This page is in response to a dialog I heard on the radio from a Christian whom I respect for his usually excellent teaching. However, his response to the question, "Is God male?" left much to be desired. The issue was skirted around and never directly answered, although the implied answer was "yes." Since many skeptics claim that the Bible is sexist, it is good to know what it actually says about this issue.
Nature of God
The Bible has a lot to say about the nature of God. God is personal and emotional. In fact, in the phrase, "God created mankind in His image," it is generally accepted that the characteristics that distinguish us from other animals are those that reflect the nature of God. If the Bible were referring to only physical characteristics when it states that man was created in the image of God, it would not say many of the things it does about His nature. For example, the Bible states that both males and females are created in the image of God.1 Unless God were a hermaphrodite (having both male and female sexual organs), this phrase could not refer to purely physical characteristics. In addition, there are numerous other verses in the Bible that describe God as having non-human physical characteristics, such as feathers and wings.2 Should we think of God as being an overgrown chicken? Certainly not! God is so unlike humans, that the Bible often paints word pictures to give us a glimpse of what God is like.
God in three persons
The Bible says that God exists in the form of three persons, although He is one God. These three persons are said to be the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. According to the Bible, nobody has ever seen the Father, except the Son and the angels.3 The Father is the fully-expressed glory of God in heaven. The Son is the image of God4 expressed in bodily form,5 who existed in eternity past as part of the Godhead,6 but voluntarily gave up some of his glory to come to earth as a Jewish male.7 In this sense, the representation of God on earth could be said to be male. Likewise, every time "The Angel of the Lord" appeared on earth in the Old Testament, He appeared as a male. Most Christian theologians interpret the appearance of God in the Old Testament as the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. The third person of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit, who works through believers, but has never appeared on earth in human form.
Is God in heaven male?
When most people think of God, they think of Him in His glory in heaven. So, the question, "Is God male" usually refers to God as He exists in heaven. The Bible always refers to God using male pronouns. Does this mean that God is physically male? In other words, does God have male sexual organs? Surprisingly, the Bible does address this question indirectly, through a number of different statements about the nature of God and what He is like. Jesus said that God is "spirit."8 Although not defined extensively in the Bible, a spirit is an entity that has no physical body. After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples that He had returned in bodily form, saying, "a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."9 If God is a spirit as the Bible says, and a spirit has no flesh or bones, then God cannot be male in physical form. God is not male, since He is not a physical, but a spiritual, being.
Additional notes about sexual identity in heaven
The Bible indicates that things will be really different in heaven compared to earth. Many religions (e.g., Mormonism, Islam) make claims that heaven will be a place where males will have their choice of multiple female "companions." This tends to make those religions more appealing to human males, but makes no sense from a biblical perspective. The Bible says that once we die, there will be no marriage.10 This is because we will be "married" to God Himself.11 Biblical marriage was designed as a system to produce and raise children as a family unit to encourage them to choose to be with God in heaven. Once in heaven, there is no need for reproduction. Jesus also indicated that the angels (who are spirits) do not marry either. Given these facts, it would seem very strange that God would exhibit any kind of sexual characteristics.
- Who is God?
- If God Created Everything, Who Created God?
- What Will Heaven be Like?
- Sexism in the Bible?
- Man, Created in the Image of God- How Man is Unique Among All Other Creatures on Earth
- 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)
- Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my
soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the
disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1)
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge... He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:2-4)
- "Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father." (John 6:46)
- And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
- For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9)
- In the beginning was the Word [Jesus Christ, the Son], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)
- ...Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
- "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)
- "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 24:39)
- Jesus was asked a complicated
question about heaven by the Sadducees (a religious sect that did not believe in
the resurrection of the dead) that directly leads us to this conclusion (Matthew
The Sadducees gave a scenario of a woman who married 7 men (sequentially,
since they all died prematurely) in her lifetime. They asked whose wife she
would be in heaven. Jesus answered:
"You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:29-30)In other words, there will be no marriage or sexual differences among those in heaven, since reproduction is unnecessary. This concept is supported by other biblical verses that indicate that males and females are spiritually equal (Galatians 3:28).
- "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:7-9)
We are what we think.
- 03/11/2014 02:06 AM
Engaging in Christ-Centered Conversation
Last week, my colleague Krista Bontrager shared her insights into Son of God and the TV mini-series from which the film was derived. Whether or not you choose to see Son of God in theatres (or any of the other … Continue reading
- 03/07/2014 02:30 AM
Quote of the Week: John 15:26
But when the Helper [3rd] comes, whom I [2nd] will send to you from the Father [1st], the Spirit [3rd] of truth, who proceeds from the Father [1st], he will bear witness about me [2nd]. — John 15:26, ESV
- 03/04/2014 02:52 AM
“Son of God:” Representing the Bible on Screen
With the release of the Jesus biopic Son of God in theatres last week, this is a great time to engage in a conversation with others about the historical basis of Jesus. For those of you considering whether to see … Continue reading
- 02/28/2014 02:28 AM
Quote of the Week: St. Augustine
In your great wisdom you, who are our God, speak to us of these things in your Book, the firmament made by you. — St. Augustine, Confessions (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992), book XIII, section 18, 326.
- 02/25/2014 02:44 AM
Music Points to a Creator
This February marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in America. My article “Beatlemania Plus 50: Can Christians Appreciate the Fab Four?” explored these musicians’ religious views and how believers can navigate choices in popular entertainment. The Beatles in … Continue reading
- 02/21/2014 03:27 PM
Quote of the Week: Restless Heart
The man doesn’t find the truth the truth finds the man. — Bishop Ambrose to Augustine, from the movie Restless Heart (Ignatius Press, 2013)
- 02/18/2014 02:52 AM
Reflections on a War Movie: Lone Survivor
I’ve seen most of the war movies made over the last seventy years (see “Ken’s Top 50 World War II Films”). I rank Band of Brothers, the 10-part miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks about the real-life heroism … Continue reading
- 02/14/2014 02:49 AM
Quote of the Week: Paul Helm
The classical Christian theologians, Augustine of Hippo, say, or Aquinas or John Calvin, each took it for granted that God exists as a timelessly eternal being. They accepted it as an axiom of Christian theology that God has no memory, … Continue reading
- 02/11/2014 02:01 AM
Beatlemania Plus 50: Can Christians Appreciate the Fab Four?
This month marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first trip to America. I remember how depressed my family was following President Kennedy’s assassination, but how excited my siblings and I were to see The Beatles on our black-and-white television … Continue reading
- 02/07/2014 04:01 PM
Quote of the Week: Louis P. Pojman
In a sense, philosophy is just hard thinking about the important issues of life. — Louis P. Pojman, Philosophy: The Pursuit of Wisdom (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1994),12.
Last Modified June 18, 2011