Action Alert!
Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Is God Gender-Confused?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 28, 2004

A certain class of modernist theologians have confused the issue of how we refer to God in family terms. Is God our father or our mother? In what terms do we refer to our Creator?

Since theology depends on Revelation, without which it has no basis whatsoever, any "theologian" who sets Revelation aside in favor of ideas drawn from other sources is failing in the fundamental requirements of his craft. Such a person is neither a great intellect nor a great theologian, however superficially "smart" he appears to be.

On the question of God as Father, a distinction must be made. On the one hand, it is true that God does not have gender in the sense we understand that as human beings. He has all good qualities, both those that we consider paternal and those we consider maternal. As Jesus said, he longed to gather Jerusalem under his wings like a hen protecting her chicks.

But on the other hand, Scripture (including Our Lord's own words) clearly reveals God to us primarily as Father, and we are taught by Our Lord's own command to pray to the first Person of the Trinity as "Father" and, indeed, to consider Him as "abba" (daddy). Anything which departs from this fundamental fact of Revelation violates the first rule of sound theology. In doing so, it diminishes rather than increases our knowledge of God, and in so doing must in the long run diminish our love, for we must inescapably love to some extent in proportion to our knowledge.

Mary Our Sister?

The question of Mary is a similar one. She is in some sense our sister, just as any female saint or indeed any female Christian, is in some sense our sister in Christ. But to say this is to ignore what is unique and special about Mary in the specific vocation God has given her and her alone. This vocation is one of maternity. Christ is indeed our brother as well as our Lord, and so he reveals himself to be by the very fact of the Incarnation. But Mary was his mother and is therefore the mother of all Christ's brothers and sisters.

Moreover, Our Lord gave her to us as mother through his specific injunction to St. John, "Behold your mother." She is also the spouse of the Holy Spirit, which makes her, in a spiritual sense, something more than our sister, for by this espousal she mothers in us all the grace we receive through Christ. Finally, she has also been officially named as Mother of the Church - a logical extension of our understanding of her maternal role, and this teaching comes through documents of the Church which are, like Scripture, protected by the Holy Spirit from error.

Therefore, any effort to replace "mother" with "sister" is a step away from the fullness of what has been revealed. Again, this violates the first rules of theology, reduces knowledge, and must ultimately diminish love.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.