Episcopal Book of Prayers May Have Gender-Neutral Language…in 2030

God’s language cannot be ‘only’ male.

Officials of the Episcopal Church will consider whether the Book of Common Prayer will need to be revised during its 79th General Convention. The revision, if done, will set a clear message of God not having any gender. The last revisionary exercise was done in 1979. The principal focus of the debate is whether the gender-neutral language should be added. The convention will be spread over eight days.

When it came to God, the church has always referred to the Supreme Being in masculine terms like King, Him, and Father. A few other terms were also used, all of them invariably male. This is as Jesus Christ, in the New Testament, told his disciples to use male pronouns while praying. Other issues to be discussed at the convention include new gender identity adoption and same-sex marriage.

If all resolutions get passed, the new revisions will not be in the Christian Holy Book until 2030. There is yet another competing resolution: canceling the updating of the Book of Prayer. The latter derives its origin from the first Anglican book of prayer published in 1549. It instead asks the church to spend the subsequent three years on studying the current version of the prayer book.

The Reverend Wil Gafney, who sits on a committee which recommends updates to the text read in every congregation called by the Episcopal church, said changing text to mirror a genderless God would be a boost to women's equality. Reverend Gaffney is a professor at the Texas-based Brite Divinity School. She teaches the Hebrew Bible. In a media interview, she admitted to changing the words written in the Book of Common Prayer from "King" to "Creator" and substituting "He" with "She." It is to be noted that Episcopal priests are not permitted to make changes to the language.

Reverend Gaffney has her detractors. One of them is Bishop Jeffrey Lee of Chicago. According to Lee, the issue of book revision to mirror gender-neutral terms makes for an interesting discussion. He spoke in an interview to the media about the #MeToo movement and its influence on the church's internal struggles. Lee pointed out that if God's languages are solely male, then it results in projecting an incomplete image of God. He added that God cannot be defined and is larger than what the human consciousness can think of.


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