If you ask most anyone, God is a He. Hey, I go with it too, most of the time. It’s easier to give Him a simple pronoun. And the image of God as father is one of the most comforting things imaginable. But the truth is that God is more complicated than gender.

Those who would refer to God as masculine get this conceit from the Bible. But what is the Bible if not a book? That’s what the name “Bible” means. And all books have an audience. The Bible’s audience — spoiler alert! — was not meant to be women. At the time the Bible was written, women couldn’t read. They couldn’t participate in religious ceremonies on the same footing as men. Even today, women aren’t given equal place in the hierarchy of some faiths (I’m looking at you, Catholic church). So guess what? The Bible wasn’t written for women. Also, it wasn’t written in English. Who translated it? More men. No wonder God looks like a “He” in the Good Book.

Only…is that even true? A wise woman of faith who devoted her lifetime to reading the Bible in its original language once told me otherwise. God is referred to in feminine terms throughout the Bible. In Job 10:16 (and at least four other places in the Old Testament alone), God is called a “lioness.” Not a lion. It would have been just as easy to write “lion,” but they didn’t. Why? God is also seen drawing his people to Him “like a hen with her chicks.” Sounds pretty motherly to me.

But what about Jesus? Doesn’t He call God “Father”? Actually, the word He almost always uses is a non-gender-specific word for “parent.” Makes you think, huh?

What if God is bigger than anything we can dream up with our petty gender roles and small boxes made for conveniently pigeon-holing one another? What if God is He and She and It and Them and All? To riff on the movie “Jaws,” “We’re going to need a bigger pronoun.”