How Do Christians Feel About Referring to God as “She”? Exploring the Controversy

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“How do you FEEL referring to God as “She”? I recently asked on Facebook.

The prompt was an original posting by Uwem Ward of All Made Well Recovery and when resharing, I emphasized we were bringing curious awareness to our FEELINGS.

The comment section exploded. One part responded to the prompt with gentle curiosity and the other part shared strong stirrings without following the prompt.

The strong sharings, despite a clarification by Uwem, the original poster, who had also pointed out she was not looking for a “confrontational exegesis based on what you have decided is right and a rebuke of those you disagree with. “I feel uncomfortable because Jesus said FATHER,” is an adequate description of your FEELINGS,” she wrote.

Why I Shared the Prompt

I reshared the update because women – particularly those healing from toxic Christianity, which tends to devalue and marginalize women and girls – sometimes struggle to see themselves in the concepts of God taught in some Christian circles.

It was a prompt that could lead to, at the minimum, self-awareness of our inner world.

But by the time I closed the Comments on my page (and blocked some), there was everything from I’m a liberal progressive leading women astray to I’m influenced by satan.   

“This is not a confrontational exegesis” and “we’re bringing curious awareness to our feelings” was completely lost.

So today, I want to share some thoughts because this is important, at least for those who are exploring and growing. I also want to address something else I saw come up in the Comments, a pattern I have observed, and reiterate a few things.

Let’s start with seeing God as “She.”

How Do Christians Feel About Referring to God as “She”?

I know many coming out of conservatism/fundamentalism/cultism were taught that God hovers between not caring for and being upset by human feelings and questions. 

We were taught a god who is fussy and dysregulated, who micromanages and retaliates when people don’t like him or love him enough.  We were handed a god who is petty, easily flustered and insecure.  

The evangelical/fundamentalist/cultic god uses coercion, aggression, threats of harm, fear, shame, and manipulation as a preferred way of relating to his creation.

For anyone coming out of that conditioning, assessing beliefs and re-patterning to something else is difficult, to say the least. 

On multiple levels, it can feel like breaking up with an abuser while the house is on fire and all exit ways are locked. It can feel like clawing out of the prison—with faith and life on fire—stumbling toward safety and health with the god, the old ways, following in hot pursuit.

Read More Reflections and Liberation for Hurting Soul is Now Available!

And the deeper your connection and devotion to the evangelical/fundamentalist/cultic god, the more fiery the war, the more complex the untangling, the harder the processing.

But walking, falling, giving up, crawling, stumbling towards wholeness is how discovery, unlearning, and healing look like. We discover for ourselves who the Divine really is.1 We discover without middlemen and women. We discover within felt safety.

Unfortunately, sometimes, we leave the abuser god, people, and spaces and are not fully deprogram from the beliefs and systems of the former aboard.

We retrain only up to a certain point that feels comfortable/serves us and then camp in the in-between, for the most part continuing to operate from a high-stress/traumatized lens. 

While rewiring and healing is truly a journey, it is a process that invites awareness of our inner world and bends towards peace, and freedom. 

Checking Our Health

A helpful check-in is to assess if we’re growing, but the “growth” looks like the same old baseline in a “new” location. 

If we’re still, for the most part, feeling boxed in, still responding as if the house is on fire with all exits locked, if everything feels dire or impossible, then we stay curious and open.

We continue to build trust in ourselves, offering ourselves compassion, exploring, and listening to safe voices around us. We keep doing the work which can include seeking out trained professional support, where possible.

How do Christians feel about referring to God as “She? Confusion or Freedom?

Because I do clarity work and it touches those impacted by hurting systems and relationships, some commenters were concerned the prompt was confusing to the vulnerable. They were angry it had been presented in the first place. 

I actually think women coming out of marital and religious bondage need to be affirmed in the knowledge that it’s okay to think, feel, and ask questions. Ponderings along the lines of “how do Christians feel about referring to God as “She?” should be welcome, not given a wide berth.

It’s liberating to know you’re loved by a God who isn’t angry. On a felt level, it’s grounding to know that the Divine is neither fragile nor vengeful. It’s a relief to know they can handle the full range of human emotions, thoughts, sensations, curiosity, questions and limitations.

I believe that women who are coming out of high control abusive religious and marital systems which made God small, need to know the Divine is big. Big and safe and gentle and loving, and able to handle their inner and outer worlds. 

They need to know, right down to the bones, that they can trust that if they ask all the questions and bring awareness to all their parts, they are not “sinning,” “lacking reverence,” or “holy fear.” Not being afraid of the Person who says they love you—that’s freedom.

How Do Christians Feel About Referring to God as “She”? Is God as “She” or “He”

I believe that the Christian God does not have gender (as we understand gender.)

Nevertheless, the Divine is still primarily referred to as “He,” and (in our variety of Christianity with it’s deep patriarchal rooting) a “He” identity has had far-reaching impacts on those who are not male.

