What Calling God "Him" Implies

It seems to me that when a person refers to a god as a “him” (or even “Him”) that they are implying that he is a male. Doesn’t that mean 2 things?

  1. That he has a penis.
  2. There are (or were) more than one of his species.

Regarding #1. The definitions of male according to dictionary.com:

It seems to me that, typically, male refers to biology. Is it somehow meaning something different when the religious use it?

Reagrding #2, if god is in fact a male it implies the existence of female gods. Doesn’t this imply that such a creature would be one individule in a race of such creatures? Otherwise what would would he need to be a male for? If there are no females, there are no need of males. If one exists without sexual reproduction, then the term male should not be aplied it seems.

Thoughts? I suspect it is just an ancient conceit held by folks that think men are better then women, and anything truly powerful must therefore be male. That is a highly suspect logic, but I am willing to listen to any attempts to persuade me that such is not the case.

DaLovin’ Dj

Well…perhaps it’s just a verbal custom, passed down for many centuries, which has ceased to retain its literal meaning???

A lot to do with the term ‘it’ being derogatory, and due to sexual inequality then ‘him’ got chosen instead of ‘her’. I doubt anyone much thinks god is male, as that would indeed necessitate your 1st point, and also either necessitate the 2nd, or leave God very lonely and frustrated :wink:

Cheers, Bippy

Actually, maleness is not an absolute concept. It’s determined in relation to femaleness. In all terrestrial species, one gender produces larger sex cells than the other. That one is the female, and the one with the smaller sex cells is the male. No frog has a penis or anything like it, but they do have males and females.

i agree with Bippy

(off topic?)
we call alota things female. ships, earth etc. but i just can’t bring to mind anything else that we might call male…

I am of the opinion that it has more to do with us trying to understand our relationship with God than anything else.

He is referred to as a father-type figure quite often. It is common for the father to be the strict disiplinarian in the family. This seems to fit with the Old Testament version of God quite well, in my mind anyway.

IIRC french and someother languages use the same word for “he” and “it.”
In english if you are talkin about “someone”, even if that someone may be of either gender the correct way to do it wouldbe he or him as well. for example:
If someone falls down he might skin “his” knee.
If someone falls down “they” might skin “their” knee sionce we are only talking about one person.

In the Lord’s prayer which is Jesus’ example to us how to pray, He said “Our Father.” That’s good enough for me.

Possibly because ‘Him’ is shorter than ‘the One Whom is neither male nor female, but both and neither concurrently’?

So you accept that your god is male. So does that mean you believe in female gods too? Understand that to be classified male implies that you are a sexually reproducing species and that there are females in your species. Is this what you think about your god? If not, then what do you mean when you say male?

DaLovin’ Dj

yeah, but the Bible also refers to God as El Shaddai, which means ‘the breasty one’, so perhaps there’s more to it than simple gender. (Genesis 17:1).

Anyway, I think (as there are no absolutes here) that the tendency to refer to the Judeo-Christian God as male stems from role rather than biological function; the typical role of the male (at least in the relevant societies to the Bible) has been one of provider and protector especially so in the case of male parents. To refer to God as male is an analogy.

Calling God “Him” implies that we come from a culture where males are more likely to be in positions of authority, and/or bigger and stronger. Jesus spoke of God as His Father because Jesus is a Jew, and was born and grew up in a largely patriarchal society.

Calling God “Him” is a term of reference, not a limitation on God.


Nouns in both Hebrew and Latin (and a slew of other languages) are either masculine or feminine? So the word for God would have to be one or the other.

For example, in Spanish Earth (tierra) is female, as is music (musica) and library (biblioteca). While fish (pescado) is male as is shoe (zapato), cheese (queso) and book (libro). It’s the nature of the language.

Why is God a male noun? Got me. Why is book a male noun yet library a female noun?

Hi, Mangetout -

The Septuagint translates “El-Shaddai” as “God the Almighty”. The Hebrew word “shad” is the one that can be translated “chest” or “breast”. It is not clear if “shaddai” came from that word, or the compound “she-day” or “one who is self-sufficient”, or the Akkadian word “sadu”, which would translate to “God of the mountains”.

The “mountains” translation might be a reference to Mount Sinai.



There should be no question mark after that first sentance, sorry.

But if this is litteral, why say “Our Father” and not “My Father” ? Are we all as much the sons and daughters of God as Jesus was?

Cheers, Bippy

While it is said that God created us in His image, it is more relevantly true that in our attempts to conceptualize God we created – well, not necessarily God per se but at least the concepts thereof – in Our image, the image of life and reality as we have known it.

And we have historically been a patriarchal people, androcentric and quite often misogynistic. Judging from the writings of such as St. Augustine, it looks as if there has been more confidence in the maleness of God and God-likeness of the male than in the human-ness and sentience of the human female.

Also, there is an old old myth of female power. Pre-agrarian Goddess-worhip? Veneration and fear of the powerful Mother in every individual’s life? Who knows…I read both Fisher and Janeway…but regardless of the source, the shadow does seem to be there, and much of androcentric religion does seem to exist in reaction to that shadow.

Thanks for that Shodan, I didn’t realise there was debate on that point (stupid of me really, there’s debate over every single word in the Bible).

Anyway, how about Isaiah 66:13:

And Genesis 1:27, for that matter:

'Cause you put books in a library? Thank you! I’ll be here all night!

As Mangetout noted, the use of the masculine pronoun has more to do with cultural language practices and God’s role than it does with a true gender identity for God. Much as we have a long-standing tradition of using “him” or the suffix/prefix “man” to denote a non-specific person of either gender (“mankind,” “chairman,” “spokesman,” etc.), God also gets the masculine form.

It’s widely accepted that men were the only people educated enough to write the books of the Bible, and that slant carries through clearly, as well.

It’s worth noting, though, that some religions make it a point to use either non-gender-specific or gender-inclusive terms for God. In my church, we always say, “Father-Mother God” when in formal discussion and try to just say “God” when it applies, rather than “he” or “him.” I believe there’s also a new translation or version of the Bible that is gender-neutral (though I have not seen it, myself).