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Ann Widdecombe criticises the belief that God is female

Wed 19 Sep 2018
By Cara Bentley

Former MP Ann Widdecombe has criticised the idea that God could be female, after a bishop said calling God 'He' puts people off church.

Widdecombe, who is a Catholic, was asked by Piers Morgan on ITV's Good Morning Britain whether calling God 'He' was offensive to some.

She answered: "I don't think it's remotely offensive.

"In fact, I have never heard such nonsense throughout the entire New Testament.

"Christ is a 'He' and Christ refers to God as the father.

But her main complaint was about the claim that calling God male would put people off Christianity, as the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Rev Rachel Treweek suggested in the Sunday Times at the weekend.

The former Conservative politician said: "What really worries me is the sheer superficiality of this.

"Because the whole objection to calling God 'He' is apparently that it puts people off Christianity.

"If you are not going to be won over by the message of redemption and forgiveness, you're not going to be won over by somebody saying 'Oh look God is a she'. Come on."

She was in debate with Rae Duke, a religious and ethics commentator who made the point that New Testament writer Paul says 'there is no male and female for you are all one in Christ' in Galatians 3:28.

Duke argued that 'Father' is only used so that Jesus' contemporary audience could understand his character in analogies that would work.

She said: "Because, at the time, that had cultural relevance.

"If you think about the prodigal son, it wouldn't have worked for that parable to have been a mother because a mother would never have owned property to have given it away as an inheritance to her child.

However, Duke added that God is "beyond any gender".

The discussion over God and gender returned after a YouGov poll found 41 per cent of all Christians think God does not have a human gender identity and Christian women are more likely to think of him as male than men are.

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