Masculine Imageries of God (Part 1)

Guest Contributor: Hon Sir Neng

INTRODUCTION

Throughout Scripture, God is addressed with masculine pronoun. Nowhere has God ever been addressed by feminine pronoun(s). This is an issue that needs to be discussed, especially with the rise of what some Western theologians would call “Christian Feminism.” Some of the more radical ones would promote the idea of addressing God with a female pronoun (i.e. she, her & etc). Many would go to the extent of claiming it was written from a patriarchal mindset and that women must reinterpret Scripture for themselves. There are certain underlying assumptions and implications behind this idea, especially when the masculine imageries are taken away.

To start things off, we need to establish 3 assumptions.

GOD’S GENDER

Firstly, God has no gender, He is neither male or female. Reason being that Scripture describes God’s incorporeality or Him being immaterial, just as John Frame argues how He is not identified with any physical being in the world (389-390)[1]. However, there are certain things which we can deduce from Scripture:

i. God was never addressed with female pronoun, but with male pronoun.

ii. God revealed Himself to us primarily through masculine imageries.

iii. Scripture also contains feminine imageries of God.

These findings suggests that, even in light of God being genderless, Scripture emphasizes the importance of addressing God with a masculine pronoun. The masculine and feminine imageries in the Bible also describe certain attributes and acts of God. This series will solely focus on the masculine imageries only.

ANTHROPOMORPHISM

Secondly, God reveals Himself to us via anthropomorphic means. Beegle describe it as “…a figure of speech that describes God as having human form (Exo. 15:3, Num. 12:8), with feet (Gen. 3:8; Exo. 24:10), hands (Exo. 24:11; Jos. 4:24), mouth (Num. 12:8; Isa. 40:5), and heart (Hos. 11:8), but in a wider sense the term also includes human attributes and emotions (Gen. 2:2; 6:6: Exo. 20:5; Hos. 11:8)”[2] This simply means God who is transcendent (i.e. far above), uses human imageries to reveal Himself and communicate with humans. That does not mean God possesses all these physical attributes. As we mentioned earlier, God is incorporeal, and does not possess any physical forms.

GOD’S DESIGN OF MALE & FEMALE

Thirdly, God created and ordained men and women in a way that complements each other. Within Scripture, God has established and ordained certain positions for only the men. Take for example the Priests (Lev. 8), Pastors and Elders (1 Tim. 2:12-13), as well as Kings and Apostles. Even within marriage, God has ordained the husband as the head of the house to lovingly lead the family (Eph. 5:22-24). These roles display headship within its specific function(s).

CONCLUSION

What can we make out of these 3 assumptions? God does not reveal Himself out of a vacuum. Instead, he reveals Himself even through means like human function or roles which He ordained and established. These three assumptions would better help us understand the masculine imageries of God as we explore further in the next few articles.

 

[1] John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (P & R Publishing, 2013), 289-290.

[2] Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, Cumbria: Baker Pub Group, 1996), 69.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, and they do not reflect in any way views of the institutions to which he is affiliated  and/or the other Laikos Theologos contributors.

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