God described as a female

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Posts 11
Eugene Thomas | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Mar 4 2015 6:28 AM

Where are places in the biblical text God is referred to as a female?

Posts 412
StephenMcC | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 6:54 AM

Never..... but he isn't male either. Do you mean the imagery of God as female?

Search "God WITHIN 5 Words feminine" gives many results like:


God Portrayed as Mother

God-language frames the infinite in human concepts and experiences. Describing God as having human form and characteristics is anthropomorphism. God speaks, has hands and feet, and sits on a throne.
With few exceptions, in the Hebrew Scriptures God language is masculine in gender. God is featured as an adult male. This is not accidental, but it is disconcerting in a modern society in which men and women call for equal rights and interchangeable or generic roles. Further, women (and men) who have been abused by men may become alienated from God by male characterizations of Deity. Even the term father can create fear, revulsion, and distancing, rather than conveying the intended solace, security, and affection.
God transcends gender. Unfortunately, however, neither Hebrew nor English has a singular, personal, inclusive pronoun by which to refer to God when the masculine metaphor is not intended.
In Hosea, God is variously pictured as a husband, a lover, the Holy One, the Most High, an offended parent—as well as a mother. Hosea challenges our exclusively male characterization of God. In the likeness of a mother, God carries the child through its infancy in the years of journeying through the wilderness. A mother affectionately and tenderly bonds with her infant by laying it against her cheek and bending forward to offer her breast to the nursing child (Hos. 11:4). The book of Hosea pictures God as a mother.
The feminine characterization of God also surfaces in the book of Isaiah. God, Israel’s Creator, embraces the function of both parents: as father, God begot Israel; as mother, God gave him birth (Isa. 45:10). When the child grew to adulthood, he turned against his divine parent in the worship of other gods. God expresses anguish over disobedient Israel in the agonizing cry of a woman in labor (42:14). God could never forget the erring son, Israel. Even if it were possible for a human mother to forget a child to whom she had given birth, it would remain impossible for God to forget the people Israel (49:15). Therefore, let Israel know that God will continue to offer a mother’s comfort by restoring the exiles to Jerusalem (66:12). Here the feminine characterization of God communicates depth of bonding, compassion, and nurture of a kind and to a degree which the “father” language and image does not convey.


Allen R. Guenther, Hosea, Amos, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1998), 184–185.

Posts 1257
HJ. van der Wal | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 7:06 AM

If you have the Cultural Concepts Database you can search the Factbook for "God as mother".

Posts 86
J David Shuttleworth | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 7:32 AM

Remember this verse in John 4:24 If God is either male or female how about the angels?

I know that all of you Greek scholars and other scholars could explain that God is masculine as far as grammar is concerned. 

I would like to understand why this question comes up?

God Bless you all!!

Posts 10178
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 7:43 AM

Oh wow.  This looks like a slippery slope.  As a member of the literalist denomination, I always ask our smiling pastor exactly how he knows the Bible text is 'anthropomorphism'.  Especially when the first chapter of Genesis is in the exact opposite direction ('made like').  And the jews were regarded by the greeks/romans as quite 'down to earth', to put it mildly.

Plus let's look at the evidence.  Jesus, when presented the argument of which 'side' his disciples should sit on in heaven, obviously a 'side' wasn't at issue.  It was 'which' side.  Left or right.  And Peter certainly located Jesus relative to God in what we'd call a 'physical way'.  Stephen hopefully wasn't dreaming when he looked up into heaven and saw .... what?   And Paul was reluctant to give up 'body'; it just didn't have to go to the doctor all the time.

Before someone gets wound up (ChristianDiscourse!!), I'm actually leading to another issue which merits a 'resource' ... in the OT, other males were assigned female roles/nature without too much bother.  I've never heard Moses' gender being questioned.  Plus if I remember right, even some of the Ugarit gods bounced around on role.


