ASK FATHER: Referring to God as both “genders”

From a reader…


Is it proper to refer to God by using the pronouns he/she? They argue God is both genders… heretical?


The current zeitgeist (and what a geist it is) seems to indicate that folks have the right to be called by whatever pronouns they prefer – reality be damned! If a man asks to be referred to as “she” or “her,” our soi-disant cultural betters wag their angry fingers at us when we stumble, confused by our silly obsession with plain facts, and call him, “him” (oh drat, there I go already. I meant to write, “call her, ‘him’”). If an individual of unknown and non-obviously apparent sex wishes to be referred to as “xe” and “xer,” woe betides the hapless realist who fails to acknowledge the neologistic pronouns.

In this age, lest we fall afoul of the societal salons, it would seem best, rather than relying on our own perception, to ask the Almighty what pronouns would be best to use in addressing the August Divinity.

Fortunately for us, we don’t have to ask. He (and I say “He” with confidence) has replied with gusto. In the Person of His Son, He has informed us that He prefers to be called “Father.” This same Son graciously refers to Himself as “He,” as He does the Father and the Holy Spirit. Lest we be horribly inconsiderate to Our Creator, it seems that we should best respect His explicit preference for the use of masculine pronouns in reference to Him.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. SimonK says:

    Father Ferguson presents the argument from special revelation. There are also arguments from natural theology. If you have a copy of Edward Feser’s book “Five Proofs”, he explains it more adequately than I could on pages 246–248. But, to summarise, the divine act of creation is more analogous to the male role in human procreation than to the female; the mother is changed radically by the process of procreation (pregnancy) while the father is not changed to anywhere near the same degree. Likewise, God’s choice to create the world produced a major change in the world (from non-existence to existence) while not producing any real change in God (who as pure actuality, cannot undergo any real change). And, of course, the analogy between human procreation and divine creation is imperfect, but all analogies used to describe God are inevitably so–but this argument concludes that while all three of “He” and “She” and “It” are imperfect terms for God, “He” is the least imperfect of the three.

  2. Gab says:

    I’m happy to refer to any Persons of the Holy Trinity in the masculine. Always have been, always will be.

  3. APX says:

    It’s right there in the Bible, “Abba”. If God wanted to be referred to as a woman Jesus would have called Him Imma. Sadly, I only know that because my “Catholic” Biblical Theology Class told us if we’re offended by the use of Abba to refer to God, we’re free to use “Imma”, which means mother. >:-(

  4. Sawyer says:

    I used to work at a Catholic school where the director of campus ministry would say the Lord’s Prayer as “Our Father and Mother who art in heaven…” during prayer, during Mass! Sheesh. He was a terribly effeminate male and deeply theologically confused about almost everything, and not very bright to tell you the truth, and a hardcore leftist activist. (Surprised?) Oh, but he had a master’s degree from the Jesuit school in Berkeley so he had authority. He didn’t want to say “sin” to kids nor talk about sin with them, only feel-goodism, self-esteem, pro-gay everything, liberation theology and Marxism. Those are the sorts of people doing “faith formation” in California.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    I believe that it is incorrect in English to use any sexed pronoun to refer to God — and by this I mean not the Person of the Father for Whom the masculine pronoun is correct, but the Trinity Himself.

    The “He” that one uses to refer to Him is used in the original sense of the pronoun, as it existed when English used to have only two pronouns : “he” was the animate pronoun, “it” the inanimate pronoun. So, any person, male or female, or higher animal and certain other things would be referred to using “he”, whereas most inanimate objects or substances or concepts etc would be designated using “it”.

    In a similar vein, the suffix -man in words like postman or ombudsman should have been understood as being non-“gendered”, as its proper meaning is “human person”, not “adult human person of the male sex”. It has not the same meaning as the word “man”.

  6. fishonthehill says:

    What about referring to satan as “She”?

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