Why is God always a ‘he’?

Asked by Patrick

Why is God always a ‘he’?


In the Bible, God is indeed spoken of in masculine terms. Before we think about why this is the case, there needs to be two clarifications. Firstly, the Bible is clear that God is spirit (John 4:24) and thus should not be thought as a flesh and blood being. Being spirit and the sovereign Creator God, He thus transcends the physical limitations of human gender or sexuality. Secondly, the Bible tells us that both man and woman are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Thus God’s masculine ‘title’ does not imply that the female nature is alien to God. Instead, God has imprinted his qualities in both male and female, and ‘we may think of both as like God in their distinctively nonphysical, personal male and female qualities’ (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Elwell, pg 492).

As to why God is presented as ‘masculine’, two possibilities have been suggested. Firstly and primarily, the use of a personal pronoun is to denote God’s personhood. God is not an impersonal being devoid of personal qualities. The Bible clearly shows that He has personal capacities of intelligence, emotion, volition. More importantly, God is intensely relational and forms personal relationships within the Trinity and with his creatures. Thus addressing God as ‘he’ reminds us that God is personal rather than a mechanical, unfeeling force. Secondly, the masculine title might be used because of the distinctive functional responsibilities of males. In the Bible, God gave males and females different roles: the males are assigned headship whereas females are assigned helper-ship. As such, the masculine title might be better suited to denote God, to remind us of God’s authority and sovereign headship over creation, over both males and females.

An important point to note is that God’s masculine title does not imply that he does not value women. The equality of men and women in God’s creation and redemption shows clearly that He values both equally. Both are created in God’s image and wonderfully made. Both can be saved freely by Jesus Christ and be made beloved children of God – we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). When Jesus walked on earth, he had many women disciples whom he ministered to and accepted into his close community. Thus, God is a good God who loves and values all his creation, both men and women.

Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au

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