In different parts of Scripture, God uses female metaphors to describe himself. Matthew 23:37, Isaiah 66:13, Isaiah 46:3. Genesis 1:26 narrates the creation of women and men in the image of God. “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, according to our likeness;”

My conclusion:

  • God does not have gender – the Divine transcends gender – but since it was decided the Divine is exclusively “He,” then it cannot be “misgendering” to refer to “Him” as “She” “They/Them” too.
  • We are free to use whatever pronouns we prefer/feel most safe with. I don’t think the God of the Bible is upset by pronouns. We all see ourselves reflected in Them.
  • If a genderless God can be a “He,” then “He” can be a “She” “They/Them”

If the idea of God being referred to as anything but “He” is offensive, the offense does not necessarily mean your view is superior or theologically correct. It might be just conditioning.

And the encouragement is to ask ourselves why the idea of a genderless Being being referred to as “He” isn’t offensive, but being referred to as a “She” is. 

A more wholesome approach might be to sit with our emotions, listen to what they tell us and explore what lies under the surface…without condemning, beating up on, or judging ourselves (and others). 

I appreciate the following perspective from theologian Marg Mowczko, in her article “Is God Male or Masculine?

“The reason God is referred to as “he” is largely due to the limitations of language. There are no divine or appropriate non-gendered third-person singular pronouns in the biblical languages that we can use when talking and writing about God….Apart from Jesus, God is not male or masculine, nor is God female or feminine, and yet he has chosen to reveal himself in ways that people in ancient times could identify with—with roles and activities that those people associated with men and with women.

It is important to be aware that the biblical metaphors are images to help us understand God relationally and analogically; they do not describe God’s actual or physical nature. This is true for both the masculine and feminine metaphors of God. God is beyond our human understanding and transcends gender. Yet we know that both men and women are made in his image and likeness, and that he has commissioned both men and women to rule and care for his creation as his regents” Excerpt, Is God Male or Masculine?

How Do Christians Feel About Referring to God as She?

Someone asked how I feel about referring to God as “She.”

I feel tender, cautious and peaceful in the parts of me that were conditioned to see God as removed from my female existence and experience.

I feel hesitant, grief and compassion in the parts of me that for a long time did not like me, a female, because for a long time, finding belonging in God required getting comfortable with the “order” “He” preferred..which had me, a woman, at the bottom rung and males at the top of the universe, which communicated “you’re not important, you’re an after-thought” and this child did not like being an unimportant or an afterthought and so she moved on to something else.

(For more responses to the prompt, How do you feel referring to God as “She”? please check out the comment section of the post on Facebook. A lot of strong feelings but a lot of vulnerability and curiousness too.)

How Christians feel about referring to God as She

Of Dignity and Belovedness

Let’s change gears and talk about a pattern I have observed, something I saw come up in a thread and heads up: Straight Talk Ahead.

Some commenters spoke of a trend they had observed in my postings “lately” and their discomfort with it. The only “lately” I could think of was a recent update on missionaries and colonized Christianity.2

I have observed that discussions of black/brown/indigenous dignity and belonging often trigger past or present conditioning in those deconstructing who are not decolonizing.

The reality is that parts of white community will inspect and rethink their beliefs, culture, and theology when it starts to hurt them but never dip a toe to analyze how the same theology, beliefs, and culture hurt those from other cultures, who do not look like them.

I receive emails and private chats about what I think about this area or that area and I want to clear things up, in case it has not been clear in the past.

White, colonized Christianity disguised as Christianity: my experience

I don’t speak about this often but my initial reasons for rethinking evangelicalism had nothing to do with how evangelicalism handles abuse, divorce or its affection for patriarchal power. 

We reinspected our beliefs because as people of African descent, my husband and I found ourselves with no belonging in evangelical spaces. I was also dealing with a chronic health issue and the condition accelerated the learning path.

My background is 14 years in a high-control, works-based utterly-exhausting evangelical/fundamentalist missionary church in Kenya, where I was born and grew up.

I and pretty much every national in that church were numbers: free bodies, free labor, and free resources to build a white man’s utopia of Christianity in Africa. Read More: When Pastors Exploit in the Name of Christ , Shiny Happy People – An African American Perspective

Years later, we would move to the United States (the move was long before our rethinking began), and we found ourselves drawn to the same environments. Cos evangelical fundamentalist programming is real. 

We didn’t know it then, but the white and colonized “Christianity” disguised as real Christianity we experienced in Kenya was the same – just on steroids – in American churches. And society at large.

So we left those spaces. And because I knew how it feels to hurt, to be used, mistreated and disrespected, to fear for your life and the life of your loved ones, to grieve, to be doubted and made fun of, to witness your supposed community say you’re making stuff up – it was the most natural thing to believe women who said their lived reality was different from what everyone thought/required. 

I believed women in hurting systems because I knew they were telling the truth. (And I changed everything as a result.)

What I want everyone to know

If you read my blog, subscribe to my newsletter, and follow me on social media and the expectation is that I will only talk about the things that matter to others (their pain and trauma) and never things that matter to me (my pain and trauma), I’m going to be a big “disappointment.”3

To be clear, I’m not planning to be part of, let alone create, a space that denies, questions, or has problems with my dignity, belonging, and flourishing. 

I left spaces that othered me. I do not intend to create or be part of a space with similar inclinations and unwillingness to unlearn.

