at the end of the day, when the dust settles, is the Creator of the universe actually really male?

at the end of the day, when the dust settles, is the Creator of the universe actually really male? May 18, 2014


[Short post, I know. Not sure what else to say after reading this, but three quick thoughts that if I have to explain it wouldn’t help: (1) Understand metaphorical language; (2) Understand antiquity; (3) Use your imagination.]

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  • LorenHaas

    Not even “No, but…”?

    • peteenns


      • peteenns


  • Stephen

    There’s another way to look at this too: to the extent that various biblical writings depict their God(s) as male, that may sometimes (and in varying ways) illustrate those writings’ participation in ancient ideas about gods and gender that contemporary Evangelicals would find incredibly problematic…which of course makes it ironic that some conservative Evangelicals are among the most vocal proponents of affirming their God’s masculinity.


    • peteenns

      Good point, although some are indeed quite comfortable with some of those disturbing elements and go to great lengths to defend them.

  • I almost didn’t click through. Weary of this topic dominating my Twitter feed. But so glad I did. Yup. Not much more to say, is there?

    • peteenns

      Glad you didn’t wear out your scroll down key.

  • brianleport


  • Heretic! 😉

  • Muff Potter

    I still say that God looks like Gandalf (tongue in cheek and credit to Ian McKellen of course).

  • Taylor Weaver

    Ha! The responses are amazing!

  • Angelika Enns Gorham

    Bible =Patriarchal society….. check out creation stories of Native Americans (matriarchal). Whole different ball game.

  • Taylor Weaver

    After taking a bit more look into this Strachan fellow’s twitter page, it really seems as if he has some sort of unnatural distaste toward Rachel Held Evans. I don’t particularly pay attention to the mudslinging that seems to happen often in evangelicalism, so maybe I am late to noticing his attachment to Evans. To suddenly just post some childish garbage about heresy connected to a two year old post? What an asshat.

  • I wonder if it would be worth at least noting that to insist the 1st member of the Trinity is male might just be heretical…if you’re into that sort of thing.

  • Nein!

  • Rebecca Trotter

    Excellent post. And exactly the right length. 😉

  • Brian P.

    Yes and no. In the contemporary world we have several definitions of gender. For instance, there’s chromosomal gender. Does someone have the XY genotype? If so, he’s male by chromosomal consideration. If not, it could be that she has XX genotype and is female. Or, it could be that he or she has chromosomes that are neither of these and is intersexed. Human biology does not always align with human conceived ontology. Intersex persons are not rare; they’re in the one-in-a-thousand kind of range and you probably know a few. Next, there’s the expression of the genotype, the phenotype. Specifically, what are the gonads? I needn’t go into details here, but again, there’s male, female, and intersex with variety. And finally, I could point out social sex. How does one assign and self-assign gender roles in human culture. There’s much more to it than all this, but a good basic contemporary and informed understand of “what it means to male” (or female or other) should engage some sort of understanding of chromosomal sex, genital sex, and social sex. So now for some questions, what are God The Father chromosomes? Just asking it is a pretty bizarre question. About as anachronistically bizarre as asking where God The Son his Y chromosome (assuming he had one in order to be a perfect and circumcised Jewish male). Next question might be asking about God’s Gonads. Again, pretty bizarre. Soon, I’m going to have to recommend Howard Eilberg-Schwartz’s God’s Phallus to read. And then the next question concerns how does God operate in society, what gender role does He take on? That’s a much more comfortable question. And taking on a gender role is not really captured by dismissing it as “merely metaphor.” Identity is much richer than this. So… At the end of the day, is the Creator of the universe actually really male? Yes. In the mainstream Judeo-Christian tradition. But then again, often our dualistic ontologies exist only in our minds and not in the wet-and-organic physical world. Never mind any sort of metaphysical world.

  • Korey

    And this is the newly installed President of the CBMW…

    • Tim

      Oh great; another organization that pretends to decide for us what is biblical and what isn’t.

  • What’s really disturbing is the outrage at the concept that God might be She as well as He. I guess that would mean God has cooties, right?

    • Yep. What I keep hearing is, “Well, God’s not a man, of course. But He’s DEFINITELY not a woman.”

      Kinda telling.

  • TrevorN

    he-resy or her-esy, I wonder which he means…

  • Jackson C.

