I am reading a book called With by Skye Jethani who mentions in chapter two that God is genderless based on Genesis 1:26-27. I don’t quite see the inference, the scripture affirms that we are made in the image of God. God made us both male and female. Jethani states, “It was explained to me that in some Hindu traditions eunuchs are considered holy – genderless like God”. Can you please clarify if this statement has other biblical evidences?
All careful, well-informed Bible readers I know believe that God has no gender. “He” is referred to with male pronouns and “He” is called “Father” I believe there is more than one reason that the male pronoun and name are used, but none of those reasons are because God is male.
Maleness has to do with one of the chromosomes a creature has, as is femaleness. This has to do with the need in an evolving species to respond to change in the environment through sexual, rather than asexual reproduction. Asexual species must evolve much more slowly than sexual species. It is my opinion that God intervened directly in natural history to create beings who reproduce sexually rather than asexually. F. Legard Smith published a really interesting book on this topic quite recently. It is titled Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem. Whether God created sex for practical reasons relating to evolution or whether it was because God foresaw the kind of intimacy that a husband and a wife can have I do not know. Perhaps it was both.
But I am getting away from your question. God does not have either an x or a y chromosome. He does not have a penis and he does not have a vagina. He does not produce sperm or eggs. There is nothing about God in heaven which makes him more “male” or more “female.” In fact, God’s qualities join both that which we view as typically “male” with those which we typically identify as “female.” Paul used both male and female imagery to describe his ministry in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1 where Paul says he ministered like a mother, but also like a father) and the same could be said about Jesus. Neither male nor female is “better.”
However, God does assign roles to men and women, at least in marriage, based on their different strengths. He gives primary authority to the husband. This may be a contributing reason that the male pronoun is used of God. “The husband is the head of the wife” (Ephesians 5) In highly paternal societies in the Near East, to call God Mother would have most likely been confusing. The church is called the “bride” of Christ, not the husband of Christ. The imagery of the one being over as male and the one being in submission as female is consistent in the Bible. Again, this has to do with submission, not with gender, as does the use of Father of God rather than Mother.
It is true that in Hindu societies there are whole groups or castes of castrated males who are considered more holy. Christianity cannot possibly accept this as a good thing. Everything God made is good, and this includes human gender. It is an abomination for a male to be castrated–essentially mutilated–in order to be more holy. Although we can agree with the Hindu that God (although they do not believe in a personal God) is genderless, we absolutely reject the idea of castration as a means to make one more holy. Hindus see physical creation as essentially bad/evil. Christians see physical creation as entirely good (see Genesis 1), so where Hindus would see castration as a good thing, we see it as an unholy and blasphemous thing to do in order to make a person holy (although if an accident causes sterility we love the person just the same).
God compares himself to a mother repeatedly in the Bible. For example Isaiah 49:15 and 66:13, and dozens more. I have not done a systematic count, but I would speculate that if we counted the number of times female-like qualities are attributed to God vs. male-like qualities, the “female” qualities would prevail.
So, I can agree that God is genderless, but I definitely cannot agree with the Hindu thinking on this!