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Father? Mother? It?

By Brock Hartwigsen

religion, articles, christianity

Instead of "Our Father who art in heaven" some say we ought to pray, "Our Mother who art in heaven." These people claim that the Bible was written in a male- dominated society. This was a time, they claim, when women were nothing but property, owned and sold by man. They explain that the male-chauvinistic attitude of the writers caused them to portray God as masculine. They believe that the worship of a male god promotes violence, war, and death. Whereas, women are more peaceful, loving and compassionate than men. Therefore, the worship of a female god would produce peace and harmony.

Others say we ought to pray, "Our Parent who art in heaven." They argue that God really has no sexual orientation. He is neither male nor female and thus should be viewed in an asexual way.

What both groups fail to realize or choose not to believe is that the writers of the Bible did not decide to use a masculine concept for God. It was God who referred to himself in the masculine form.

Spiritual beings have no sexual orientation, neither does a spirit have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). In the resurrection we will be changed (1 Cor. 15:52). In Philemon 3:21 we are told "our vile body" will "be fashioned like" Jesus' glorious body. Jesus taught we would become like the angels and "neither marry nor be given in marriage" (Matt. 22:30). In the resurrection we will "be fashioned like" Jesus, and like the angels, have no sexual orientation.

God is referred to in the Bible as masculine because he chose to reveal himself to humanity in the masculine form. Angels always appear as men when they assume human form. When God inspired the writers of the Bible to write about him, he chose the masculine terminology. The inspired writers wrote "as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21). Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven." Obviously, there is something about the father image that projects the nature of God and the relationship he desires to have with his creature.

In all languages, ancient and modern, we have three genders: male, female, and neuter. Webster defines it as the "subject or direct object or indirect object of a verb or object of a preposition usually in reference to a lifeless thing." God is not a "lifeless thing," and inspired writers never refer to him as it.

The Bible plainly teaches that authority lies with man. In Genesis 3:16, Eve is told that because of her sin Adam "shall rule over thee." This situation was not limited to Eve but has passed to all women. Over 4,000 years later, in 1 Corinthians 11:3, God tells us that "the head of the woman is man." God's choosing to refer to himself as male instead of female implies his authority. God has authority over everything and is not in subjection to anything (Rom. 9:20-21).

Neither God nor Bible writers are chauvinistic, which means "notorious, bellicose, unreasoning and boastful." He is King of kings and Lord of lords and possesses unlimited power. To try to change the image of God from male to female or from male to neuter is to reject the will of God. It is like a little child trying to correct his father. Who are we to correct God?


Published May 1996