By Armita Rohani
The Anglican Church is considering using gender neutral terms during service as churches across the country are saying that God is not defined by the use of “He.” Clergy are now exploring the use of more inclusive language as gender identification has skyrocketed over the past 20 years. They are continuing to push to adapt the language with which one identifies God to a more “current” time period. The church stated in an email that “Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female, and we are now considering whether or not we could reflect that to a greater extent in language used in its services.” The Liturgical commission, responsible for preparing and advising church services, has reached out to the Faith and Order Commission–which advises on theology–to look further into the suggestions. The Anglican Church has added that “there are no current plans to abolish or substantially revise the existing liturgy.” The language that is going to be used to identify God will only be in service, and will be different from what is used in the Bible. Many theological scholars argue that God transcends gender and that “He is neither man nor woman: he is God,” even though they use the pronoun “he” in their statement and go against the masculine pronouns that are found in religious texts and prayers. It is unclear what term would replace “Our Father” in the Lord’s prayer, and any alterations that would depart the church from traditional teachings would need to be approved by the Church’s decision-making commission, Synod.
The suggestions are not being taken lightly, however, as Christians around the world criticize the possibility of the change, arguing that the Church is abandoning its own doctrine. One clergy member who opposes the change stated: “The fact that God is called ‘Father’ can’t be substituted by ‘Mother’ without changing meaning, nor can it be gender-neutralized to ‘Parent’ without loss of meaning. Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but relate to their offspring in different ways.” Another Christian argues: “A sin is a sin today as it was more than 2000 years ago. Why should we change the language Jesus used to address his Father to match it with today’s generation? This only comes to show how the church is more focused on pleasing the world than preaching the word of God.”