Posts 412
StephenMcC | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 8:07 AM

Denise:
Oh wow.  This looks like a slippery slope.

I hope not. I really dislike reading these kind of exchanges on the forum and I hope my quote above hasn't started it. Please don't start a debate.

Eugene, have you found an answer by the above responses?

Posts 164
Niko | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 8:21 AM

I don't really have the time to read through it but I noticed that Logos' book The Early History of God has a section called:

Excursus: Gender Language for Yahweh.

Posts 11
Eugene Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 8:40 AM

I am sorry this has become a issue about gender. In my bible study last night I was trying to show God was God and not a he/she and was now gathering Scriptures to show the use of both genders for the one person who refused to see God as God but as a he. Thanks for your help

Posts 10178
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 8:43 AM

Actually, Stephen, your answer was spot-on (ignoring the periodic demands for a female pronoun/verb-form to accomodate imagery).  The big bulk of God as female was in the 2-3rd century, before the bishops finally got a handle on the problem.  Was reading an article on Nag Hammadi yesterday.

Eugene, not trying to 'start a debate' as Stephen worries about, but the issue you're struggling with, is trying to get the Scripture to support a common belief.  Your friend in Bible class has the upper-hand in the discussion (since you qualified your question to 'the Bible'). 


Posts 898
Justin Gatlin | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 9:09 AM

I got this result, emphasis added.

First, while it is true that the Bible uses masculine metaphorical language for naming God (though God is never literally male), it is also true that the Bible never employs feminine metaphorical language to name God. True, God is sometimes said to be or act in ways like a mother (or some other feminine image),10 but never is God called “Mother” as He is often called “Father.” Respect for God’s self-portrayal in Scripture requires that we respect this distinction. While we have every right (and responsibility) to employ feminine images as analogies to some aspects of God’s nature and ways, as is done often in Scripture itself, we are not permitted, by biblical precedence, to go further and to name God in ways He has not named Himself. He has named Himself “Father” but not “Mother.” This stubborn fact of scriptural revelation must itself restrain our talk of God.
Second, one might be tempted to dismiss the above “factual” point by appeal to the inherently patriarchal culture in which our biblical language of God was framed. But appeal to culture shows just how odd and even unique it is that Israel chose to use only masculine (and not feminine) language when naming God. The fact is that the most natural route Israel might have taken is to follow the lead of the nations surrounding her, which spoke with regularity and frequency of their deities as feminine.11 That Israel chose not to do this shows her resistance to follow natural and strong cultural pressures, and it indicates that she conceived of the true God, the God of Israel, as distinct from these false deities.


Bruce A. Ware, “Tampering with the Trinity: Does the Son Submit to His Father?,” in Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem, Foundations for the Family Series (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002), 237–238.

I tried to run a clause search of every time God is referenced in the OT in Analysis, so I could sort by the gender of the words referring to God, but the search has been going for 2 hours on this slow laptop. If this search ever finishes, I will verify the claims of Ware in the article.

Posts 787
James Hiddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 9:22 AM

H.-J.van der Wal:

If you have the Cultural Concepts Database you can search the Factbook for "God as mother".

Didn't know about that resource thanks for mentioning it Yes

Posts 5250
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 10:48 AM

James Hiddle:

H.-J.van der Wal:

If you have the Cultural Concepts Database you can search the Factbook for "God as mother".

Didn't know about that resource thanks for mentioning it Yes

Thankfully God is neither male no female (yes God incarnated as the man Jesus) but ascribing sex to God is limiting in our human concepts. Calling God Father is a heritage that I value. But I remember a sermon spoken many years ago by the Dean of the Cathedral in Calgary. In that sermon he talked about a man who literally to could think of nothing but his abusive father, indeed everytime he said our father who art in heaven the memory of his father beating him and holding him face down in a toilet flooded his mind. For those of us who had good fathers God as Father is a wonderful image but for others it is a bad image. God is our loving source, since we believe God created everything, in our limited understanding it is natural for us to ascribe both male and female imagery to God, in the Patriarchal times when men were considered to be the sole contributor to creation of life planting seed in the fertile ground of woman. It was most natural to see the Creator God as male, the source of life, yet even in that culture as you see, there are passages the give a maternal description for God. I may not overly like referring to God as mother, but it is not unbiblical but perhaps continues to promote a wrong idea about God, that God has gender as we understand it.

