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I know the Holy Spirit (רוח הקודש) is usually referred to as masculine. But, what is the reason for that?

The Hebrew word רוח (ruach; "wind; spirit") is one of the few words that is sometimes used as masculine (cp. Eccl. 1:6; 1 Kings 19:11), although it is mostly used as feminine.

In other Hebrew literature, such as the targumim, the Shekhina (שכינה), which some believe to be the equivalent of the Holy Spirit, is also feminine.

Therefore, I find it questionable that all the persons of the Trinity are considered male in gender. Personally, I think connecting more to the feminine side of god can lead to a softer and more understanding and open approach, whereas connecting too much to the male side might lead in my view to a judging, hard, and maybe sometime, even aggressive religious approach.

This place seems to agree with my observation: "Gender of the Holy Spirit"

  • The gender stereotyping in paragraph four stands out as an inherent bias. (Interesting question, that considered, since Wisdom is so often explicitly depicted as female in nature in the OT). – KorvinStarmast Sep 29 '16 at 23:49
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    What color is a greenhouse? – Andrew Sep 30 '16 at 19:55
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The Hebrew language only has two grammatical genders: masculine (זָכָר) and feminine (נְקֵבָה). Therefore, every Hebrew noun has an inherent grammatical gender. In the case of the noun רוּחַ, the grammatical gender is feminine. Yet, this does not mean the natural gender of the Holy Spirit is feminine. As for why the Holy Spirit would be "male," so to speak, it is because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Yahveh (Jdg. 3:10), and Yahveh is a He. I say "so to speak" because Yahveh is "male" in a different way than animals, which are determined to be male or female based on their chromosomes. Rather, Yahveh is described as a male, in part, as a consequence of His headship over all creation.

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    Although it is not the topic of my question, as a Hebrew speaker I can say that a words are used sometime as feminine and sometimes masculine. so in eclesiastes 1, 6 ruah is masculine. Anyway I must say I find the answer somewhat unconvincing. Why should the spirit of god should be masculine if god is masculine, if it is part of the trinity, it will be like saying the the son of god is masculine, just because god is masculine. But the real reason, is that it is son, and not daughter. And especially, that again, as I say the equivalet in Hebew - shekina is feminine. – Eden Feb 1 '15 at 12:15
  • And god in my view has headship over all creation, but it also has soft and nurturing qualities over creation which are considered mother - feminine. Personally I find it unbalanced to consider all trinity to be male. – Eden Feb 1 '15 at 12:17
  • In the majority of occurrences, רוח is considered grammatically feminine; exceptions do not create a rule. Likewise, the Shekhina (שכינה) is feminine because of grammatical gender, as is the word Torah (תורה). – user900 Feb 1 '15 at 17:54
  • @Eden sounds to me like this was a stump the chumps question. – Dan Oct 1 '16 at 18:12
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Catholic perspective here:

The short answer is that the Holy Spirit, like all of the Persons of the Trinity, does not have a physical sex, because God in His Divine Nature does not have a body. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] no. 370.)

In different languages, the grammatical gender will follow the gender for “Spirit” (in Greek, τὸ Πνεῦμα, neuter; in Latin, Spiritus, masculine, which is followed in most of the Romance languages; etc.)

In English, which does not have strong grammatical genders, we should use the pronoun that best describes the fact that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person. Using “It” would suggest that the Holy Spirit is impersonal; using “Her” would probably give rise to a lot of confusion (because the procession of the Holy Spirit is really quite unlike any relation among creatures); so it is best to use “He.”

Gender vs. sex

From a philosophical point of view, we must distinguish between gender and sex. Gender is strictly speaking a grammatical notion, that governs the agreement of articles and adjectives with a given noun. In Western languages, there are at most three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter (Latin for “neither one”). When the concept talked about has a physical sex, the grammatical gender generally follows it, but otherwise, the gender is often quite arbitrary. (For instance, in Spanish, salt, or “sal,” is feminine, but in French and Italian, “sel” and “sale” are masculine.)

