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Is God Male? June 16, 2006

Posted by June in Artist Thinker Articles, Christianity, Philosophy, Religion.
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The most recent comment to my blog got me really thinking about something: Is God male?

I remember hearing people say that angels have no gender because they are spiritual beings who don't need one. I don't remember what the reasons for that are; but that made me wonder why God would need a gender.

It's true that God is called Father and Son; but are those gender designations or role descriptions?

To presume that God is male is to presume that God is somehow incomplete:

1 Corinthians 11:11-12
11
In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

Men are only one half of the puzzle. Women are the other half.

Genesis 2:18
18
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

One definite indication that God has no gender is these verses.

Genesis 1:26-28
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Genesis 5:1-2
1 This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man."

It is interesting to note that "adam" is the Hebrew word for "man".
Well, as you can see in these verses, God says the He will make man in His own image, in His likeness; yet goes on to say that "man" is both male and female together. This fact is made abundantly clear in Genesis 5 where it says that God created them male and female and called them "man".

Take particulate note of verse 27 in the first chapter, which says,"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

It goes from singular to plural yet still being the same creature. This is also done in the fifth chapter which, as you can see, also goes from singular to plural while still referring to one being.

So what does this mean? Well, if you believe in the Trinity, the meaning becomes quite clear. If you look up at the verses from the first chapter that I have posted there, you will see that God refers to Himself as "we" and "us" and "our". This plurality is made even more apparent in the original Hebrew version, which, apparently, uses the plural form "elohim", meaning "gods" in English. Yet this plural form is used in a singular format.

Man was made in the likeness of God in that they were two separate beings yet one flesh, one person.

So why is this significant to determining the gender of God? Well, if God the Father and God the Son were both male (The Holy Spirit is more of an intangible being that seems to mostly do the bidding of the Father and the Son. This is made more firmly apparent by calling him the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost, using earthly terms that we understand.), then the image is imperfect. One of the two was represented imperfectly.

BUT, if God has no gender but rather the terms "Father" and "Son" are used to give us a picture of what role God has in our life using earthly terms that we understand, then gender would not matter in this picture, in this image of God. All that would matter is that the two be separate beings of one flesh, one person, which they were.

Genesis 2:21-24
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

So why is God referred to as a "he"? Well, the angels are also referred to as "he". The word "he" doubles as a neutral term for both genders.

So why was Jesus, who was God the Son, a man? Well, there are various reasons why Jesus came down as a man. One would be that, at that time period, sons were viewed as equal with the father but not daughters.

John 5:18
For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Another would be that Jesus had to come down as a man to atone for the sins of Adam, whom the woman is a part of. Take note, Jesus was born of Mary, a woman, but not of any earthly man. This means that Jesus lacks the Y-chromosome from an earthly man that is only passed down from father to son; but this does mean that Jesus had Eve's mtDNA, which is only passed down through the mother. Does this mean that Jesus did not descend from Adam? No, because Eve is Adam. Thus, God's promise to Eve that her offspring would "crush the head of the snake" was fulfilled, for Jesus was the only man ever to be born of only an earthly woman.

Another reason would be that no one would take a woman seriously.

Another reason would be to give the perfect picture of the church being Jesus' bride for whom He died for and whom He is the head of. A man, the head of the house, is supposed to lay down his life for his wife, not the other way around.

Ephesians 5:25
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

If God was male just because Jesus came down as a man, then God is also a bush since God appeared as a burning bush to Moses. God is also a pillar of fire and a cloud, which God appeared to the Israelites as. The Holy Spirit is actually a dove since that is how the Spirit materialized at Jesus' baptism.

But the most definitive piece of evidence is this:

Philippians 2:4-11
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That clearly states that Jesus came in the likeness of a human and was found to be in the appearance as a man.
Now stop right there. Genesis says that man was created in the image of God. If that meant that man looked like God, then God would not have to make Himself look like a human and God would not have to make Himself look like a man because God would already have the appearance of a man. That is more proof that when God refers to "image" He is referring to the fact that Adam and Eve are two yet one and more proof that God is not male.
Jesus was a man, not by nature but by form. His blood could be shed for man to atone for our sins because it was the blood of a man but it was the soul of God, who is perfect.

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Comments»

1. Natalie Rae - August 29, 2006

Actually ‘adham’ has a closer meaning to ‘clay’ or ‘earth’ – which is why the Gnostics played with the term ‘earthman’ or ‘clayman’ in their reinterpretations on creation

2. June - August 31, 2006

Actually, I do not doubt that it closely relates to “clay” or “earth” given how God created Adam; but, apparently, the Hebrew word “adam” is used not just when naming Adam. It is used all throughout Genesis whereever the word “man” appears.

