First Person

Being they: God and nonbinary gender

We call God "Father" and "Mother" because children don't say "Parent, Parent." But what will my children call me?

This year Pilgrim Press published my first book. Like any new author, I was overjoyed to be done. But one thing made me especially proud: as far as I know, Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity is the first book published by a major church press to deliberately use gender-neutral pronouns throughout.

My use of the singular they, them, and their triggered some copyediting anxiety at first. I get that. I was an English major, and I was taught always to write “he or she” when I wanted to be gender inclusive. Besides, Glorify is not a book about gender theory. It’s a book calling mainline churches back to the task of cultivating Christian disciples. It seems like an odd place to make a stand for a nonbinary understanding of gender.

But for me, this was personal.