-dan

Posts 898
Justin Gatlin | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 12:00 PM

James Hiddle:

H.-J.van der Wal:

If you have the Cultural Concepts Database you can search the Factbook for "God as mother".

Didn't know about that resource thanks for mentioning it Yes

The extremely small list of verses is interesting. There is nothing really conclusive there to support the idea of calling God mother. I got better results from an Everything search of "God AND gender" than from male or female. I also found an article in Themelios about it.

Posts 113
Mark Prim | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 12:46 PM

I'm a novice but could it be that God is neither male or female? But as His created beings together (male and female) we represent God, in part. He has created both male and female and in creating us did He not do so in His image. God is whole, so He could not be part, therefore He must represent both male and female characteristics. Maybe that is why two can become one in marriage, we represent God more fully in marriage. Do we not all have one Father? And does He not want to gather all of us under His wings like a hen? Maybe that is just me, a silly laymen in the church.

Posts 4763
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 12:47 PM

StephenMcC:

Denise:
Oh wow.  This looks like a slippery slope.

I hope not. I really dislike reading these kind of exchanges on the forum and I hope my quote above hasn't started it. Please don't start a debate.

Don't start a debate?? Sorry, bud, but the second you said...

StephenMcC:

Never..... but he isn't male either.

...you started at least two debates. And simply assuming that it's all just an issue of "imagery" won't get you off the hook you already baited.

You see, your unrecognized personal assumptions lead you to assume you are simply transmitting indisputable facts, but there are actually at least a couple of reasons why that isn't the case. In other words, what is obvious and therefore simple to you isn't really--even if you are right, and I personally don't think you are. But that isn't the point.

My point is...I think you are misappropriating a lot of angst when you say that you "really dislike these kinds of exchanges on the forum". Here's an epiphany: THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID. Think about it...the entire purpose of the software is to facilitate Biblical conversation. I'm fully aware of the websites "rules of conduct" and the reason why the rules are what they are. But in the battle of the anal retentives vs. the anal expulsives (if you don't like the terminology, blame Freud), neither one ever is, nor ever can be, "right". "Expulsion" is ontologically necessity, but it is also ontologically "messy". Messy can be a problem, a serious problem at times...but it also can't be avoided--just contained. Anal retentives like to avoid mess, and anal expulsives (like myself) don't mind a little mess here and there. It means things are happening, stuff is getting accomplished. The mess can get out of control, of course.

Again, my point here is that the rules of forum decorum aren't "right" in the clean, Pine Sol sort of way an anal retentive like yourself prefers to imagine, and constant referral to the compensatory rules can't negate the fact that they are in fact "compensating" for an inevitability. You, like "the Source" in the Matrix, may wish to alleviate your "matrix of perfection" of the inevitable messiness, but to do so is impossible--and to be quite plain, ultimately undesirable. The supposed cure is worse than the disease...and there is the unavoidable fact that Zion (if you are following the analogy) views your tendency as a disease in its own sight. To a point, that is an error as well.

Bob (whom I will refrain from labeling either AR or AE), almost miraculously sees all this, either by experience or temperamental default. His explanation of the EULA and his view of how it should be interpreted is that users "should be responsibly sensible"...a very pragmatic approach. As he said (my paraphrase), he generally views rules as an unpleasant necessity implemented with dependence upon generous doses of common sense, integrity, and equanimity. Effectively, I just described the Tohraah and its proper implementation. As a matter of creative ontology, of the two approaches, only anal expulsion is a legitimate form of existence. Nothing can survive total, perfect retention as a matter of principle. Everything, from bacteria to black holes, is designed to expel and cause mess...because the "mess", or the creation of it, is where the progress is.

