Eugene Cho

god and his penis

This is the most thought provoking blog post I read this past week.  Just the title, “Dear God, do you have a penis?” makes you feel uncomfortable in so many ways. 

Like others who peruse through my blog to get a deeper glimpse into my scattered mind and heart, I enjoy checking out vomitaceous thoughts of many of the other Quest bloggers.  Some good, some bad, some fluff, some deep, some always ranty, some too happy, etc.  One blog [amongst many] I’d call your attention to belongs to “Brian.”  In his words, Brian is “a materialist wishing to be a minimalist – an ambivalent mess desiring to be a lover of others – a fearful man hoping for great courage – a husband-in-process – a father-in-training – a student of friendship.”  He and his family have been at Quest for the past year+ and I appreciate his willingness to wrestle with hard questions – even if it leaves alot of mud on his face.  Here’s a short excerpt from one of his posts this past week:

Dear God, Do you have a penis?

I know, you’re immediately interested (or pissed).

As I have been thinking about gender and sexuality lately, I have some questions for God:

1. Are you male? Because if not, we’ve been incorrectly calling you “Him” or “He” and saying “His” which, the last time I checked were all pronouns associated with maleness. And I know that we say, “God is outside of gender” or “God is gender-less” but there is still a great ignorance in the fact that we have continued to label our Higher Being with male language.

Of course, the alternatives are few. After all, this is God we are talking about here.

We can: use the name “God” all the time, but then you are left with saying awkwardly repetitive things like, “God loves God’s children so much that God didn’t want them to perish, so God sent God’s son to save all our sorry asses.”

A bit “God-y”, eh?

We can also: eliminate gender altogether, so God becomes an “it.” If God is an “it”, then I think I want to change religions. It is way too impersonal for me. She/He (clever foreshadowing) has to be more than an “it.” [read the entire post]

Ok, who’s pissed? Interested?  Read the entire entry…there’s much to think about. 


Previous Relevant Post[s]: Women, Created in [His] Image

Filed under: christianity, emerging church, religion

18 Responses

  1. LG says:

    You guys are way tooo liberal! Stick with the Bible!

  2. i love this… it totally embodies the fact that our language is one of the greatest constrictors… we are stuck… think about the word “love” in the english language… how do you differentiate in english, “i love pizza” “i love God” “i love my mom” “i love office space”…

    it is also a huge struggle to define infinite things with finite terms… one of the greater challenges here on earth, in my humble opinion…

    i loved both posts…


  3. jklam says:

    the (phallocentric) language we use to describe our faith and god isn’t surprising given the christian obsession with masculine power. is god male, female, or does he transcend our sex/gender categories altogether, and is just wholly other? i’m gonna put my money on the latter.

    on another note, i think it’s so important to call into question the assumptions that undergird the things we believe. our belief’s about god’s gender did not emerge from a vacuum afterall, and should be subjected to scrutiny, especially considering how important these beliefs are.

    i think such questioning isn’t a mark of liberalism or conservatism; just intellectual honesty, which thankfully isn’t staked to an ideology.

  4. pdxWoman says:

    I’ve heard, but do not know for sure myself, that there are names in the Bible which refer to God but are feminine (Elohim, a plural feminine?? I don’t know exactly why that’s what is coming to my mind). The “Wisdom of God”, believed by some to be incarnated as Jesus, is “Sophia”.

    Personally, I sometimes say “He” and sometimes “She”, and I find (both Biblically and personally) that God is both and neither.

    jklam: I agree with your statement that “such questioning isn’t a mark of liberalism or conservatism; just intellectual honesty, which thankfully isn’t staked to an ideology.” That’s much more Christ-like than the response I had in mind to rebut LG’s comment.

  5. Tracy says:

    I can answer Brian’s 4th question using the scriptures from the good ole’ Bible in which I believe:

    Brian’s 4th question states:
    “Why was Jesus a man?”

    Here is my answer from scriptures:

    Genesis 2:21-23 tells us that God put Adam into a deep sleep, during which time God made Adam’s bride, Eve, from Adam’s side—a wound in Adam’s side produced a bride, the Bible called Eve.
    After the last Adam (JESUS, a male) died upon the cross—suffering the sleep of death for everyone—His side was pierced by a spear thrust (John 19:34). In His death he paid the penalty for mankind’s sins (1 Corinthians 15:1–4). Those who will repent and put their faith in Him are united with Christ in a relationship which the Bible compares it to that of a bride towards her husband (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 19:6–8). Thus a wound in the last Adam’s (JESUS) side also produced a bride—the true Church!—‘a glorious bride, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing … holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians 5:27).

