The question I would like to address here is whether or not the christian God is male. Now God, and please stay with me because this has implications far beyond religion, has traditionally been called the Father. He might just as easily have been called God the Mother, if his origins had not been rooted in the Jewish religion but in a matriarchal belief system. It was considered that the notion of fatherhood, drawn from the rural world of the ancient Near East, was an apt analogy for the description of the experience of God. But an analogy it always was, and an analogy is what it remains. Somewhere along the centuries, the boundaries of analogy and perceived truth have become blurred to the extent that the one has become totally identified with the other. In other words the analogy is the truth. Incidentally, a similar argument can be applied to the idea of Jesus being the Son of God.
In her "Models of God", Sallie McFague says,
"God as mother does does not mean that God is mother (or father). We imagine God as both mother and father, but we realize how inadequate these and other metaphors are to express the creative love of God....... Nevertheless, we speak of this love in language that is familiar and dear to us......"
Now the analogy of father (or mother) may be useful for people who were raised in a loving, caring family, but what of those who were raised under different circumstances? I would suggest that such an analogy lacks a certain authenticity which cannot be overcome simply by citing the experiences of others. In short, the language of loving parenthood is neither familiar nor dear. Whether or not God can love, creatively or otherwise, is a subject which I will pass over for possible future discussion.
If I can assume to have successfully disposed of the idea that God is Father, I must add that there is one aspect of the male/female analogy that is universally useful, and that is the use of the words male and female in the strictly biological sense, as used for example in engineering. Where two matching components come together to form a joint or union, those components are described as being male or female, depending on whether they are inserted into or fitted around the other component. Pipe fittings would be one example of this. And here is the crux of the matter, that the two are united to form the one, analogously an inner union of the soul, the ground of our being, and some 'otherness' which may be called God. When that mystical union takes place, there follows a new sense of balance and completion, the uniting of the Bride and the Groom, yet another analogy.
Lest it be assumed that some form of gender analogy is required to describe the idea of union, (assumed always to be of a loving and caring variety), please consider another analogy which in the end may be closer to reality that one using gender, as well as being free of emotive issues. When two (or more, but not let us complicate matters) chemical elements are brought together chemically, a new substance or compound is created. I stress the point that the elements come into chemical union, a process which follows strict rules. The result of physical union produces a mixture (which obeys no rules) in which the components retain their identity. The chosen elements may be very different from each other, for example sodium (symbol Na) a silvery, reactive metal, and chlorine (symbol Cl) a pungent, yellowy-green gas, will combine to form common salt (symbol NaCl). In this compound these two elements combine strictly in the ratio of 1:1.
What I like about the chemical analogy is that one can experience the apparent paradox of combining elements of opposite (or at least dissimilar) nature to produce a compound whose properties are completely different from its constituent elements. Furthermore, some chemical reactions can take place only in the presence of a catalyst, a substance which allows the reaction to take place without being a chemical part of that reaction. Thus one might introduce the Holy Spirit, or some other concept, into the reckoning of personal experience.
I would like to conclude by reiterating that the notions of God as Father or Mother are only analogies based on what seemed in the past to be meaningful, family relationships. Those notions never were other than analogies, and are no more than that now. There are other ways of trying to put into words the ineffable, such as the chemical analogy, which avoids the family concept. And it must be remembered that at some point all analogies break down. If the analogy of fatherhood and the principle it had attempted to model had not become confused over the centuries, we might by now be much closer to a greater understanding of the fundamentals of our psycho-spirituality. And there is much to be understood.
It may be argued that I have set out on a fool's errand to discover the nature of God, if such a nature can be said to exist. That may well be the case, but I will never know until I at least try to seek answers to my interminable questions.