I googled “adam” and found this from one of my favorite sites, which also puts forth the idea of unity and plurality:
An in-depth look at the translation of the Hebrew word adam
So Genesis 1:26-27 actually reads in Hebrew:

26 Then God said, “Let us make adam in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created ha-adam in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Basically, if not for propriety in English and an ease of reading, it should read as this in English:

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created the man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Here is another fairly useful link that tries to interpret these adam‘s to mean multiple Adams to try to fit the Bible into the template of evolution. So I would take this one with a grain of salt; but it is useful in discovering the many variations of “adam” in Genesis.
Re: 2-adam, need Hebrew help

1. Heb. adam: a. = “man”: i. man as male and female (Gen 1:26;
5:1,2*); b. = “Adam” i. Adam* [Gen 4:25; 5:1*,3*,4*,5]

2. Heb. ha adam: a. = “the man”: i. man as male and female (Gen
1:27); ii. Adam (Gen 2:7,8,15,16,18,19*,20*,21*,22,23*;
3:8,9*,12,22,24); b. = “Adam” (Gen 3:20*; Gen 4:1).

3. Heb. va adam a. = “a man” : i. man in general (Gen 2:5)

4. Heb. le adam a. = “man”: i. Adam (Gen 2:20*,25); b. = “Adam” (Gen
3:17*,21*)

*AV “Adam”

You can take this guy’s view that the “ha-adam” in Genesis 1:27 is referring to all of mankind; but I would like to point out that by his own admission that “ha-adam” appears everywhere else as referring directly to Adam. He assumes that the “ha-adam” (or “the man”) in Genesis 1:27 is generic precisely because it is referring to both male and female; BUT, if my interpretation of singulars and plurals is correct and actually is used to denote unity yet plurality, then his point is moot.

Using this guy’s key, Genesis 5:1-5 reads as follows:

1 This is the written account of adam’s line. When God created adam, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “adam.” 3 When adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. 4 After Seth was born, adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5 Altogether, adam lived 930 years, and then he died.

Now to assume that the adam‘s before this refer to mankind as a whole is to assume that Seth somehow descended from a multitude of people. The creation story was reiterated here before the geneologies for a reason.

Now stay with me here. I believe that this piece of the geneology is referencing both Adam and Eve. Not only did the author reiterate the creation of man stressing the singular and plural, but he also reiterated the account of Seth’s birth in which he says, “When adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.”
The in depth account in Genesis 4:25 on Seth’s birth says that Eve named Seth:

25 Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”

This second account in Genesis 5 says that adam lived 130 years before Seth’s birth. Were not Adam and Eve created on the same day?
Also, this section of the geneologies gives more leway to this interpretation because, although the rest of the geneology states that so-and-so became the father of so-and-so such as here:

6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. 7 And after he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. 8 Altogether, Seth lived 912 years, and then he died. 9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. 10 And after he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters.

Yet the account of Seth’s birth does not say that Adam became the father of Seth. As you can see above, it simply states that adam had a son in his likeness and image. It could have easily said,”When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.”; but it does not, as you can see above. Why? (Note: Saying that he is in his own likeness and image does not mean that he looked like him. Otherwise, both Adam and Eve literally look like God, which I have shown is impossible; otherwise, he would also be a bush, a pillar of fire, and a cloud.)

I think it’s because Eve is a part of Adam. She is literally his flesh. She came from him and is him. Returning the English Adam’s and man’s to the Hebrew gives this a pronounced effect. It’s as if the author recounted the creation story and stressed the fact that God named both male and female “man” in order to give the notion that he is referring to them both.

One might say that there is a problem in that Eve would have had to have died on the same day as Adam; ooooooor maybe not. The text says that adam lived 930 years. It does not give an exact day. It’s entirely possible that either Adam or Eve died first then the other in the same year. It’s happened numerous times especially with couples that have had such a close relationship.

I realize that I have gone off track. I may not even be making any sense to you….. Discovering that second link has opened up a new argument in me. 😀
Basically, your question or…whatever that was has been answered. The Hebrew word “adam” is most definitely the word for “man”. Even the evolutionists agree.

3. Natalie Rae - August 31, 2006

I would interpret (based on the readings that are referenced in my article on Eve) that the first use of adham would be appropriately rendered into today’s terminology as humankind. (or traditionally mankind) –> on the creation of eve it seems that the sexes or genders were created – Trible writes interestingly on the recognition of gender on the creation of eve. Indeed, there are a number of early Jewish traditions that speak of an androgynous creation first in adham….I’ve dealt with alot of this, as I said above – in my article on eve.

btw – I don’t see what in G-d’s name the evolutionists have to do with this arguement. — their use of the term adam as the first man is just used conveniently, because in the west, this is our ‘central’ creation myth. it is most certain that the first two people were not adam and eve, and that they most certainly did not originate in the ‘middle eastern’ region that genesis refers to.


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