More than one pronoun for God
Should we start calling God "they"?
I have grown up in a Christian culture that consistently portrays God as a “he.” What if we begin to describe God with multiple pronouns including “they,” “she” and “he”? I believe this would benefit Christians and improve our perceptions of God.
The English language is not stagnant. As John McWhorter recounts, when “thou” fell out of use, for a while it was correct to say, “you was.” However, “grammarians didn’t like it, so people had to shape up and start saying, even to one person, ‘you were.’” The progression of “they” into a plural, general singular, and now specific singular pronoun is no more extreme (New York Times, Sept. 24, 2021). McWhorter is grateful and excited to witness English evolving; I think that Christians should be too.
English translations of the Bible can diminish the meaning of certain words. In Genesis, the terms used for God include “Elohim” and “Yahweh.” English translations simply use “God” because there are no true equivalents from the Hebrew. Shouldn’t Christians take advantage of language shifts that could improve our English descriptions of God?
God’s true face
The concept of God as triune is vital to Christianity. Still, I tend to separate the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in my mind. When God is solely described with masculine pronouns, I think solely of the Father. I propose that the advanced “they” is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to honour God’s triune nature perpetually since it recognizes God’s simultaneously singular and plural nature.
When we rely only on the pronoun “he,” we contribute to the idea that God is an old white man. Author Margot Starbuck describes how, despite knowing that God does not have a race or gender, we still associate her with certain human characteristics over others. When the 2007 novel The Shack by William P. Young portrayed God as a black woman, some people “got their hackles up.” Starbuck urges us to confront images of God that could be false; God’s one true face is reflected through the love of Jesus. If we incorporate feminine pronouns for God, we can unearth our perceptions of her and determine their accuracy.
I encourage all Christians to describe God with a variety of pronouns. They are one being formed by the love of three beings. She does not have a gender. He wants to be in a relationship with all of us.