By Michal Ortner
Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester, is the first female bishop to sit amongst the House of Lords in England. According to Treweek, God should not be given a gender. During her October 26 inauguration into the House of Lords, she said, “God is not to be seen as male. God is God.”
“In the creation narratives, we’re told that God created human beings in God’s likeness, and then it goes on to talk about male and female. If I am made in the image of God, then God is not to be seen as male. God is God,” Treweek stated
The writ of summons that was sent to Treweek from the House of Lords caused a little concern for her when it addressed her as “Right Reverend Father in God.” She asked that the title be amended and written as “Right Reverend Bishop in God.”
“There may be women who’d be happy with ‘right reverend mother in God’, but that doesn’t sit comfortably with me,” she said.
“There’s something about the whole connotation of ‘mother’ that has a sense of dependency for me. It’s not how I want to be looked at. I see myself as a leader, as leading from among people,” she added.
Treweek is a firm believer in the power of pronouns and says that they are a shaping force that should be used carefully.
“I am not in the business of wanting to offend anyone, but I do want to gently challenge people,” she said, adding that it is even difficult for herself to refer to God as God rather than as a male at times.
“Sometimes I lapse, but I try not to,” the bishop told the “Observer” concerning the usage of “he” and “she.”
She says that losing the gender specific pronouns in the religious setting can be seen as “threatening” to some people.
When asked if she considers herself a feminist, Treweek explained, “It’s a word that’s heavily loaded. If it means I believe that men and women were created by God as equal but different, then yes I’m a feminist. But if it means women wanting to be men – and sometimes that’s a slight feeling of being loud and domineering – then I would reject that.”
Treweek is 1 of 26 Lord’s Spiritual in the Parliament. She was introduced as the “Right Reverend Bishop in God” by Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury and Richard Chartres, the bishop of London.