Is Church of England right to consider giving God gender-neutral pronouns?
- The Church of England announced their consideration in adopting gender-neutral language in reference to God. Bishop Michael Ipgrave asserted that the Church’s Liturgical Commission plans to launch a new research project, however, any changes would go through “extensive” study and legislation.
- Grammarly defines a gender-neutral pronoun as a “pronoun that does not specify the gender of the person it refers to.” In recent years, the plural pronoun, “they” and “them,” used to describe multiple people has been used to refer to one individual.
- On February 9, 2023, the Church of England’s national assembly voted to allow priests to bless same-sex marriages and partnerships, while still banning church weddings for the same couples.
- The names of God are plentiful throughout the Christian Bible ranging from Yahweh, Jehovah, Adonai, Elohim, and countless others.
- Although God is referenced in the Bible by masculine pronouns and took the form of man in Jesus Christ, the spirit of God “does not possess human characteristics or limitations.”
- A 2018 YouGov poll found that 41% of Christians believe God does not have a human gender identity. Thirty-six percent think God is male, while 1% believe God is female.
The concept of a genderless God makes sense with what the Church teaches. According to scripture, the Christian God has no literal body and, as such, cannot be considered either male or female. Without a body, one does not have a definitive gender. Further, the Christian creation story claims that God created the first person, Adam, an act that requires participation from both sexes, so gendering the deity simply doesn't make sense. This type of ambiguity and gender fluidity is accurately reflected in the Church's decision to explore these more neutral pronouns.
In the Church of England, it is often said that the Lord works in mysterious ways. If one truly believes that a higher power is directing life on Earth, one must recognize the existence of transgender and gender-fluid individuals, as they were created with the same love and intention common to all of humanity. This simple acknowledgment alone merits an exploration of what changes a few simple pronouns might be like for the faith.
This updated language is in keeping with modern thinking. When we read philosophical treatises, scientific studies, and other great works from past centuries, the gendered language sounds out of date and not in keeping with our modern expectations of inclusion. Language is a tool constantly evolving alongside societal expectations and understanding, including the language used in texts such as the Bible. By considering gender-neutral pronouns for their God, the Church of England shows that it is interested in becoming a modern and relevant institution.
Religion is not supposed to be so malleable that it bends to cultural whims. Christianity—England's official religion—especially must hold fast to its biblical foundation, even if that puts it in opposition to the dominant culture. If the Church of England decides to refer to God in gender-neutral terms, it would essentially be instructing priests to stop using male pronouns or titles when referring to God. Such a change would make it impossible to pray to God as 'Our Father,' as Jesus taught his followers. This is no small thing, signaling the Church has a stronger adherence to today's gender identity cult than to orthodox biblical and historical Christianity, which undergirds its existence.
The Bible is unchanged and authoritative among true Christians, providing the foundation of the Church and has remained the same for over 2,000 years. It is unlike other documents, such as a constitution, which can be amended. Jesus refers to God as 'Father' and with male pronouns repeatedly. Not only that, but Jesus, whom Christians believe is God Himself in human flesh, was born a man and took the well-known Messianic title, Son of Man.
If members of the Church of England's hierarchy believe both the Bible and Jesus are mistaken in this, perhaps they should consider a different line of work. Bending the knee to the pressures of culture is a mistake, as there will always be another issue with more demands for change. The Church is mistakenly looking in places outside the Bible to find its moral compass, which is how it can merge gender theory into its liturgy despite how God has chosen to refer to Himself throughout all scripture. The doctrine of God as masculine (see Isaiah 7:14) is straightforward and scriptural.