“God is no longer male” reads the UK Telegraph headline. If there is one paper I can count on to totally screw up a religion story and go for all shock with no substance, it’s the Telegraph. There’s a whole host of issues just in the headline.
|Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel|
For starters, the actual church decision was to remove masculine language from their services. They did not say, as the headline suggested, that God suddenly was no longer male. Here’s the facts:
The new form of worship, which removes words such as “Lord, he, his, him” and “mankind” from services, has been written by the church in an attempt to acknowledge that God is “beyond human gender.”
Episcopalian bishops have approved the introduction of more “inclusive” language, which deliberately removes references suggesting that God is of male gender.
These stories are so idiotic because the press does not “get religion” and apparently neither does the Scottish Episcopal Church. God has never been male, but the Bible uses masculine language. Scripture refers to God as Father and Jesus as Son. The Bible uses the masculine pronoun to refer to all of the persons of the Trinity.
God, through His word (and yes, I did say His), chose to relate to us and identify Himself to us, using masculine language. It should be obvious that God is not male. He does not have actual hands or wings or arms or any of the other anthropomorphic or zoomorphic imagery with which the Bible describes Him. However, that does not mean that type of imagery is not useful or inspired.
God chose to relate to us primarily as a Father. This does not mean that a female cannot relate to God. Can a daughter not relate to her earthly father? The absurdity of the argument is that a father would have to become a woman to relate to his daughter.
Rev. Darren McFarland, convener of the church’s liturgy committee, said “We are not saying God is not masculine. God is also feminine. The problem is trying to use human language to describe the indescribable.” That is an issue, but it is an even bigger problem to use incorrect, unbiblical human language to describe the indescribable. God is not masculine and feminine. God is neither masculine or feminine. However, we do ourselves a disservice and inch our way toward heresy when we choose to shift language away from Scripture and toward cultural sentiments and sensitivities.