It seems like we've hit this topic before, but I can't seem to find the question. So, I'll repost. If someone else can find it, please let me know and we'll close this as a duplicate

I was always under the impression that God was male. However, I also heard once that he is also called "El Shaddai", which (so I heard) means "The Breasted God".

I'm not interested in anatomy, but in terminology.

Should we refer to God as "He"? It seems that other places in the Bible do just that.

Also, what about the Holy Spirit? I really prefer not to refer to the Holy Spirit as "it".

What's the appropriate pronoun for God and the Holy Spirit?

(Since this is a terminology question, I'm posting here in Meta.)

  • 2
    This question as it stands should be on main. Do you want to know about site policy or the nature of God?
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 18:54
  • I almost put it on main. I'm just interested in wording, though. As in "I like the Holy Spirit. [It/he/she] seems very real to me."
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 18:54
  • I've fixed the main question so that it reflects the fact that this is a wording question. That should help a lot.
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 20:42
  • Ah. Another use for zie.
    – TRiG
    Commented Sep 24, 2011 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


Scripture refers to all three persons of the trinity using the masculine personal pronoun, "he", including the Holy Spirit, who is a person and not simply a thing or force:

John 14:15-17, 25-26 (NIV)

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.


25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 15:26 (NIV)

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father — the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father — he will testify about me.

Furthermore, the scripture universally and without exception refers to God using personal masculine terms.

Since this is a Christianity centered site, we should do the same. Misuse of impersonal "it" and the clearly incorrect (and to Christians offensive) use of "she" should be edited and corrected.

Also, capitalizing personal pronouns for God is not done in English translations (and is, to my knowledge not applicable in source languages) and I would argue is incorrect grammar and should not be done (but I would not edit someone's post to change it).

  • Excellent. Thank you. I figured it was "he", but I didn't know for sure, since I generally think of the Holy Spirit as pretty much genderless (disembodied, even). Thanks!
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 12:30

Since the answer is indicative of ones theology, legitimate pronouns ought not be edited.

That said, I'd argue with anyone who referred to God the Father or God the Son as she.

Wisdom, is often referred to as she (See Sirach) and wisdom as an attribute of God might reasonably be called She if you wanted to stretch the analogy to the max.

In the Nicene Creed the Holy Spirit is referred to as He. That should do it for a good chunk of us.

  • 1
    So, is the Holy Spirit "he", "she", or "it"?
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 17:48
  • @Richard, let's see but we'll see if that's considered harmful. Sure would be useful if the Apostles Creed mentioned the Spirit more, but the Nicene Creed does "With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 18:08
  • I think pronouns are always optional. But they simplify the language. Otherwise it gets bulky. The question isn't whether it's optional, but which pronoun is correct.
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 18:11
  • @Richard well then my vote goes to He, even though I find it kind of strange. I can't repeat the Nicene Creed every week and not assent to it.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 18:13

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