Is God gendered as a male in the Bible? What about Jesus’ words in John 4:23–24 where he says that “God is spirit”? In the same passage, however, Jesus calls God “Father.” Does he do so in reference to an actual masculinity of God? Is this a manifestation of male domination and patriarchy? Ben Witherington doesn’t think so.a According to him, Jesus calls God “Father” and not “Mother” only because he did not have a human father, while he did have a human mother. Witherington thinks that, at least in the New Testament, God is not perceived to be male, but a genderless divine essence. He says that we are too quick to read into the Bible our own over-sexed and gender-language-sensitive culture.
But are we? Or are we trying to apologize for the misogyny in the Bible because of our religious belief in the sacred nature of the Bible? How could Scripture, which is the Word of God to so many Christians, be the product of patriarchy and its over-sexed values that are grounded in the perpetuation of male domination and the degradation of the female? How could Jesus in the Gospel of John, for example, be portrayed as someone who valued God as a male spiritual being, a God who relates to human beings as a dominant father would do to his subordinate children (John 4:23–24)?