In Push for Gender-Neutral Language, Church of Sweden Set to Stop Using ‘He’ and ‘Lord’

By Andrew Friberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The Church of Sweden has requested its clergy to make use of more gender-neutral language when referring to God. The clergy was urged to avoid referring to the deity as “he” or “Lord”.

The said move is one of the many actions that were made by the national Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is currently in the process of updating a 31-year-old handbook, which drafts on the ways that services should be conducted in terms of hymns, language, and other aspects.

The new guidelines will be introduced on the 20th of May during the Christian holiday of Pentecost.

The said church was a former state church that is headquartered in the city of Uppsala, around 37 miles north of the capital. The church has 6.1 million baptised members in a country with a population of 10 million.

The Church is headed by a woman named Archbishop Antje Jackelen. She was ordained as the priest in the Church of Sweden in 1980 and in 1999, she became a Doctor of Theology at the Lund University.

Talking to the TT news agency of Sweden, Jackelen said that the use of more gender-inclusive language had been talked about several decades ago, in as early as 1986.

Jackelen said: “Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human.”

However, the said decision has been met with some criticism.

An associate theology professor at Lund University, Christer Pahlmblad, informed Denmark’s Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper: “It really isn’t smart if the Church of Sweden becomes known as a church that does not respect the common theology heritage.”

Earlier in October, the Church of England published a new advice to its 5,000 schools stating that children should be able to try out “the many cloaks of identity” without the fear of being bullied.

Guidance for the schools regarding homophobic bullying that was first published three years ago now includes biphobic and transphobic bullying.

The advice urges schools to allow the children to accept the difference of all varieties and be supported to accept their own sexual orientation or gender identity and that of others.