Are Angels Male or Female?

Angels--are they pure white light or beautiful women in long robes with graceful wings?

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Are angels male or female?

This is the question children ask most often. Many of the pictures we see of angels, especially those on Christmas cards, are of a woman with long blond hair, dressed in a flowing white robe and with graceful wings.

But are angels mostly women? No! They are neither men nor women. They do not have a gender as we know it. They do not marry or have children (Matthew 22:28-30); they are sexless beings, at least in the normal sense of the word. It is possible that celestial beings have a gender in a way unknown to us. C.S. Lewis speculated about this in his fictional space trilogy, Perelandra.

What we do know is that angels are not masculine or feminine in the way we use those terms. When I sit on the floor surrounded by five-year-old children who ask that question in Sunday School, I simply answer, "Angels are not boys or girls. They are different than people. Different and wonderful."

Don’t all angels in the Bible have masculine names?

Whenever I am leading a seminar on angels and this question is raised, I ask: "What are the names of angels in the Bible?"

The answers come quickly: "Gabriel and Michael."

"That’s right," I answer. "Are there others?"

For a long moment, there is usually silence before someone calls out the name of Lucifer, the fallen angel. These three are the only angels named in the Bible. The Apocrypha adds Raphael, and Uriel is also mentioned in Jewish, Kabbalistic, and some Christian traditions. The Kabbalah includes many other angel names, most ending in -el, from the Hebrew root indicating "God." These names are all masculine.

I can picture the angels chuckling about our speculation over their names. Since there are millions and millions of angels and we only know the names of a few, we certainly cannot draw any conclusion about the gender of angels based on their names. We are limited to a human vocabulary. It is quite possible that countless angels have wonderful names we have never heard on earth, names that are truly angelic but neither masculine nor feminine.

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William D. Webber
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