So, even you, as a self-proclaimed AR (surprised?), even in the act of attempting to squelch AE activity, have inevitably created AE activity. YHWH, just as Denise suggested, explicitly affirms His male identity. All of the female descriptions, even the "self"-descriptions, are in clearly figurative contexts. That is my AE take, and I can defend it...but that's not my point. My point is that your AR declaration, assumed and perceived to be hypoallergenic, is a self-deception. The reality is you stepped in it and tracked all through the forum.

Now, as an anal expulsive, that doesn't bother me one bit...but if you could ever bring yourself to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth, it would probably result in self-loathing. That is where cognitive dissonance comes in. The best way to avoid the inevitable self-deception is to reject the validity of your natural inclination, which is to achieve "the perfect matrix" by policing or designing compliance to your way as a front-end ideal. That is historical sovietism. The solution? Just acknowledge, as even Neo had to, that "we need machines and machines need people."

YHWH says "do what I say or die". But He doesn't leave it there, poised under His jackboot. He has the expulsive temerity to then add, "See...I have set before you a choice," before eventually taking a prophesied 2000 year nap. How unsanitary!!! Whether Bob would agree with the theology or not, his business motivated acumen has generated the correct response. He used rules, in the EULA and the forum, to create a arena of "gray area" in which the game is designed to be played. The understanding is that the game can't be played perfectly or always within the lines, but the judgment is not one predicated on perfection but rather on the willingness and discipline to stay in the yard even though there is no chain on the collar. Where is the certainty in that? That...surprise, surprise!...is the beauty. There is no certainty...just willingness and desire to choose wisely. In other words, self-discipline, guided by the white law that creates the gray play space.

Jews have rejected the gray play space as not white enough, and have painted all manner of black space white. Christians have paraphrased the monk child, saying, "Don't attempt to play in the gray matrix...that is impossible. Only understand the truth: there is no matrix." If YHWH was awake, there would an enormous number of knuckles getting whacked with a wooden "spoon".

To sum up, it is an ontological essence that mess happen. Our job isn't to make sure it doesn't happen at all costs, and it especially isn't our job to take measures to keep it from happening under any circumstance. Stay in the gray. If you understood the Biblical analogy, you won't be scandalized by it. If you are scandalized, you might be a Christian. Surprise

Posts 2058
GaoLu | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 1:05 PM

Who plugged a nickel into David Paul?  Smile

Posts 4763
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 1:11 PM

LOL, Stephen did...what an odd thing for an upstanding AR to do!!

Btw, being the card-carrying AE I am, I repeat what I said after my last "nickel's worth". If you read this already, you may want to go back and give it another go.

I had some "mess" to clean up.

(Amazing the difference a couple of commas can make!)

Posts 787
James Hiddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 1:27 PM

Justin Gatlin:

James Hiddle:

H.-J.van der Wal:

If you have the Cultural Concepts Database you can search the Factbook for "God as mother".

Didn't know about that resource thanks for mentioning it Yes

The extremely small list of verses is interesting. There is nothing really conclusive there to support the idea of calling God mother. I got better results from an Everything search of "God AND gender" than from male or female. I also found an article in Themelios about it.

Sounds interesting I'll have to get that Themelios journal to read that article thanks.

Posts 8967
RIP
Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 2:36 PM

Gao Lu:

Who plugged a nickel into David Paul?  Smile

 My thoughts also.   Big Smile

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

Posts 6406
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 4 2015 3:04 PM

There's also a song by five finger death punch where they describe God as a female. The song is called "the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell." It's about the fall of humanity. But like others have stated God is neither male nor female he is spirit. The male and female imagery it's only used to illustrate concepts In order to make it easy for us to understand or at least try to understand God.

DAL

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