I have begun preparing to teach my first college course – systematic theology 3. In reading the materials, I found that one textbook I am using confidently calls the Holy Spirit a “She,” while the other textbook confidently calls the Holy Spirit a “He.” So which is it? Is the Holy Spirit a “He” or a “She?”
The Holy Spirit is both a “He” and a “She,” and neither a “He” or “She.”
Are you confused? Good, you should be confused because the godhead cannot be understood. The godhead is a mystery and anyone who claims to fully understand the godhead has bought into a theology that was structured by a mere human.
The truth is that the godhead does not have a literal gender. Meaning, the godhead is not a man or a woman. Yet, male and female are both created in the image of God.
God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit must have both male and female attributes if female were in fact made in their image.
Sadly, the Church has hyper-focused on biblical imagery of God as “Father” and have almost ignored biblical imagery of God as “Mother.” Girls and women struggle to see themselves as being made in the image of God, because God is often called “He,” and almost never called “She.” In fact, many Christians become offended if one points out the feminine attributes of God.
This leads girls and women to ask, “What about being feminine is offensive?”
Is it that we are seen as weak and people do not want to view God as weak? Is it that our bodies are curvy and often oversexualized, and people do not want to see God as “womanly” or “sexy?” Is it that we are viewed as cowards, and people don’t want to see God as one who hides behind others? Is it that we are seen as followers, and people don’t want to put their trust in a God who can’t lead?
Since we are only taught about “God the Father,” and “Jesus the Son,” and “Holy Spirit as a He,” girls and women are not taught to see themselves in God’s image.
To make matters worse, many preachers and theologians further marginalize women by making statements such as, “Jesus chose only male apostles.”
This leads girls and women to ask, “What about being feminine makes me not worthy to be chosen by Jesus?”
Is it because we are seen as deceitful temptresses and the Son of God would certainly avoid choosing female tempters to walk along side of Him? Is it because we are viewed as slow, and Jesus needs people that can keep up. Is it because we are seen as just too silly, and Jesus only chooses serious candidates to help Him lead?
“Your role is to follow, stay quiet, and submit to men” they say, but the question they never answer is, “What part of the godhead always follows, always stays quiet, and always submits?”
Some would argue that the Holy Spirit served in this so called “subordinate” role, but those who recognize the power of the Holy Spirit, are often quick to call the Spirit a “He.”
Oh no, we cannot call women powerful or they might actually start to have confidence and stop struggling with epidemic insecurity. Oh no, we can’t have this. Insecurity and a lack of self-value is the super glue that allows patriarchy (and those who uphold) to keep us in our place.
Secure and confident women, who see themselves in the image of God, are a great threat to all patriarchal establishments.
A secure and confident woman will often start to view herself as a “mama bear,” as the Holy Scriptures compare God to.
“Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…” -Hosea 13:8
She will become an unstoppable force, attacking anything that is harming the children of God. She will rise up like an eagle, protecting the vulnerable at all cost.
Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.” -Deuteronomy 32:11
Bears and eagles are strong, powerful, beautiful, and intelligent creatures. May God help anyone who challenges their authority to protect the children of God against lies that are meant to harm, control, and belittle.
Do you know that the Hebrew word for “spirit” (ruach) is feminine in Genesis 1:2?
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to as a “He” (John 16:13), but the Greek word used for “Holy Spirit” is actually a neuter word. What does this mean, then? It means that the Holy Spirit is a person (not a human), but a relational being that should not be referred to as an “it.”
It means that we can refer to the Spirit as a “She” or a “He.” Since we generally refer to God and Jesus as “He” and the Old Testament noun is feminine, it seems fitting to call the Holy Spirit “She” in hopes of encouraging girls and women to see themselves in God.
God and the Holy Spirit do not have a literal gender, but both woman and man take after their image.
How does Jesus fit in? How do women see themselves in Christ. First of all, Jesus was born of a woman and no man had anything to do with impregnating Mary with the Son of God. Jesus was male when He walked the earth, but He embodied the blood and DNA of a woman and only a woman. Oh, there we are in the Son of God.
When we gaze closely at the godhead as explained in the Bible, we will find many female attributes. There has been a religious attempt to divide the godhead and hand out certain functions and roles. But, the godhead cannot be divided. Each person in the godhead has a unique personality & calling, but they are all equal in worth and authority.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27
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