FROM THE EDITOR: We recently received a question about Ariana Grande’s newest song God is a Woman. How are Christians supposed to respond to it? Is she claiming that God is female? What exactly is going on here? Should we be offended by this or is it not a big deal to just enjoy it for the tune itself? One of our question answerers, Mary, gave an excellent response, which we wanted to share with you guys. —Cat
Thoughtfully thinking through the kind of music that you listen to is such an important part of making sure your heart continues to be fed with the right things to grow closer to God.
The question about Ariana Grande’s song God is a Woman has two parts to it. First, it’s important to talk about the idea of using feminine imagery to talk about God. We know that God Himself is not human but is the Creator of all humanity, both men and women (see Genesis 1:27). He is the Creator of gender, and He is outside of it. But the Bible can give us direction about how to talk about Him, since gender is part of how we experience the world.
The Bible does occasionally use motherly or feminine language to talk about God, with one of the most notable examples being in Matthew 23:37 where Jesus uses a motherly metaphor to refer to Himself: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (emphasis added).
All humanity—men and women—were made in God’s image, so it makes sense that women would uniquely reflect certain aspects of His character. That is why sometimes female imagery is helpful for describing something He does. This means that it’s not out of keeping with the Bible to also use feminine language to talk about parts of God’s heart.
However, that said, it’s also important to note that the vast majority of the time, the Bible talks about God as masculine—as a Father, a King, a Lord. So although it is not necessarily wrong to use female language, the biblical default is to talk about Him using male titles and pronouns.
Therefore, the statement “God is a woman” is not accurate from the biblical standpoint. God is not a woman. He can’t be reduced to gender at all in fact, but if we’re choosing a category through which to address Him, the biblical model is male. If you want to read more about this, check out the GotQuestions.org articles “Is it biblical to refer to God as God the mother?” and “Is God male or female?“
Although the statement “God is a woman” is theologically untrue, it’s not necessarily the kind of statement the singer Ariana Grande was even trying to make in her song. Ariana Grande is using the idea of a “god” to suggest that she has a level of sexual prowess so extreme that it would cause any of her potential lovers to claim she is divine. This means that God is being reduced to a metaphor for her and for sexual empowerment, which you can see played out throughout the lyrics (e.g. “baby, take my hand, save your soul”).
The most problematic thing about the song is not that it tries to claim that God is a woman. It’s that it endorses a kind of self-centered sexual dominance and implied promiscuity, and describes it as a kind of divine liberation. That message is not likely to encourage true, sound, healthy thinking about yourself, relationships, or God.
Messages like that should be handled very carefully. Especially if you’re the kind of person who tends to internalize the message of lyrics, you should be very aware of the kind of impact it could have on your thinking.
I hope this has been helpful to better understanding the song God is a Woman and how the Bible talks about God. Again, it’s a great thing that you are listening with intention and a desire to consume the right messages!
Mary Nikkel is a fan of stories about grace—whether they show up in writing, music, or photography form. She's been listening to and telling those stories as a professional writer for almost 10 years. Her most recent project is rockonpurpose.live, where she talks about rock music centered around truth and redemptive justice.