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God is not a man, the Archbishop of Canterbury says. Neither is God a woman.

Reverend Justin Welby, who married Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, confirmed that the God Christians believe in is beyond human conceptions of gender, despite the fact that God is commonly referred to in the male pronoun He.

Speaking at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, 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.

In September a YouGov survey found that just one per cent of British Christians believe God is female, and 36 per cent believe that God is male. Of the people surveyed, 41 per cent – almost half – believe that god “does not have a human gender at all.”

What Reverend Welby says isn’t a new concept in Christianity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church number 239 laid down by Pope John Paul in 1992 states unequivocally that “God is neither man nor woman: he is God.

Diarmaid MacCulloch, a professor of Christian history told The Times:

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. 

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