Pronouns

 

A Short Digression about pronouns relating to God.

At this point I need to talk about pronouns.  I will be mentioning God often throughout this discussion.  When referring to the Holy Being, how should I refer to the Entity?  Should I use He, She, It, or something else?  Nothing seems to work well for me. 

My problem arises from two sources.  On the one hand, I am convinced that gender is not applicable to God, at least not in the way we use the term.  God is too unimaginable, too vast and too unknown, too unfathomable and too inexplicable, too holy.  How can we ascribe gender -- male, female, or neuter -- to such a Being?  Gender is genetic – it is written into our DNA.  The Being I call God is not based on DNA.  That Entity doesn’t evolve or mutate.  God is One, and is Constant forever.  I find it difficult to use even the term “alive,” in the sense that we know it, for God.  In my considered opinion, to apply the term Male or Female to God is to diminish God’s divine holiness in my eyes.  But is it appropriate to use a neutral term?  Is there one that works?  Is “It” right?  I find it awkward to refer to God using “It.”  That pronoun refers to too many mundane, worthless, and imaginary things to be used with reverence about God.  Should we consider a new term, a pronoun derived from a combination of genders?  I think that would also be too awkward and would detract from my discussion throughout this site.

The other source of my problem derives from the peculiarities of Hebrew, the language by which we have come to know the one God.  Unlike English, but like a few other languages, Hebrew has only two genders, masculine and feminine, and most nouns are assigned one of these genders.  Because the scribes of the bible were (probably) all male, the bible is partial to men, and the scribes considered God to be masculine.  Moreover, they often depicted God with human male traits.  Thus they used the pronouns He, His, and Him with reference to God, inspiring us all to accept an image of a majestic man.

The dilemma I face requires a compromise.  Like many compromises, the resulting choice might be disquieting to some, injurious to some, perhaps insulting to some, and even alienating to some.  And I apologize for it.  But in this case it’s possibly the best choice among several poor ones.  Because I believe it is most comfortable and least disconcerting for most people, I will use the masculine pronouns here.

 

[Return to Introduction]