mythical and imaginary creature of their own.