  6. Tracy says:

    Brian’s 3rd question states:

    “Why is the background of much of our theology from the perspective of white males?”

    The answer to this question has historical roots in racism. You did not start it I did not start it but we are living in and out the consequences of it. I believe theology from the ‘white males’ perspective was embraced in our churches because of inferiority standards and to keep the races separated. And all other reasons are the results of this…

  7. Tracy says:

    I thank Brian for his thoughts…he has made it very clear that we need to focus on the fact that God is a Spirit. Thank you for posting this Pastor. Okay I will not post another consecutive message…hehehehe.

  8. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Were you falling behind in hate-email lately? 😉

    These are great questions with which to wrestle. We miss out so much when we don’t engage the hard questions, even if we end up with the same conclusions we had previously held.

    For me, the “God” and “Godself” language is a little bit impersonal. It sounds like a pro wrestler talking about himself in the third person all the time. However, I certainly recognize the issues with which people are dealing when they use this language and I wouldn’t try to impose my preference on them.

    When I address God in prayer as “Father” or refer to “Him” I don’t picture my dad or another male human being. I do find precedent for this kind of language in my personal prayer life in the example of how Jesus prayed, though. I’m not trying to give any pat answers — just sharing where I am coming from.

  9. Trailer Thoughts says:

    Well One way or another we will know one day. So why get mad now?

  10. And now it’s time to remember the Trinity 🙂

    Presumably Jesus has a penis. He also has a Palestinian appearance, experience working as a carpenter, no experience being a parent, and didn’t have a chance to get old before dying. God became human, so God had to become a particular human, who has a gender along with all the other sorts of different particular details–and if anything is universal about being human, it’s the fact that we all have those different particular details.

    But Jesus doesn’t exhaust the Trinity. Taken together, God as Trinity is transcendent, far above and beyond everything earthly. If transcendent, isn’t the Trinity also beyond gender?

    And that’s without even touching the whole realm of metaphor–the Bible gives us a surprising array of feminine metaphors for God, given the patriarchy of the time.

  11. I meant to say above that I believe Jesus can identify with our experiences of parenthood even though he never had kids–and likewise I believe Jesus can identify with my experience of being female even though he wasn’t.

    In the same vein, the Trinity’s transcendence means that it’s fine to say He or She in prayer. We can’t reduce all of God to just one gender.

  12. Jennifer says:


    As you know, this is an issue very close to my heart. Thank you for taking it on here.

    One of the reasons I love Jesus is because he treated women so differently than any other man of his day…He allowed them to sit at his feet and learn, he allowed a bleeding woman to touch him (when everyone else would have freaked out becuase she made him unclean), he had private and personal conversations with women he “shouldn’t” be talking to. I think God had to come as a man, not because man most closely represented God, but because the way women were treated needed to be overturned and redeemed more than the way men were treated.

    Any chance we’ll ever have a Depth class on gender?

  13. Ok Just to deflect heat off E here is a joke. .. a kid asks his mom “Mom, is God a man or a woman?” She thinks and says “well son God is kinda both… “well is God black or white? ” she replies again “I think God is kinda both” … “Mom, is God Micheal Jackson?”

    I’m here all week… don’t forget to tip your waitress…

  14. […] would be different if white supremacy hadn’t taken over”? September 28th, 2007 A: The answer to this question has historical roots in racism. You did not start it I did not start it but we are living in and out the consequences of it. I […]

  15. Meghan says:

    I second the hope for a depth class on gender!

  16. RK says:

    I think we have to keep in mind the cultural context of when Jesus lived…in some ways I think this helps me understand why Jesus was a male…it was a male dominant society. Just as we move from “Do not kill one another” to “Love one another” in the Old to New Testament. Maybe people we’re not ready for a female messiah then, and probably not now either. (maybe a female president, though?)

  17. […] a follow up to Brian and his question “Does God have a penis? I was surfing the web and found Eugene Echo’s site and he was blogging about Brian who goes to his church. I couldn’t resit answering […]

  18. […] a guy named Brian and his question “Does God have a penis? I was surfing the web and found Eugene Echo’s site and lack of answer while doing some research on biblical masculinity. If Brian came to my […]

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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.


my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease… || 1 day ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 1 day ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 4 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 4 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 4 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago