God Is Genderfluid

God is not a man.

Even most traditional denominations would consider it a heresy to claim God as male.

However, there has been significant resistance to calling God by any pronouns other than "He". After all, "Father" is how Jesus described God. "He" is the pronoun used throughout most of the Bible to describe God. So why should we use anything else?

Well, for this post at least, I am going to ignore the benefits on our end, the benefits for women and genderqueer people to be able to envision a God who is like them, and even the benefits of men to consider a the feminine side of God.

For now, I am going to focus on how accepting that God is genderfluid is consistent with scripture, and therefore a more complete and accurate way to honor God.


1. God Created Both Men and Women In Their Image


God created Adam in God's own image, and then created Eve from Adam's rib, right? Wrong. That is actually a mashup of two different creation accounts. In the first account, in Genesis 1, both men and women are created in God's image. It's very explicit about this:

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
-- Genesis 1:27 NRSV

Then, in Genesis 2, the creation account is retold. In the second account, Eve is indeed created from Adam's rib, but nowhere there where Adam is created in the image of God:

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
-- Genesis 2:7 NRSV

So men and women (and everyone else, all humankind) are created in the image of God. God's image is enough to encompass male and female and all other expressions of humanity, and of course, so much more as well.

2. There Are Times God Identifies As Female


God has described themself using explicitly female and feminine imagery. Here's a few examples.

I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
-- Hosea 11:4 NRSV

Can you guess who lifts infants to their cheeks, bends down, and feeds them? Mostly nursing mothers.

You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you;
you forgot the God who gave you birth.
-- Deuteronomy 32:18 NRSV

Know many men who give birth?

There are additional images of God as a woman in Psalms and Isaiah, but they are pretty redundant with this point. There's a good list I referenced for this article here.

3. God Has a Female Identity


If you haven't heard of Sophia, I highly recommend you read a little about her. There's a thorough Catholic article here that is certainly worth a read. In short, though, Sophia (Greek for "wisdom") is an identity of God that is always referenced using "her" pronouns.

Sophia is talked about by Jesus multiple times in the Gospel (though only using the pronoun once in English translations:

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.
-- Matthew 11 NRSV

The Old Testament, originally written in Hebrew, used the word "chokhmah" for this wisdom aspect of God. In Hebrew, this is also a feminine word. (We don't have gendered words in English, but if you've studied any of the Romance languages you know what I'm talking about.) In the early Greek translations known as the Septuagint, this is translated as Sophia and with "she" pronouns, and in English translations as "wisdom", again with "she" pronouns:

Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
she has also set her table.
-- Proverbs 9:1-2 NRSV

Of course, this Sophia aspect of God is not meant to be interpreted as a fourth person of the trinity, or as a separate divine goddess type altogether. She is just another aspect of God, an identity of God, and she is always referenced as "she".

What do you call someone who sometimes goes by "he" and sometimes by "she"? Who sees male and female both in their image? Who gives birth, but also impregnates?

God is genderfluid, neither man nor woman, sometimes seeming more like one and sometimes like the other and sometimes like both and sometimes like neither. And that's awesome. Cis, trans, straight, queer, men, women, other, we all have more to learn from a God who defies our binaries.

Comments

  1. I have always thought of the Wisdom aspect of God to be the Holy Spirit- at least based on the text from Proverbs 8:22-31. I also look at the Hebrew word for spirit, as it first appears in Genesis. Ruah. A feminine Hebrew word. The theme of the Holy Spirit being a feminine aspect of God seems to appear multiple times and I have found that to be one of the most fascinating themes of God's genderfluid nature- or specific gender to a specific persons of the trinity. It is safe to say that Jesus was definitively male, so why would it be completely out of the question for another persons of the trinity to have a gender, like a female Holy Spirit? My understand of scripture is limited, but I enjoy engaging in these questions.

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    1. For ease of pronouns and clarity, I find it helpful to think of the Creator as 'they', the Spirit as 'she' and Christ as 'he', but from a theological point, I think it's clear that God transcends gender in all three persons of the trinity. Any pronouns, or indeed word or idea, we try to apply to God invariably falls short. The language is for our benefit alone, not God's, so I like approaches that maximize that. I've heard people use 'he' for all three persons, and it's just a confusing mess that still doesn't do God justice.

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