A group of women in the Church of England want to start referring to God by the feminine pronoun ‘She’ in a bid to combat alleged sexism.
The Sunday Times reports that liberal pressure group Women and the Church (Watch), which was one of the first groups to campaign for women priests in the Church of England, wants to challenge the use of exclusively male imagery and language to describe God.
The Rev Emma Percy, chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford said that referring to God as male makes women feel “less holy”:
“When we use only male language for God we reinforce the idea that God is like a man and, in doing so, suggest that men are therefore more like God than women.
“This means that women can see themselves as less holy and less able to represent Christ in the world . . . If we take seriously the idea that men and women are made in the image of God both male and female language should be used.”
Watch chairwoman Hilary Cotton said the issue had been discussed by the “transformations steering group”, a Church of England body set up by the last Archbishop of Canterbury to “explore the lived experience of women in ordained ministry.”
She said: “We have conversations among that group and we are working towards working with those who are involved in liturgy in the Church of England.
“We are at a very, very preliminary stage in terms of shifting the language of worship. The question of how might we rewrite the worship services of the Church of England in a way that broadens our understanding and perception of God is a really difficult question over which we will wrestle for a number of years to come.”
Women have been ordained by the Church of England since 1994 and the first female bishop, the Rev Libby Lane, was consecrated in January this year.
The Rev Kate Bottley, a vicar in Blyth, Nottinghamshire and a regular guest on Channel 4’s Gogglebox, said that some Church of England clergy have already been quietly removing references to “Him” and “He” wherever possible.
However, former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, who became a Catholic after the Church of England started ordaining women priests, called the move “plain silly” and “the work of a few lunatics”.
Although the Catholic Church holds the view that “God transcends the human distinction between the sexes”, He is still referred to as masculine in all teaching and practice as that is the analogy He uses to reveal Himself in scripture.
Widdecombe said: “God clearly isn’t a She as a She can’t be a father. This is plain silly, unbiblical and ridiculous. I think it’s the work of a few lunatics.”