    Dr. Enns, just be glad Erik hasn’t read this post yet.

  • Deuteronomy 32:18
    18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;
    you forgot the God who gave you birth.

    Isaiah 42:14
    14 For a long time I have held my peace,
    I have kept still and restrained myself;
    now I will cry out like a woman in labor,
    I will gasp and pant.

    Isaiah 49:15
    15 Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
    Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.

    Isaiah 66:13
    13 As a mother comforts her child,
    so I will comfort you;
    in Jerusalem you will be comforted.

    Psalm 131:2
    2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    my soul is like the weaned child that is with me

    Matthew 23:37
    37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

  • Kim Fabricius

    Strachan’s statement should not even be flattered with the descriptive “theological”. It is yet another ideological salvo – or rather damp squib – in the culture wars that ravage American evangelicalism. Jeez, it’s over 40 years since Mary Daly famously observed that “if God is male, then male is God.” Androcentric power – that is what this is all about – along with a combination of fear and jealousy at Rachel Held Evans’ popularity and influence.

    Btw, I’m not sure if Brian P. is taking the piss in his comment about sexuality and gender, but mainstream Christian orthodoxy has never accepted that God is male, or even that God the Father is male; it has always believed that such God-talk, though foundational, is metaphorical, because it knows that God exceeds, transcends gender. Literal divine fatherhood, based on a wooden-headed understanding of biblical imagery – that was an Arian, er, heresy. I mean, just for the record like.

    • Brian P.

      I’m American. We don’t “take the piss.” And we don’t have that much familiarity with “mainstream Christian orthodoxy” other than to reappropriate those words. When Anglicans are left to translate, you get stuff like: “…he left him not one that pisseth against a wall…” We give our big-store Bible-buyers stuff like: “He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend.” Our popular theology is really, really bad. That’s why we post and comment online. That’s why we’re all now finally losing our religion. There are few places one can go in this land–associated with churches and not non-Evangelical academia–and have interesting dialogue about faith and beliefs. The big-money popular theology is rather wooden headed (and often cold hearted). Many are in fear. I doubt most of my pastors know too much about who Rachel Held Evans is. And I known they hardly know who Arian is. And I know they’re in fear about their called profession and its relationship to shifting American demographics.

  • I just read his Patheos blog post on Rachel Evans. Strachen doesn’t permit comments there. I did see on twitter a couple of days ago where he explicitly referred to her as a heretic. As I said then, her remark was provocative, but not heretical.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Stratchen is a clown. Sorry, based off that comment and other ridiculous musings he’s put on his blog (and he doesn’t allow comments . .so typical) . . .I agree, he’s not even worth a response. I know 6 year olds with greater theological depth.

  • God is genderqueer.

    Since many people don’t know what that is and will condemn it outright (it has the word queer in it, therefore it must be bad) here is a definition straight from wikipedia.

    Genderqueer people may identify as one or more of the following:

    having an overlap of, or indefinite lines between, gender identity and sexual and romantic orientation.
    two or more genders (bigender, trigender, pangender);
    without a gender (nongendered, genderless, agender; neutrois);
    moving between genders or with a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid);
    third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender;

  • What makes this so interesting is that even the most liberal/critical Christians, despite the complicated gender issues. still insist on presupposing some form or near relative of monotheism. At the very least a mother/father couple solves many of the problems.

  • Lucius

    I just thought I would ‘throw this out there’ simply because it makes perfect sense in my opinion.
    God is male: human males have protruding sexual organs; therefore they are the Positive gender (physically, that is).
    Universe/Void is female: human females have inverted sexual organs; therefore they are the Negative gender.
    Man -the Positive- enters Woman -the Negative- and Life is Created in this Unity of Opposites.

    A possible source of Patriarchal Theism: God the Positive Creative Principle synonymous with the protruding phallus of the man, released His Creative ‘Fluid’ (Prana, Chi, Ether, Holy Spirit, what have you) into the Negative Void, or Emptiness. God extends His Essence into/through the void, just as Man extends his essence into the ‘void’ of the internal Woman. Therein is created a child – in the image of the mother and father; just as God created the Universe by injecting His Will into the Void (or The Cosmic Womb if you prefer).

    This is mere speculation on my part, any thoughts? (- I could easily be wrong, and hopefully I have not offended anyone.)