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From a few feminist-like individuals I have heard the argument that God is actually genderless, and despite God being called Father in the scriptures they refute these claims.

As a reformed protestant I do not share this opinion but am interested in understanding its origins.

What evidence do people use to prove that God is genderless?

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Why do people believe God is genderless?

Because God is Spirit! The Spirit is bodiless! Only the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity took on human form as man and is thus considered masculine within his human nature.

It’s important to emphasise that the point of this story isn’t to argue that God is female, but to teach us that God doesn’t fit into a neat, little box. God is beyond all categories.

This belief is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church when it reads that God is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone and that he “transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God.” (CCC 239).

239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. the language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

This teaching doesn’t mean that we can’t use masculine and feminine words to describe God. Rather, gendered language can be applied to God in the form of analogy to help us understand him in a better way. Traditionally God has been viewed as a parent figure, and so mother and father references are a suitable way to describe him.

“By calling God ‘Father’, the language of Faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasises God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man.” (CCC 239)

Throughout the Bible, masculine and feminine language is constantly used to describe God. For example, Ephesians 1:3 reads: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Yet, Isaiah 66:13 compares God to a nursing mother. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Leaving no opportunity for ambiguity, the Genesis account of creation most clearly shows the appropriateness of using gendered language to describe God. “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.” (Gen. 1:27)

While some Catholics refer to God as a mother in prayer because of verses like these, there is still debate about whether it is better to describe God in wholly masculine terms. Jesus, thee best theologian of us all, for example, teaches us to pray the “Our Father”, and that baptism should be carried out “in the name of Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

In Christian theology, the gender of the Holy Spirit has been the subject of some debate in recent times.

The grammatical gender of the word for "spirit" is feminine in Hebrew (רוּחַ, rūaḥ), neuter in Greek (πνεῦμα, pneûma) and masculine in Latin (spiritus). The neuter Greek πνεῦμα is used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew רוּחַ. The pronouns used to address the Holy Spirit, however, are masculine.

The Holy Spirit was furthermore equated with the (grammatically feminine) Wisdom of God by two early Church fathers, Theophilus of Antioch (d. 180) and by Irenaeus (d. 202/3). However, the majority of theologians have, historically, identified Wisdom with Christ the Logos.

Gregory of Nazianzus in the fourth century wrote that terms like "Father" and "Son" in reference to the persons of the trinity are not to be understood as expressing essences or energies of God but are to be understood as metaphors. The same position is still held in the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In Christian iconography, the Holy Spirit is most often represented as a dove. There is also a far less common tradition of depicting the Holy Spirit in human form, usually as male. Thus, Andrei Rublev's The Trinity represents the Trinity as the "three men" who visited Abraham at the oak of Mamre often considered a theophany of the Trinity. In at least one medieval fresco, however, in the St. Jakobus church in Urschalling, Germany, the Holy Spirit is depicted as a female. - Gender of the Holy Spirit

Early medieval church fresco of the Trinity

Early medieval church fresco of the Trinity

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    a minor distinction: masculine terms like Father and Son are applied to God analogously, but feminine terms (like Isaiah's comparison to a nurturing mother) are applied metaphorically not analogously
    – eques
    Sep 29 at 14:23
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Julian of Norwich was a Christian mystic from the 14th century. She wrote Revelations of Divine Love, the earliest surviving book in English known to be written by a woman. This book is a series of messages and visions about God's love and character, including God's gender. In the book she calls Jesus "our precious Mother", stating a certain femininity or neutrality of the gender of God.

Jesus Christ therefore, who himself overcame evil with good, is our true Mother. We received our ‘Being’ from Him­ and this is where His Maternity starts. And with it comes the gentle Protection and Guard of Love which will never ceases to surround us. Just as God is our Father, so God is also our Mother. (Revelations of Divine Love)

From this passage "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27 NIV), Julian understood that her feminine traits originated in Him.

Radicals in this line of thought reject that God chose to reveal Himself in masculine terms, then that is how we should speak of Him. These movements are linked to the inclusive-language Bible translations, that replace gender-specific names with gender-neutral ones.

The main change found in the NRSV, and that which has been the most controversial, is its elimination of masculine-oriented language. The NRSV was the first major "inclusive-language" translation. (Laurence M. Vance, Ph.D.)

Even though I'm not Catholic, CCC 239 summarizes this mystery well: "he is neither man nor woman: he is God".

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Philosophically, God is genderless because God is not a creature. God is a mind. Unlike human minds, which do show distinctive differences between the genders, the mind of a God has no reason for being one gender or the other. Being made in the image of God does not refer to gender.

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Genesis 1:27 in the Common English bible reads:

God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.

Most other translations use "created him" but if that is because of bias, or language reasons an expert might comment.

I have encountered the idea that God is both male and female, and that humans are in a way "incomplete" because they are (usually) only male or female.

Some times this is combined with Luke 20:34-36

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. (NIV)

One example where such ideas have been formulated is by C.T. Russell in the Photo Drama of Creation (1914). See time stamp 29:45-32:21 in the version of the video linked here. To the best of my knowledge later literature of Jehovah's Witnesses does not or only rarely consider this topic in detail anymore. I personally think that it is an interesting view, in the sense that both male and female are incomplete, different (not equal) and complement each-other, and that neither is superior over the other. Each one is given their role and all will benefit Gods Kingdom equally.

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