God’s not a dude.
Maybe you already know this, but I think we still need reminders of it. God isn’t a ‘he.’ God isn’t gendered.
I realize this goes against how we often speak of God. We use ‘he’ for God all. the. time. Countless English scripture passages refer to God as ‘he.’ Many hymns and worship songs use male pronouns to speak of God. Over and over in sermons and prayers, we hear preachers reference the Divine as a male.
If you’re a churchgoer, take a tally the next time you listen to a sermon, read a psalm, or recite a prayer in the liturgy. How many do you get?
For many reasons (patriarchy, maybe), using male pronouns to describe God has become the norm. However, I think we should change that.
God transcends gender and referring to God as a male, limits the Divine, in my opinion.
We know Jesus was a male, so, yes, referring to Jesus with male pronouns works. The Spirit is often described with female pronouns in Greek, so remember Spirit isn’t a ‘he’ either. (side note, why do we always put a definite article (the) before Spirit? It’s not the God or the Jesus, but we say the Spirit.) God, Jesus, and Spirit are not an ‘it’ either. Such a word seems to take away the personal nature of the Divine.
Language is expansive. God is even more so. And using expansive inclusive language to speak of the Divine Infinite is quite honoring.
While in seminary, I first heard a fellow classmate read aloud a passage of Scripture as she changed the language of ‘he’ to God. At first, since I was reading along, it seemed so jarring, but it also made complete sense. We were not reading about a male, but about the Ultimate Divine One.
The time I tried this while working in a church, I got a slap on the wrist. Working to rewrite a vision and mission statement with the pastoral staff and elder board, I suggested we change a portion of the phrase from “His world” to “God’s world.” Afterword, I was pulled aside by an elder who told me in all his 60+ years of being a Christian he had never heard God wasn’t a male. This actually surprised me since 60 years gives you good odds you might. Yet it also saddened me since it sounded like a narrow approach to God.
He then warned me that I needed to be careful with how I spoke about God around people. I tried to share that I simply wanted to make sure a name for God was used rather than a gender but his response was a repeated warning.
Yet in my sermons, prayers, and writing of liturgies since then, I have practiced using non-gendered language to describe God. It is quite a simple change that has powerful implications as it can expand our understanding of God.
God’s not a dude. God is greater than dude. God is God.