an overhaul of language

“When we only speak of God in the male form, that’s actually giving us a deficient understanding of who God is.” Last year, a group within the Church of England called for God to be referred to not just as male, but also female.


A group within the Church of England is calling for God to be referred to as female following the selection of the first female bishops.

The group wants the church to recognise the equal status of women by overhauling official liturgy, which is made up almost exclusively of male language and imagery to describe God.

Rev Jody Stowell, a member of Women and the Church (Watch), the pressure group that led the campaign for female bishops, said: “Orthodox theology says all human beings are made in the image of God, that God does not have a gender. He encompasses gender – he is both male and female and beyond male and female. So when we only speak of God in the male form, that’s actually giving us a deficient understanding of who God is.”

[…]

The Rev Emma Percy, chaplain of Trinity College Oxford and a member of Watch, said the effect of using both male and female language would be to get rid of “the notion that God is some kind of old man in the sky”.

She said many people in the church had been having this debate for a long time. “It’s just the church moves slowly. [The debate] caught the imagination now because we’ve got women bishops so in a sense the church has accepted that women are equally valued in God’s sight and can represent God at all levels. We want to encourage people to be freer, and we want to get the Liturgical Commission to understand that people are actually quite open to this and there is room for richer language to be used.”

In her role at the university, Percy said she had noticed people had become more open to modern terminology. “In the last two or three years we’ve seen a real resurgence and interest in feminism, and younger people are much more interested in how gender categories shouldn’t be about stereotypes. We need to have a language about God that shows God can be expressed in lots of diverse terms,” she said.

Read the full article, published on 1 June 2015, at The Guardian.

Featured Image: Reverend Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first female bishop

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