God should not be referred to using a gender because ‘our father’ was not male or female, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Most Rev Justin Welby has warned human language is inadequate to describe the Christian deity and that despite the use of words such as ‘king’ and ‘lord’ – he is not male in the human sense.
Other church leaders have called for Christians to avoid labelling God as a ‘he’.
Some campaigns have pointed out in the Bible there are passages where God provides solace ‘as a mother comforts her child’ and have begun referring to God as a ‘her’.
When asked his opinion, the Archbishop told an audience at St Martin-in-theFields in Trafalgar Square that no gender word would be appropriate.
He said: ‘All human language about God is inadequate and to some degree metaphorical.
‘God is not a father in exactly the same way as a human being is a father. God is not male or female. God is not definable.
‘It is extraordinarily important as Christians that we remember that the definitive revelation of who God is was not in words, but in the word of God who we call Jesus Christ. We can’t pin God down.’
A YouGov survey found 41 per cent of British Christians agreed God ‘does not have a human gender’ – but most refer to God as male.
Diarmaid MacCulloch, a professor of Christian history told The Times: ‘The conventional unthinking image of God as male has been around since Christianity first emerged
‘But God is beyond such things. The reason God has been seen as male is simply the patriarchal assumptions of those societies . . . They reached for male terms as the people with power in that Greco-Roman world were male, so we use words like lord and king.
‘The world is now different and we have to show that our view of God is wider than that and not get stuck with archaic terms.’
The Church of England’s guiding ‘articles of religion’ state that God is ‘without body, parts or passions’. The official teaching from the catechism of the Catholic church states: ‘He is neither man nor woman: he is God.’