This is a summary of the address given at the after-church fellowship meeting Lord's Day 25th March 2007
1. There are constant male references to God in the Scriptures
- The masculine terms 'he', 'his' etc, are uniformly used of God in the original languages of the Old and New Testaments. This is not a mere 'accident' of grammar.
- All the human terms employed are distinctly male apart from specific comparisons, i.e., when God compares particular aspects of his working to a mother as in Isaiah 66:13. All the direct titles and role references are invariably male (Father, king, Lord, husband etc.).
- Male terminology is used in the relationships within the Godhead. The Father eternally begets (not mother bears) the Son.
- The theophanies - manifestations of God in human form, are always male. Joshua 5:13-15; Judges 13:8; Isa 6:1; Daniel 3:24, 25.
- Christ in his incarnation became a man, not a woman.
- The personality of the Holy Spirit, when specially emphasised, is so done as male. Romans 8:16 compared with John 16:13
2. Men and women individually were made in the image of God, Genesis 1:27
- What this image consists of, that is: knowledge, righteousness and holiness. Following the fall some vestige of the divine image remains, not all was lost, though all righteousness and holiness was. Man retains knowledge that animals do not have - especially the knowledge to discern between good and evil though greatly impaired, Romans 2:15; 18.
- The image of God belongs equally to men and to women.
- A married couple is not necessary to reflect man in the image of God. Some have insisted that a man and a woman joined together in marriage properly set forth the divine image. However it is not necessary for a man and a woman to be united in matrimony for this divine image to be reflected. The image of God appears distinctly in the individual and this may be deduced from the fact that:-
a. The Lord Jesus Christ became a man only and did not enter into marriage. There could therefore be no shortfall in Christ's human nature fully reflecting God's image.
b. Not all are called to be married but all are made in the image of God. Matt. 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:37-38. Any sense of incompleteness in the single state is one of role on earth, and not lack of part of the image of God. Any suggestion therefore of double male/female terminology when referring to God on this basis is erroneous.
The question may then be asked, if man is made and woman is made in the image of God, why is God represented as distinctly male?
3. The male terminology is connected with the divinely appointed male role in this present life.
Both men and women are made in the image of God (Gen.1:26-27) and both reflect that image in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. Nevertheless, the role assigned to the man, rather than the woman, is one of authority, government and leadership. The Scriptures are quite explicit, for example, that in marriage and in the church, woman is to submit to man. God, however, always governs, exercises authority, leads and takes the initiative. He is never under authority or in submission or following.
God is not male in any physical sense as he is a Spirit. It is this God-given male role in this life that accounts for the male terminology that is applied to him. To ask the question, "is God male?" is to start at the wrong end. Male and female are terms describing a distinction God has made within those creatures that are procreative. As far as man is concerned, the male is the authoritative leader and therefore the male role in this life reflects, in a measure, that which is absolutely true of God. So, on the words "But the woman is the glory of the man" (1 Cor.11:7), Charles Hodge comments, "That is, the woman is in this respect subordinate to the man. She is not designed to reflect the glory of God as a ruler".
God is not male, but maleness in man reflects the authority and rule of his Creator.
- Any attempt to feminise the view of God distorts the truth of God and prevents fellowship with the true God for women as well as men.
- The gender-inclusive idea of God is designed to obliterate the gender role distinctions of God's word. It is connected with both feminism and homosexuality.
- The gender-inclusive argument maintains that gender distinctions in Scripture are merely cultural and not of permanent application. This pseudo-evangelicalism seems different to the liberal view of Scripture because it does not openly deny its authority, but by making arbitrary appeals to culture to selectively evade applying unpalatable parts of Scripture today, ends up treating Scripture in liberal fashion. We must resist all such assigning of Scriptural practice to a mere temporary concession to the culture of the time, unless we can verify it clearly from Scripture itself. This mode of random interpretation puts man back in the driving seat and allows for autonomous selectivity in deciding what Scripture is relevant and what is not.
A recording of the address on which this article is based is available here [sermonaudio.com]