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The Catholic Church teaches that God is neither man nor woman.

CCC 370 In no way is God in man's image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.

What therefore is the Catholic explanation as to why God has revealed himself in "male" terms?

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  • I'm not sure that the Church seeks to explain the mind of God, merely to explain How Things Are. The answer to "Why did God do that?" is always "God knows." – Andrew Leach Jan 15 '15 at 8:19
  • @AndrewLeach In some cases there isn't an explanation beyond God doing as he pleases. In others there are theological explanations. For example, what is the Catholic explanation as to why God created? The brief explanation goes along the lines it was not out of necessity but out of goodness/love because goodness is by nature communicative. – user13992 Jan 15 '15 at 19:04
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    @Mr.Bultitude There are several times when God is like a mother, which is different from when it says that he is a father. – curiousdannii Jan 22 '15 at 2:21
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    Thanks curiousdannii. @Mr.Bultitude: Better: THE FATHER never the Mother. – user13992 Jan 22 '15 at 4:48
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The Catechism has

Christ's true body

476 Since the Word became flesh in assuming a true humanity, Christ's body was finite.112 Therefore the human face of Jesus can be portrayed; at the seventh ecumenical council (Nicaea II in 787) the Church recognized its representation in holy images to be legitimate.113

477 At the same time the Church has always acknowledged that in the body of Jesus "we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see."114 The individual characteristics of Christ's body express the divine person of God's Son.

Scripture has a number of relevant references:

For to what angel did God ever say, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? — Heb 1:5

I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; but I will not take my steadfast love from him... — 2 Sam 7:14

I will be his father, and he shall be my son; I will not take my steadfast love from him... — 1 Chr 17:13

I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you." — Ps 2:7

Given that throughout scripture God has revealed the Messiah as His Son, the individual characteristics of Christ's body express the divine person of God's Son.

That would not be particularly understandable by mortal man if God's Son was female, so He chose to make it easy.


112 Cf. Council of the Lateran (649): DS 504.
113 Cf. Cal 3:1; cf. Council of Nicaea II (787): DS 600-603.
114 Roman Missal, Preface of Christmas I.

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I don't think there is a definitive Catholic answer to this question. It's not a question relevant to faith and morals. That said, one answer that I (a Catholic) can come up with is that it relates to the way ancient people conducted their businesses. The father of the household would own the business, and he would have servants (or slaves) and sons working under him. The servants could not make binding agreements that the father had to honor, but the sons could. In other words, the sons automatically had the father's power of attorney. Adoption was a common practice in Roman culture because the only way under Roman law to give someone your power of attorney was to adopt them. Women could sell their wares, so they had some right to conduct business, but it was much more limited. There is obvious implications for the adoptive sonship of believers here. The Bible says we are no longer servants but sons in Gal 4:7 and John 15:15. The Bible also calls us heirs. The firstborn son inherited from the father, not the mother and not the sisters, though the son was expected to take care of them.

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The quick answer to your question is that God did not refer to himself in male terms the writers of the books of the Bible did.

Genesis 1:26 through 28 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

What we see in the above scripture is God creating his image in both male and female form.

The writers of the books of the Bible were almost exclusively men. And since women were considered the weaker sex, it only follows that the men would refer to the center of all power as being male.

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