The 1.7 million member Episcopal Church opposes the death penalty, supports legalized abortion, and ordains both women and homosexuals into office. Now one diocese has voted to ask the denomination’s upcoming July General Convention if they could “when possible, avoid the use of gendered pronouns for God.”
The 88-congregation Washington, D.C. diocese passed the resolution in January with the intent that any upcoming revisions of the denomination’s Book of Common Prayer would use “expansive language for God from the rich sources of feminine, masculine, and non-binary imagery for God found in Scripture and tradition.”
The problem is, there are no rich Scriptural sources of feminine imagery for God; He overwhelmingly chooses to use the masculine pronouns to describe Himself. And that reality is a problem for many in this diocese. As delegate Rev. Linda Calkins shared:
“Many, many women that I have spoken with over my past almost 20 years in ordained ministry have felt that they could not be a part of any church because of the male image of God that is systemic and that is sustained throughout our liturgies. Many of us are waiting and need to hear God in our language, in our words and in our pronouns.”
It’s clear then, that instead of trying to know God as He has revealed Himself, they want to hear from a god made in their own image.
When we see millions of professing Christians running from God, some self-examination would not be out of order. So….are we so different?
To answer that question, consider how we deal with passages of the Bible that we find unpleasant, or difficult to accept, like those on:
- eternal damnation (Rev. 20:10-15)
- rods, and corporal punishment (Prov. 13:24)
- the annihilation of the Canaanites (Joshua 12)
- gender roles (Eph. 5:21-33)
- the Creation account (Gen. 1-2)
- slavery (Eph. 6:5)
- election and reprobation (Rom. 9:11–13)
Do uncomfortable passages inspire us to dig deeper to find out what they reveal about God? Or do we want to ignore them, and ignore what they teach about God so we can go on worshipping God as we would like Him to be?
The answer to that question will reveal the direction we are heading. Either we’re embracing God as He has revealed Himself in His Word, or we are heading down the same path (even if it is quite a distance behind) as the Episcopalian Church.
Of course, God may yet turn them around and there is a small, almost ironic indicator that something is going on behind the scenes. The same Diocese that is pushing for gender-neutral descriptors has also, since 2015, been encouraging their members to tithe ten percent – how very literalistic of them!