It’s possible I don’t have much else to say about the gender of God. But I noticed in that post I wrote that I reblogged last week, that I said that GOD chose the masculine pronoun for Himself in the Bible, and I guess I might still have something to say about that.
I further guess that not all of the people in the circles I currently frequent would see the masculine pronoun for God in the Bible as something that God inspired…and would also argue that the so-called divine wars in the Old Testament were simply erroneous human attempts to please God. And similar contentions. So maybe I want to talk a little more about why, even though so many people I love and respect hold those views, I still can’t seem to.
I might be able to write a book about this, but I’ll try to restrain myself tonight if for no other reason than that I’m at a Work Camp with the Youth and am writing this on my phone. (But I can do this, because I have a new one.)
Essentially, I just have to say I really do believe that the Bible is inspired by God such that the words that are in there are there for a reason. This includes words like Him and His in relation to God. I don’t believe that God engaged in automatic writing or anything like that. I do believe that the human authors of each of the books were fully conscious of and engaged in the writing process, and that their individual writing styles are evident in the books. I have to think, though, that those writers were intentional in their own choice of words, and that if God really wanted to use a book as one of His main methods of communication (which I realise is also a debated issue, but one thing at a time, friends. One thing at a time), then He would be at least as intentional about His choice of words and stories that went into it. (That’s a pretty underachieving God who would want to communicate with us enough to have a book written but not pay attention until after publication to see whether or not He got misrepresented in it.)
Given that the God in question is said to have created the world, and also to have imbued human beings with their individual gifts and abilities, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to me that that God could therefore also enable someone (or multiple someones) to write precisely what He wanted without actually dictating it to them. (There might be something of the predestination/free will debate in this, now that I think of it. As with that issue, I frankly believe that both divine and human agency are in play, and if you tell me I’m copping out by calling paradox, well, I’m still calling it, because I believe in those, too.)
I guess I don’t expect to “like” everything I read in the Bible, because while I might sometimes imagine God to have the same values I do in the same way that I do, if I get real about it, I can acknowledge that it makes sense that my values and ideas might not always line up with God’s, given the whole me-not-being-God and me-not-having-the-whole-picture thing. I hope and believe that the closer I get to Jesus by virtue of the Holy Spirit’s progressive work in my life, the more I’ll think like Him (God), and act like Him and have the same values as Him, but I don’t believe that beautiful goal is my default–or anyone else’s, frankly.
I also don’t believe, even though God want to communicate with us, and in spite of the Holy Spirit’s work, that I automatically fully understand everything that’s written in that there book of His.
It’s tempting to say “The God I know/have experienced would never say/do something like that,” and I do believe that when the Holy Spirit enters our reality, we begin to get to know the nature of God. However, I do believe it’s only a beginning, that this conversion of our natures to Christ’s nature is a lifelong process, and that we never “arrive” at full assimilation (for lack of a better, less creepy word) in this lifetime. And so I guess it just makes more sense to me to trust that the good God who the Bible tells me about actually gave us the Bible as a more objective revelation of His work and character than my own impressions, and that if there are things in there that don’t seem to me to line up with my understanding of His goodness, it just means I don’t understand it all yet. I’m going to keep trying, and I’m going to try to live as best I can according to what I do understand, but it’s not God, or the Bible, that’s still in progress, but me. I’m also pretty sure God’s not opposed to using shock value to get our attention.
All that (I guess) to say that I think applying “He” to God in the Bible is intentional–by which I mean God’s own intention.