September 9, 2010

God Without Gender

The other day (I think in Neurotheology), someone (I think my professor, but not sure), mentioned that in Islam, it's a sin to refer to God as having a gender, male or female, because it'd be personifying God, kind of in the same category of making an image of God or the Prophet. I don't remember precisely where I heard this, so I can't confirm or deny if it's true, but I thought it was a really cool idea.

And then today, this ended up in my news feed:

The Scottish Episcopal Church has removed all references of gender from the order of service.

So "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" is now "Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier." "Lord," "He," "His" are all out. Direct Biblical quotes remained unchanged, but the rest of the liturgy is now gender-neutral, even replacing "mankind" with "world."

I haven't got much analysis on this other than "This is cool!" In my Presbyterian church we always learned that TECHNICALLY God had no gender, but He was still a Him, and I found the resulting cognitive dissonance troubling, so seeing it addressed made me smile. Plenty of people are Not Happy about this victory of political correctness over tradition, but I think it's kinda nifty.


mr_subjunctive said...

Nice, thought, but isn't the phrase, "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet?"

Spiffy said...

Yeah, point. But the idea is a nice one, isn't it? (Also, I'm reasonably sure Arabic doesn't have a gender-neutral pronoun, so it could be blasphemy for convenience and grammar or something. I should ask the professor who said it about that.)

Spiffy said...

Instead of asking my professor, I asked Wikipedia. It said:

"In Qur'an, Allah is most often referred to with the pronouns Hu or Huwa, and although these are commonly translated as him, they can also be translated gender-neutrally, as it. This is also true of the feminine equivalent, Hiya. Allah is neither male nor female, and is said to transcend gender. It is considered blasphemy for Allah to be placed in a human or animal sexual gender category"

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