On the other hand, sex—the maleness or femaleness of a human being or animal—is a physical or ontological reality that transcends mere grammar, and has its roots deeply in the human’s or animal’s bodily configuration. (For an overview of the Church’s view on sex, see CCC 369-373; for instance, the Church does not subscribe in any way to gender theory.)

God does not have a sex, but He revealed Himself as Father.

God is, as I noted above, by nature pure spirit, so He does not have a physical sex.

He did, however, choose to reveal Himself generally using masculine references. For example, in the Old Testament, He is clearly the “Lord” (Adonai, which is masculine), and He reveals Himself as Father. He has qualities that are typically those of a mother, such as compassion (racham, literally the “womb”), but the Israelites clearly referred to God as “He,” and Jesus continued that practice.

It is true that Wisdom is personified as a feminine figure (e.g., in the Proverbs), but it is important to recall that the Israelites knew nothing about the Holy Trinity until Jesus revealed it to them, so they did not intend to identify Wisdom crassly with any one of the Persons.

In the New Testament, it became more explicit: God, the Second Person, became incarnate as a male, and the Son continued to refer to the First Person as the “Father” (never once as the “Mother”). This revelation is not accidental, and although God in His Nature has, of course, all of the perfections that are particular to men and women, He specifically wished to be revealed as Father. (Or, said in a different way, human fatherhood renders visible to us a fundamental aspect of our relationship to God; in particular, the fact the He wants to make us His sons and daughters; see CCC 238-242 and 2779-2793.)

The gender of the Holy Spirit

In languages with a true grammatical gender, the gender of the Holy Spirit will depend on the pre-existing gender of the word Spirit, as I noted above.

In languages, like English, with only a weak grammatical gender, the gender that best characterizes the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity should be used.

“It” would, as mentioned, imply that He is impersonal; “She” would likely cause confusion regarding our relationship to God (which does not depend on the Persons, but on the Essence of God); so, the best pronoun to use is “He.”

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(LDS view)

According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the gender of the Holy Ghost is male, simply because the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father, and one of our spirit brothers:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father. It is fundamental Church doctrine that God is the Father of the spirits of all men and women, that Jesus is literally God's Son both in the spirit and in the flesh, and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit separate and distinct from both the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Eternal Godhead, and is identified also as the Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, and the comforter." (see The Encyclopedia of Mormonism: Holy Ghost)

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While I can't say with certainty, I think the answer is likely to be yes (feminine) as supported by the arguments below, and I think you are on to something big! This is a question I wondered about after reading the verses discussed below from the Bible. There are a few arguments that lead me to believe the Holy Spirit might be feminine:

  1. Genesis 1:26-27 makes a compelling argument (please correct me if I am interpreting it wrong). My interpretation: We are made in the image of God, male and female!

[Genesis 1:26-27 KJV] 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

  1. If these next two verses mean that God is a family, then what members of the family are there?

[Mat 28:19 KJV] 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

[1Jo 5:7 KJV] 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

There is the Father (implies male), the Son (also referred to as the Word) (implies male), and the Holy Ghost (role in the family not specified). So, what role would the Holy Ghost likely be in the family, if there is already a Father and a Son? To me, Mother makes the most sense.

  1. 1 John 5:7 makes a lot more sense (at least to me) in considering God to be one (as a family). On earth, a father, a mother, and a son can all be one in the sense that they are one family.

Perspective: I am a Baptist, leaning toward Non-Denominational. My proposed view does not seem to line up with the majority of Baptists or Non-Denominationalists though, but it seems to make a lot of sense!

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    The idea of god as family is just great. I have never heard it. Thanks! It warms the heart to think of god as a family. – Eden Mar 8 '15 at 12:23
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I can't tell you much about the Hebrew language, and I can't tell you if the concept of "male" applies to a being like the Holy Spirit, but the strongest evidence I can find in the Bible indicates that the Holy Spirit is not female:

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18, NIV

The Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. We can try and parse an inherently gendered language of man all we want, but the evidence of the Holy Spirit's actions argue strongly against being female.

