During the sermon on Mother’s Day, I made the point that God is neither male nor female. Therefore, it is appropriate to think about the things we receive from the Lord that we often associate with mothers – things like tender loving care, compassion, understanding and sacrificial love.
While most people agreed with this point, the comment that God is neither male nor female raised a few questions. Let me try to answer a few of them.
The Bible describes God in masculine terms, using the designation “Father” and “He” to refer to God. However, “masculine” and “male” are two different things. A woman may have masculine tendencies but that does not make her a male. Likewise, God is described using masculine language, but that does not make him a male.
Because God is not human, he is neither male nor female. Male and female are categories that apply to humans and animals, not to God. They are distinctions based primarily on differences in our physical bodies and God does not have a physical body. This is why Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God’s image is equally reflected in males and females because he is neither male nor female.
So while we say that God is described using masculine language, we do not think that He is a male.
But what about Jesus? Here the answer changes. When the Bible refers to God, it is usually referring to God the Father. So when I say that God is not male nor female, I mean that God the Father is not male or female. Jesus, however, in his human nature is very truly a male. And because his human nature and his divine nature are one, it is fair to say that God the Son is a male. However, this does not make God the Father or God the Spirit males anymore than Jesus being a human makes them human.
But how did Jesus become a male if God is not male? When the Holy Spirit came on Mary, he did not impregnate her in the way that men impregnate women. He formed Jesus within her womb, using her DNA as part of the process. But it is not as if Mary contributed the X chromosome and the Holy Spirit contributed the Y chromosome as if somehow the Holy Spirit was the male in the process. Rather, Jesus was created male just like Adam was created male. In order for Jesus to become human he must be either male or female and God the Father chose for Jesus to be incarnated as a male and so the Holy Spirit caused that to happen – just as happened when Adam was created as a male person apart from God contributing any DNA to the process.
I hope this helps clarify some of the questions raised by my statement that God is neither male nor female.