Church’s Radical Plan To Make God Gender Neutral

The Episcopal Church has formed a committee to work towards revising the Book of Common Prayer to include gender-neutral language.

What you need to know
  • The Episcopal Church has outlined a radical plan to remove all gender-specific language referring to God
  • It would take more than 10-years to revise the Book of Common Prayers
  • Costing estimates are around $13-million

If you’ve read the bible – or even if you haven’t – you’re probably aware that God is often referred to with rather masculine language.

Holy Father, King, Lord.  The almighty upstairs is often male.

There’s never really been much issue with that until now.

The Episcopal Church is considering a massive overhaul of its Book of Common Prayer, used worldwide in its congregations, to refer to the God as neither male nor female.

Professor Constant Mews, from Monash University, believes reforming the language of Christian prayer is potentially hugely controversial, because "it is so profoundly shaped by masculine imagery."

"There will certainly be heated debate from parishioners."

According to the Episcopal Church website, the traditional male-centric language could be preventing spiritual inclusion while creating a “barrier to evangelizing young people”.

"Patriarchal language does alienate many young people; religious language does need to be as inclusive as possible," Mews said.

The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church is currently underway in Austin this week, where a committee has been formed to provide a resolution to this ‘problem’.

According to the Church, the committee led an impassioned testimony, with speakers calling for an immediate revision to “correct the overwhelming use of masculine language to refer both to God and to human beings, as well as a lack of imagery calling for the care of creation.”

"Julian of Norwich, a famous female writer in the middle ages, had no hesitation in calling God mother," Mews said .

"If all religious language was gender neutral, it would become impersonal and unappealing."

One of the proposed ideas is a modernisation of the Book of Common Prayer, which was last revised 39 years ago.

The Church believes however, that a complete revision would take many years, and likely wouldn’t be ready until close to 2030 at a cost of more than $13 million. Money towards a lost cause according to Mews.

"I suspect any proposal to give up all use of masculine imagery in prayer is likely to be a lost cause."

The other proposal, would offer “instead a process of deeper engage with the current 1979 Prayer Book, to help members explore riches of services and prayers that are seldom used.”

The Episcopal Church is already considered very progressive, being a supporter of the LGBT community while considering adding same-sex marriage ceremonies.