Thursday, September 09, 2010

Should our Language of God be Gender-Neutral?

UK Daily Mail reports that the Scottish Episcopal Church has caused controversy by removing masculine references to God in a new order of service. The new liturgy and worship forms with more "inclusive" language are an attempt to acknowledge that God is "beyond human gender." Not every church, however, will be using the new form -- only those who have difficulty with a male God. To that end, words such as 'Lord, he, his, him' have been removed; 'mankind' has been replaced with "world" in most instances. Traditionalists have criticized the changes on the grounds that they smack of political correctness and because they believe they are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible. The church's Liturgy Committee produced the new form in consultation with the Faith & Order Board of General Synod and the College of Bishops.

While it is true that God is beyond human gender-- both male and female were created in God's image-- the Biblical language of God is always male? C.S. Lewis, in That Hideous Strength, says that God is always the male and we are always the female. Which is to say, God is always the forceful one, we the passive. That sounds offensive to feminists, and so it should. Women are not necessarily passive. For this reason the language of God being male might be offensive to some.

However, just on a biological level, we need to recognize that the male is more aggressive, more apt to be forceful. This is hormonal, not cultural. And the Bible teaches that it is God who goes to war for us, it is God who is aggressive for us, so that we do not have to be. In some ways, for us males, God castrates us. He forces us to surrender our maleness and give it up to Him, allowing him to be the Alpha male.

For this reason, I think it is good to keep the traditional language. To recognize God in the traditional male role, giving us the freedom to remain submissive to Him.

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