God - Male

1. A number of authors express the view that religions which stress the maleness of the Supreme Being tend to deify the masculine principle and see it as the only source of legitimate authority. It is important, therefore, to appreciate the Bahá’í perspective on the nature of God. To assist ... in her study of this subject, we attach a brief compilation on this subject, from which a number of points can be drawn:

* From the Bahá’í perspective, the "Essence" of God is "unknowable".

* The "Reality of Divinity ... is invisible, incomprehensible, inaccessible, a pure essence which cannot be described ..."

* God is "exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence..."

* "God is never flesh". The Godhead has no physical form and does not in any way resemble a human being, male or female.

* The "attributes" of the Manifestations of God are the means by which the "Divine characteristics and perfections" of God are made known to humanity.

For additional information about the nature of God, ... is referred to the book by Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Desire of the World (Oxford: George Ronald, 1982). Of particular interest is the listing of the names and titles of God found on pp. 167-186. It will be seen that many of these titles encompass such feminine qualities and attributes as have been associated with the so-called "Great Goddess". (The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Feb 23, Ancient Goddess Religions)

2. The Manifestations of God embody the names, the attributes and the perfections of God. While ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has clearly affirmed that women and men both reveal the attributes of God and that "from the spiritual viewpoint there is no difference between them", the Manifestations have the particular function of revealing the Will of God to humanity. Bahá’u’lláh explains in the Gleanings that the Manifestation of God "representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation".

Concerning the sex of the Manifestations of God and the implications for the equality of women and men, the Universal House of Justice, in a letter dated 27 October 1986 written on its behalf to an individual believer, provides the following elucidation:

Even though there have been outstanding women such as Sarah, Sayyah, the Virgin Mary, Fatimih, Tahirih and the Greatest Holy Leaf in every Dispensation, it is an incontrovertible fact that all Manifestations of God known to us have been men. Moreover, it is a clear provision in Bahá’í administration that the Guardians were to be men and that membership on the Universal House of Justice is confined to men. Whether these facts point to a differentiation in function that is unalterable, or whether it was merely a characteristic of a period which will change when mankind attains its maturity is a matter that will, no doubt, become clear in the future. The important point for Bahá’ís to remember is that, in face of the categorical pronouncements in Bahá’í Scripture establishing the equality of men and women, even these facts are no evidence at all of the superiority of the male over the female sex. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has explained that equality does not mean identity of function. He has also stated that the few areas in which men and women are not equal are "negligible".

We must also remember that sex is a characteristic of this world, not of the spiritual world.

Hence, while no known Manifestations of God have, to date, been female, it is also true that throughout religious history outstanding women, who do not have the station of Manifestation or goddess, have performed many of the creative, nurturant and protective functions that have been ascribed to female deities and goddesses in ancient times. In other words, religious history provides examples of female role models who can inspire, motivate and empower the (women) believers. Further, it is interesting to observe that Bahá’u’lláh refers to His Revelation as the "Mother Book", which symbolizes, among other things, the creative and regenerative influence of His teachings, and in Some Answered Questions (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1984), ‘Abdu’l-Bahá likens the Law of God to a woman. See Chapter 13.

The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Feb 23, Ancient Goddess Religions