And a gentle word, if you’re white and follow a black, brown, or indigenous person for what they can give you, please don’t assume their offerings are the sum of who they are as a person.  

Don’t follow and then get critical, passive-aggressive, and paternalistic when they open up about their personal pain or speak about something you’re uncomfortable with, something that matters to them and you might need to address.

If you find those or other types of conversations uncomfortable and not something you wish to engage with, there’s an unfollow/unsubscribe button (and you don’t even have to announce your departure).

I spend my days doing what I do because I genuinely enjoy it: I like supporting others. But I will not self-abandon. I did that for decades, and people, it’s not nice. 

I want a space that is sensitive and curious about other people’s experiences. My hope is for a community with a growing capacity, or at least respect, for other people’s lived experiences. 

God does not ask us to abandon ourselves

For a long time, evangelical/conservative spaces have taught that the most acceptable form of spirituality is the one in which your needs and safety don’t exist. If you’re tired of being told to take your place in the valley of desolation, if you’re tired of keeping a “team mindset” while your partner carries on, unconfronted about their self-centeredness, I wrote Courage: Reflections and Liberation for the Hurting Soul for you. You deserve better. Order Courage on Amazon I PDF

Courage book by Ngina Otiende


  1. For those who feel safe /choose to continue exploring spirituality/faith.
  2. Missionaries, colonized Christianity and the basket of racism are the only topics that generate strong feelings in white survivor spaces (and white spaces, in general) and which sends stronger views to my inboxes.
  3. For those ready to do the work: When old and current conditioning is triggered, and you experience strong emotional responses, remember that your freedom starts with developing a capacity to sit with those strong emotional experiences and listen to what they tell you. I’m not able to help anyone process those feelings but there are people and books that can help. Check out a list of resources at the end of this blog post Shiny Happy People – An African American Perspective


  1. I expected this debate to rear it’s ugly head, given the evolution of gender these days. The whole topic in my opinion, has gone awry.

    I don’t care how you want to refer to God to suit your own needs, that’s your business. However I believe the Bible uses the pronoun “He” and so I do and have always. Jesus called him “Father” as well and being that Jesus was in Human form, then I accept that He would know.

    Men and women are purposely different but both equal in value, intellect and capability. The are male and female counterparts and partners in marital union. To expand on that is up to one’s needs of course but please don’t allow this topic to be one of focus in this group. If it is to some, perhaps their issues involve as MORE than marital issues.

    I appreciate your welcoming responses to this subjectmatter.

  2. “I feel tender, cautious and peaceful in the parts of me that were conditioned to see God as removed from my female existence and experience.”

    Wow, yes….. I guess I’d never thought about why I felt God didn’t fully “get me” as a woman, and why He felt so distant. No matter how many times I’ve tried explaining what it’s like to be a woman, especially in Christian circles, I get blank stares from men. But God fully understands me…….that’s really healing, thank you!! I don’t believe God is male or female, but the culmination of both, since Genesis says that He created male and female in HIS Image, but I’ve still only thought of Him as “another one of the guys”, because it’s how He was always presented.

  3. Kalinago Woryi says:

    I think the operative statement made in this blog is that YOU believe God is gender-less, and that God does not fit into human concepts of gender.

    It is that vantage point that has your position against objections and upset as some sort of conservative evangelistic cultist overreaction.

    Yet I do not belong to such a sentiment of doctrine and find your use of this platform to introduce a sensitized comfort in seeing God the way you do – without gender, and so, being able to be simultaneously referred to as a she – as merely a carting of your personal perspective.

    Yes, many women suffer gender abuse that is perpetuated by Christianese nonsense and a stringent and linear socialization of gender roles. I am one such.

    Yet I believe the attempt to help abused women deal with “triggers” by removing gender is as ridiculous as societal attempts to create a gender-less society that remains blind to our obvious biological differences.

    There is a sound reason why so many societies around the world have a historic cultural notion of the earth as a Mother from whose “womb” we humans were created. Given that, the concept of a masculine God makes perfect sense in understanding creation. God shaped and breathed life into the earthen soil and created human.

    So how I feel or how you feel or any abused woman (as this is your concern in pitching this feelings over gender) is really irrelevant.

    There is a gender full account of God, HIS son, HIS spirit.

    If your concern is addressing the gender abuses in church that causes women to disproportionately suffer then teach women to be less triggered by the ignorance of gender socializations and strengthened enough to respect that a FATHER God created them with an entirely different purpose and role. The over sensitive nature of culture is just as destructive as the abuses of male toxicity in this world and in the church.

    Incidentally, if you really want to tackle the issue of gender abuse, perhaps you should ask men how they feel about being referred to as a BRIDE of Christ. Using that to tackle the real issue of gender abuse by males in Christianity would be more useful than pushing an agenda to create an asexual God

    1. Emma Scherer says:

      Wow a way to further impose your beliefs onto this harmless article. This comment is why we feel abused ,because when we do come to peace and clarity with who God is to us, it’s mocked and put in our face that we’re explicitly wrong due to a gender hierarchy rather than viewing this as our right to explore and question God and it further perpetuates her point of the article.

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