This page is in response to a dialog I heard on the radio from a Christian whom I respect for his usually excellent teaching. However, his response to the question, "Is God male?" left much to be desired. The issue was skirted around and never directly answered, although the implied answer was "yes." Since many skeptics claim that the Bible is sexist, it is good to know what it actually says about this issue.
Nature of God
The Bible has a lot to say about the nature of God. God is personal and emotional. In fact, in the phrase, "God created mankind in His image," it is generally accepted that the characteristics that distinguish us from other animals are those that reflect the nature of God. If the Bible were referring to only physical characteristics when it states that man was created in the image of God, it would not say many of the things it does about His nature. For example, the Bible states that both males and females are created in the image of God.1 Unless God were a hermaphrodite (having both male and female sexual organs), this phrase could not refer to purely physical characteristics. In addition, there are numerous other verses in the Bible that describe God as having non-human physical characteristics, such as feathers and wings.2 Should we think of God as being an overgrown chicken? Certainly not! God is so unlike humans, that the Bible often paints word pictures to give us a glimpse of what God is like.
God in three persons
The Bible says that God exists in the form of three persons, although He is one God. These three persons are said to be the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. According to the Bible, nobody has ever seen the Father, except the Son and the angels.3 The Father is the fully-expressed glory of God in heaven. The Son is the image of God4 expressed in bodily form,5 who existed in eternity past as part of the Godhead,6 but voluntarily gave up some of his glory to come to earth as a Jewish male.7 In this sense, the representation of God on earth could be said to be male. Likewise, every time "The Angel of the Lord" appeared on earth in the Old Testament, He appeared as a male. Most Christian theologians interpret the appearance of God in the Old Testament as the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. The third person of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit, who works through believers, but has never appeared on earth in human form.
Is God in heaven male?
When most people think of God, they think of Him in His glory in heaven. So, the question, "Is God male" usually refers to God as He exists in heaven. The Bible always refers to God using male pronouns. Does this mean that God is physically male? In other words, does God have male sexual organs? Surprisingly, the Bible does address this question indirectly, through a number of different statements about the nature of God and what He is like. Jesus said that God is "spirit."8 Although not defined extensively in the Bible, a spirit is an entity that has no physical body. After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples that He had returned in bodily form, saying, "a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."9 If God is a spirit as the Bible says, and a spirit has no flesh or bones, then God cannot be male in physical form. God is not male, since He is not a physical, but a spiritual, being.
Additional notes about sexual identity in heaven
The Bible indicates that things will be really different in heaven compared to earth. Many religions (e.g., Mormonism, Islam) make claims that heaven will be a place where males will have their choice of multiple female "companions." This tends to make those religions more appealing to human males, but makes no sense from a biblical perspective. The Bible says that once we die, there will be no marriage.10 This is because we will be "married" to God Himself.11 Biblical marriage was designed as a system to produce and raise children as a family unit to encourage them to choose to be with God in heaven. Once in heaven, there is no need for reproduction. Jesus also indicated that the angels (who are spirits) do not marry either. Given these facts, it would seem very strange that God would exhibit any kind of sexual characteristics.
- Who is God?
- If God Created Everything, Who Created God?
- What Will Heaven be Like?
- Sexism in the Bible?
- Man, Created in the Image of God- How Man is Unique Among All Other Creatures on Earth
- So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
- Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my
soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the
disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1)
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge... He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:2-4)
- "Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father." (John 6:46)
- And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
- For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9)
- In the beginning was the Word [Jesus Christ, the Son], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)
- ...Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
- "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)
- "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 24:39)
- Jesus was asked a complicated
question about heaven by the Sadducees (a religious sect that did not believe in
the resurrection of the dead) that directly leads us to this conclusion (Matthew
The Sadducees gave a scenario of a woman who married 7 men (sequentially,
since they all died prematurely) in her lifetime. They asked whose wife she
would be in heaven. Jesus answered:
"You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:29-30)In other words, there will be no marriage or sexual differences among those in heaven, since reproduction is unnecessary. This concept is supported by other biblical verses that indicate that males and females are spiritually equal (Galatians 3:28).
- "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:7-9)
We are what we think.
- 03/24/2015 02:27 AM
The Resurrection: Christianity’s Most Dangerous Idea
Originally published in Reasons to Believe’s ezine, New Reasons to Believe, vol. 2, no. 3 (2010) “Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”1 This line—from my favorite book in … Continue reading
- 03/17/2015 02:55 AM
More Deaths in the Name of God—or No Gods?
Originally published in Reasons to Believe’s ezine, New Reasons to Believe, vol. 2, no. 1 (2010) Great evil has been done in the name of Christ. This charge, a frequent objection to historic Christianity raised especially by the new atheist … Continue reading
- 03/10/2015 02:02 AM
God as the Source of Knowledge
Originally published in RTB’s ezine, New Reasons to Believe, vol. 1, no. 1 (2009) Does the Bible indicate where knowledge comes from? Since evolutionary processes can’t guarantee true beliefs naturalism as a worldview faces insurmountable problems. For its part, the … Continue reading
- 03/03/2015 02:08 AM
World Religions: The Sage and the Savior
Among the world’s great religious leaders, two became far-reaching moral instructors of humanity. Confucius (the sage) laid down the ethical foundation for much of Asian civilization. Jesus of Nazareth (the Savior) taught moral lessons that distinctly shaped the ethical nature … Continue reading
- 02/24/2015 02:31 AM
How We Got the Bible, Part 3
This week we’ll be finishing up a series on the biblical canon, a topic that has been a source of discussion, debate, and controversy since the beginning of Christianity. We’ve covered the doctrine of divine inspiration and standards for recognizing … Continue reading
- 02/18/2015 12:07 PM
How We Got the Bible, Part 2
Last week RTB editor Maureen Moser and I began a discussion of the biblical canon, including the doctrine of inspiration and the criteria for recognizing canon, particularly for the New Testament. But as we noted, the branches of Christendom view … Continue reading
- 02/10/2015 02:22 AM
How We Got the Bible, Part 1
Earlier this year, scholars announced the discovery of what might be the oldest known copy of the Gospel of Mark (see here and here). A fragment of Mark’s book was found on ancient papyrus used to create a mummy mask. … Continue reading
- 02/03/2015 02:14 AM
World Religions: The Prince and the Lord
Among the world’s great religious leaders, two came to be viewed as representing almighty God in human form. In traditional Hinduism, the god Vishnu appeared or descended into human form as Krishna. In historic Christianity, Jesus Christ entered human history … Continue reading
- 01/27/2015 02:22 AM
From the Archives: Understanding Islam in the Twenty-First Century
It’s one of the fastest growing religions in the world, it’s been around since the seventh century, and it is regularly in the news—often associated with atrocities committed by its most militant members (the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the Boko … Continue reading
- 01/20/2015 02:23 AM
An Elephant in the Resurrection Skeptic’s Room
Today, Reflections offers a guest article by Milt Chamberlain **** Skeptic Richard Carrier writes, “Many things could be said which cast doubt on the story of the Resurrection of Jesus by God…since I cannot rationally bring myself to believe this … Continue reading
Last Modified June 18, 2011