The Church of England may stop referring to God by masculine pronouns.
The Church has announced two new commissions exploring the issue after a priest suggested adopting gender-neutral pronouns.
Reverend Joanne Stobart of Ilminster and Whitelackington in Somerset at synod urged the Church to use “more inclusive language” and to refer to God in a “non-gendered way.”
“This is nothing new. Christians have recognised since ancient times that God is neither male nor female, yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship,” a spokesperson for the Church of England said, per Firstpost. “There has been greater interest in exploring new language since the introduction of our current forms of service in contemporary language more than 20 years ago.”
Other clergy members oppose the push for gender-neutral pronouns as a departure from the core tenants of the religion.
Reverend Dr. Ian Paul said such a change would be accepting a doctrine that is not “grounded in the scriptures,” per ABC News 4.
Rev. Paul, a member of the church’s Archbishop council, said that “God is not sexed, unlike humanity” but “male and female imagery is not interchangeable.”
“The fact that God is called ‘Father’ can’t be substituted by ‘Mother’ without changing meaning, nor can it be gender-neutralised to ‘Parent’ without loss of meaning. Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but relate to their offspring in different ways,” said Paul.
Reverend Dr. Michael Ipgrave, who serves as the Bishop of Lichfield and vice-chair of the liturgical commission, said the church had explored the question of using gendered language when referring to God for several years.
“After some dialogue between the two Commissions in this area, a new joint project on gendered language will begin this spring,” said Ipgrave, per The Independent. “In common with other potential changes to authorised liturgical provision, changing the wording and number of authorised forms of absolution would require a full Synodical process for approval.”
The Church of England has largely embraced modern gender ideology. In December 2018, the Church published a guide on how to welcome people who identify as transgender into the faith. The guide, which the House of Bishops approved, encouraged clergy members to devise “creative and sensitive” ways to mark a person’s gender transition.
“The Church of England welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ, and rejoices in the diversity of that body into which all Christians have been baptized by one Spirit,” said the guide, per The Guardian.
The announcement was opposed by traditionalists within the Church.
The leadership of the Church of England is currently preparing to vote on whether it should offer a blessing for same-sex couples.