‘Christians have recognised since ancient times that God is neither male nor female’
The Church of England is to consider allowing priests to use alternatives to referring to God as ‘he’.
The Church said it would launch a new project on “gendered language” referencing God in the spring to decide on any changes, after priests asked to be allowed to use gender-neutral terms instead.
The move has been welcomed by liberal Christians who argue that using exclusively male language to refer to God is a ” driver of much continuing discrimination and sexism against women”.
Meanwhile, conservatives opposing the idea claim that “male and female imagery is not interchangeable.”
The project was prompted by Rev Joanna Stobart, from the Diocese of Bath and Wells, asked at synod 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 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”.
It is not yet clear how any changes would impact the Lord’s prayer, the central Christian prayer which Jesus Christ is said to have instructed his followers to say together through the generations.
In this prayer, the term ‘Our Father’ is used to refer to God.
However, conservatives have hit back at the suggestion of allowing Christians to use non-gendered pronouns when referring to God.
Rev Dr Ian Paul said any changes would represent an abandonment of the Church of England’s own doctrine.
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