I'm currently reading H.L. Mencken's The American Language. It just occurred to me that when the notion of gender is introduced as an adjective for a thing that is not a sexually reproducing creature, that thing gets a little bit anthropomorphized. Why don't we refer to God as "It?"
When you say that "he" or "she" did this or that in English, you are in fact subtly asserting that the subject or object of description is human or sentient, or at least that you are not describing an abstract concept. I'm no language expert, but I do know that in French and in Spanish, all nouns are of this or that gender: ("La" denotes the feminine version of the "the" in French, as "Le" denotes the masculine. In Spanish "La" is also feminine; "El" denotes masculine.)
For those who have never learned anything but English, this may surprise you. For those who've already studies these and other languages, consider the notion that in English, gender specification manipulates language to propel belief in a sentient entity, and a supernatural one at that.
In Spanish or in French, every object and thing is designated either as male or as female, but English is the exception among European linguistics. This matters because it helps to account for the above average degree of religious fervor in the United States.
God has been and is still referred to as 'it' by many. Spinoza thought of God as more like nature, and some people's impression of God is more like physics. God could mean 'reality' or simply 'fate.' I think that some relate the notion of God to some variety of collective or shared intelligence. In English we would never assign a gender to nature or to physics, but in other western languages these ideas have genders. Sex is how you make people, and I won't be bothered with the endless varieties of related, contrived hangups.
To refer to a ship as 'she' or to refer to a hand as 'he' it utterly foreign to English monoglots, so I ask you to consider a language in which all nouns have gender, and consider if this 'misuse' may have approximated He and Him as this or that aspect of plain old reality?
This may help make sense of the spread of religion in varying European cultures.