Do the Abrahamic Religions have a Transgender God?


14 Aug 2016

Rabbi publishes article challenging the socially accepted sexuality of God

In light of incidents revolving around sexual discrimination against transgenders, Rabbi Mark Sameth published an article in The New York Times stating how, according to ancient texts, the God of Israel did not adhere to any one gender.

His article emphasizes how the Hebrew Bible offers a highly elastic view of gender when read in its original language of Hebrew.


Textual evidence from the Bible

Textual evidence from the Bible

Sameth offers several textual examples, pointing out the elasticity of gender identities in the Hebrew Bible.

For instance, Eve is referred to as "he" in Genesis 3:12, Adam as "them" in Genesis 1:27, Noah as "her" in Genesis 9:21, and Rebecca as a "young man" in Genesis 24:16.

Similarly, in Isaiah 49:23, it is prophesized that future Israeli kings would be "nursing kings".

Androgyny in Hinduism

In spite of the social prejudices against homosexuality and transgenders in contemporary India, Indian mythology had an androgynous God called Ardhanarishvara who was a composite of Shiva and Parvati. Ardhanarishvara was depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle.

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The Name of God

What is God's gender?

In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, Gods did not adhere to any single gender, but were, in fact, gender-fluid, and this trope may have been adopted by Israelites.

The Tetragrammaton or the Hebrew name for God, יהוה, translated as "YHWH" in Latin letters, is popularly pronounced as "Jehovah".

However, Sameth writes, early Israelite priests read the Tetragrammaton as Hu/Hi, the Hebrew for "He/She".


The implications of Sameth's claim

If Sameth's claims are held to be true, it would imply that the three Abrahamic, monotheistic religions of the world - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - has a transgender God.

It would thereby nullify any social prejudices against transgenders rooted in religion, and religious arguments against transgenders would fall flat on their faces.

However, Sameth's interpretation is bound to face severe opposition.

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