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Can We Call God ‘She’?

Tim Staples

Tim Staples explains why it is improper to call God “She,” and what exactly is meant by referring to God as “Father” as He revealed Himself to us.


Host: Marvin, watching us today on Facebook, writes the following:

“I have a friend that wants to call God ‘She’ and not a ‘He,’ because God doesn’t really have a sex, so if there’s nothing wrong with calling God a ‘He’ then there shouldn’t be anything wrong calling God a ‘She.’ Is my friend right?”

Tim: No. Your friend is wrong, and this is why.

Now, from a Catholic and Christian perspective, God has revealed Himself as Father. He has not revealed Himself as “Mother.” Therefore it would be inappropriate for us to refer to–to pray the “Our Mother,” for example, because He has revealed Himself in a profound way. If you’re a Catholic–I don’t know if this person is Catholic.

Host: It doesn’t say.

Tim: Doesn’t say, but I would encourage them to take a look at paragraph 239 and 240 in the Catechism. In a very clear and succinct way, it points out that God is neither male nor female, is not a man or a woman. There’s no genitalia with God. Now we can talk about the Incarnation, the second person of the Blessed Trinity was incarnate, and so God experiences–that is, the second person of the Blessed Trinity experiences what it is to be man because of the Hypostatic Union, that’s a great mystery.

But God in His eternal nature cannot be male or female. Why? Because that would limit God. We talked about, earlier, if you have a thing that is “this but not that,” then that’s not God, because that posits potency or a lack of something in that being. God has no lack, so there can’t be male or female.

Now, but you say, “Well wait a minute, doesn’t it imply lack, then, to say God is Father?” No, and this is why: because when God reveals Himself as Father, He’s not revealing Himself as male, or as having genitalia. The Catechism points out there’s two essential things being revealed here: and that is that God is the first origin or first cause of all things, and that He is the transcendent authority.

And we use the analogy of the male. Why? Because look at the conjugal act in marriage. The man acts from the outside in, right? Hence the man better images God. Why? Because the man’s the transcendent authority who delivers the seed. It’s the woman who receives the seed and brings forth life. That’s why she better images the creation. She better images the Church, if you will, the one who receives. She better images humanity; the father images God.

Hey–if you’re making connections, here are some of the reasons why. The priests are male because it, by nature, better images God. So the point is–or especially God as Father. But the point is, God is not revealing Himself as Father in any sense of limiting Himself. It’s revealing something about his perfections as transcendent authority and first cause.

We talked about earlier, you know, Thomas Aquinas’ argument from cause. He is the first cause that Himself is not caused, hence He is eternal. He can’t be acted upon. He can’t die, right? How could God die? Because what do we say when somebody dies? “Oh what was the…cause of death?” Right? Well God can’t be caused as the first cause, because if He can be caused, then He’s not the first cause. He’s not God.

And so what we have to be careful to do, and this is what the Catechism points out in paragraph 239-240, is we don’t understand his Fatherhood in any sense that would limit Him to something that is less than God. We understand it as God revealed Himself, but we refer to Him as “Him” as a matter of grammar, for one, because you don’t refer to a father as “She.”

Host: Thank You, Marvin, for that question.

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