For decades, the gender of God has prompted debate within the Church, with many calling for male pronouns He and Him, as well as reference to Our Father, to be scrapped in favour of either gender neutral or female alternatives.
Now, in what would mark a departure from centuries of tradition, bishops are to launch a project “on gendered language” referencing God in church services later this year.
The move has been criticised by conservatives, who have warned that “male and female imagery is not interchangeable”. However, liberal Christians have welcomed it, claiming that “a theological misreading of God as exclusively male is a driver of much continuing discrimination and sexism against women”.
“He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created..” Genesis 5:2
Details of the plans emerged in a written question to the Liturgical Commission, which prepares and promotes forms of service and religious worship in the Church, at General Synod, the Church’s lawmaking body, which is sitting this week.
Any permanent changes or rewriting of scriptures with gendered language would have to be agreed by a future meeting of Synod.
‘Develop more inclusive language’
The Rev Joanna Stobart, from the Diocese of Bath and Wells, asked what steps were being taken to offer congregants alternatives to referring to God with male pronouns and if there was any update “to develop more inclusive language in our authorised liturgy”.
She also asked bishops “to provide more options for those who wish to use authorised liturgy and speak of God in a non-gendered way, particularly in authorised absolutions where many of the prayers offered for use refer to God using male pronouns”.
In response, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Michael Ipgrave, replying as vice-chairman of the Liturgical Commission, said: “We have been exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years, in collaboration with the Faith and Order Commission.
“After some dialogue between the two commissions in this area, a new joint project on gendered language will begin this spring.”
The precise details of the project remain unknown, with Dr Ipgrave declining to comment further.
Prof Helen King, the vice-chairman of the Synod’s gender and sexuality group, said: “Questions around gendered language and God have been around for decades, if not centuries, but still have the power to bring out strong reactions.
“For some, God as father is helpful because of their own positive experiences of a loving parent. For others, God as father may reinforce a bad experience of a strict disciplinarian as their father. If we dig deeper, clearly God is not gendered, so why do we restrict our language for God in gendered ways?”
A spokesman for Women and the Church, a national campaign group for gender equality in the Church of England, also welcomed the move “to look at the development of more inclusive language in our authorised liturgy”.
‘God is not sexed, unlike humanity’
Read More @ The telegraph HERE
‘ …clearly God is not gendered, so why do we restrict our language for God in gendered ways?” Professor Helen King. Seems to me Paul was quite correct in stating women should remain silent!
” …For others, God as father may reinforce a bad experience of a strict disciplinarian as their father.” My own father was a chronic, hopeless alcoholic – three bottles of Scotch whisky a day for starters. Fatherhood and alcoholism are opposite sides of the wall.
In my fiftieth year I began to raise two baby step grand children, along with my dutiful Christian wife. There was no inherited role model to speak of, just violence. A Christian friend gave me a copy of a book on the Fatherhood of God by Derek Prince. That, and my Bible, were my guide for almost twenty years.
They didn’t turn out so badly using Our Father who art in Heaven as a role model.
Yep! Professor King and her kind would be better remaining silent. Their opinions are so destructive.
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