A couple of listeners emailed in about a recent episode (episode 267), where you said, “God is not male.” Can you please expand upon this, Pastor John? Why is it important to stress that God is not male?
Let me say what I mean first by “God is not male.” I mean that from eternity, God has not had a body — a physical body — and therefore, he doesn’t have male features: facial hair, musculature, male genitals, no Y chromosome, no male hormones, things like that. “Male” is a biological word and God is not a biological being. So men and women should not think of God as a man. Now Jesus, yes. He is a God-man, not a God-woman. The incarnation never ceases. Jesus never loses his identity as the God-man Jesus Christ. He was male on the earth. He is now a man in heaven and not a woman.
Spirit, Not Biological
But we should not think of God the Father or the Holy Spirit as men. They are spirit, not biological. Now why does this matter? Well, the first reason it matters is because it is true. The second reason it matters is because thinking of God as male and, thus, biological, would be diminishing to God. God is infinitely above these creaturely distinctions. And the third reason it matters is because it guards us against drawing wrong conclusions from these facts. God is revealed as father, not mother. God is revealed as a king, not a queen. I don’t mean that there aren’t motherly metaphors for him. I am just saying, mainly father, not mother; mainly king, not queen; mainly Lord, not lady.
In the marriage with the church, Christ is the husband, and the church is the bride. He is not the bride and she the husband. He installed priests in the Old Testament — all of them were men. Jesus comes into the world as a man and not as a woman. He invests his unique apostolic authority in twelve men, not twelve women.
Male and Female Image Bearers
Now there are all kinds of false conclusions you could draw from those facts. And saying that God is not male is important because it prevents us from drawing some erroneous conclusions from God’s fatherliness or his kingliness or his lordliness. God has other traits, especially of motherliness. And everything — here it gets really important for the women, so I hope they are listening carefully — created in woman that sets her off from man comes from God and reflects something of his image.
Woman was not modeled on some other god. There is no other god. She was modeled on God. When the Bible says that both woman and man were created in the image of God, it means that she is who she is based on the model of her Creator. So it is important to say that God in his essential divine being — not referring to his incarnate union with humanity, but in his essential, divine essence — is not male, and God is not female. Maleness and femaleness are God’s creation as biological bearers of masculinity and femininity, both of which are rooted in God.