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That any Spirit, God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or for that matter any Spirit is referred to as either male or female; is no more than the fact that in some languages all things are divided into one of only two genders that being either male or female. Spanish is an example of such languages.

As far as describing spirits there should be a third gender, that being sexless; or possibly both sexes, but preferably sexless.

Let's look at some Scripture so that you can see what my reasoning is:

Genesis 1:1 and 2 NKJV In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

At this point all material things begin. Prior to this there was only God. God is not Material and therefore has no material parts which includes genitalia. This only makes sense because Spirits do not eat or drink, therefore; they have no need to void, and it is those parts both internal and external which separate the genders.

We get a glimpse of this when Jesus says:

John 4:32 through 34 NKJV But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

Jesus was not talking about his physical self, which of course needed material food to sustain it, and that also had to be voided. He was referring to his Spiritual being which is sustained by other than material things.

My reasoning for saying, that Spirits should be a separate Gender is based on several things.

Genesis 1:26 and 27 NKJV 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.

If we take a closer look at this Scripture we see two things in verse 26.

  1. To make mankind in God's image cannot possibly mean physical appearance since man and woman are so physically different.

2 there are two very important words used here, and both indicate a multiplicity.

a. Us this indicates that God is made up of more than one part; or if you will more than one Deity. All of which make up one entity God.

b. them This indicates that what God called man is also more than one.

We get a hint at what the likeness of God means in verse 26 where God says; 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."

Just as God has dominion over all of creation he gave man dominion over all other ambulatory creatures. There is more to that than we first realize in that in order to have dominion, man must have the power to reason, and to make available all those things necessary for the creatures to survive. Along with that comes free will or the ability to choose whether or not to care for those creatures, or for that matter whether or not to obey God in any of his actions. That choice when it is to not obey is what we call sin.

At this point I would like to point out that God could choose whether or not to even create all things, but decided to do so in spite of knowing how we would mistreat him and his creation.

But back to gender identification, The reason God created man in both male and female genders is for one and only one reason. God being omniscient knew before creation everything that would happen within his creation from day one until the last day.

He knew that Adam and Eve would not remain sinless, as would their posterity, and therefore in order to populate the Kingdom of Heaven he told them:

Genesis 1:28 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 God did by making them both male and female, was that he gave them the final part of his likeness, The ability to create life.

You may agree with my reasoning and how I read the Scriptures, or not but I am sure that God uses reasoning in everything he does, and that seems to me to be the most logical reasoning.

  • Thanks, and I like the answer. I just wonder how should one feel when praying to god. So when a Jew connects/ prays to god they feel like connecting to a father, and when they connect with Shekina it is more feminine/ mother feeling tone. Isn't it human nature to feel female/ male when we pray? And we might need different gender of god to pray in different times. How would it be to pray to a god which is both male and female. Does it make sense to pray sometimes for its male side, and sometimes for the female side? – Eden Feb 2 '15 at 6:59
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    @Eden When we think of either male or female what we are really thinking of is personality characteristics. BY that what I mean is that for female we are really thinking of a motherly love and her sense of protection and so on, but with a male what we are imagining is strength and steadiness and so on. God is all of those combined and that is actually what being made in the likeness of God means. In truth both genders have all of those qualities but they are more prevalent in one case or the other, but with God they are even more greatly prevalent. continued – BYE Feb 2 '15 at 12:59
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    @Eden continued To me it easier to pray to God who not only possesses all of those qualities than to appeal to either separately; and in truth God is able to invoke any or all of those at his whim; and to a greater degree. I much prefer that he answer my prayers with both strength and compassion than either separately. – BYE Feb 2 '15 at 13:17
  • Interesting. I will need to meditate on that. – Eden Feb 2 '15 at 14:03
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    There's no biblical basis for praying to the Holy Spirit, or to a feminine version of God. Jesus directs his prayers to the Father and teaches his disciples to do the same. Heavenly Father, as a perfect being, has every positive characteristic – He doesn't have to be female to be loving and caring. He is loving and caring, along with being strong, etc. – Samuel Bradshaw Aug 22 '16 at 19:34

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