Gender Neutralizing God in the ELCA
Using masculine terms for God seems to be a big deal to the ELCA. What I should really say is, they don’t seem to like using masculine terms for God. A couple of years ago Exposing the ELCA reported (see here) on a page published within the ELCA's official website called, “What is the proper use of language in worship?” (see here) On that page, the ELCA says, "The metaphorical use of the term ‘father’ continues to be used in worship, alongside many other biblical metaphors for God. However, because sin can distort even the fundamental relationships of parents to children, the image of a father may be difficult to comprehend for some who have experienced alienation in their relationship to a human father." They then, in an obvious attempt to get you to stop using male terms in reference to God, offer this, “Titles that suggest the activity of God may be used to address God . . .” Moments later they say, “Second-person pronouns, instead of gender specific and third person pronouns, may be used to address God.” (An example of a second-person pronoun is “you.” An example of a third-person pronoun is “he.”)
The ELCA’s webpage then tries to dismiss the maleness of Jesus saying “the humanness of Jesus has always been viewed as more significant than his male gender.” Continuing they state, “Although the use of male pronouns is appropriate when referring to Jesus, care should be taken to find other ways to speak of Jesus that emphasize humanness rather than maleness.”
Please read the page I’m referring to. It seems clear to me that the ELCA has a problem with using male gender terms to refer to God the Father. They are doing everything they can to steer you away from using male terms for God, except for being straight forward with us and saying, “Don’t use them.” With Jesus, it looks to me like the ELCA wants people to de-emphasize the maleness of Jesus.
On that same ELCA page, strangely enough, the ELCA seems to be pretty supportive of calling the Holy Spirit “she.” I quote, “Throughout the history of the church, feminine pronouns have often been employed in reference to the Spirit. Some see this usage as balancing the masculine Father and Son references.”
Just so you know how seriously the ELCA considers the issue of using gender neutral language for God, check out the ELCA magazine Gather. On their “Writer guidelines” page they give a list of “Requirements.” One of the requirements is to “use inclusive language.” They go on to explain “Generally, avoid using pronouns (he, she, his, her) when referring to God, and words for God that are exclusively masculine should be used only rarely (for example, use ruler, not king).” (see here)
4/23/2012 12:17:04 pm
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Former ELCA seminary student and former ELCA member who is fed up with the ELCA's consistent mockery of God's Word.
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