As many hymnals in Catholic Churches throughout the land moved to gender-neutral references to God and man, often in ridiculous machinations, I always sort of thought that this was simply a feminist-driven scourge. And it probably was, for the most part. From the first moment I saw lyrical rewrites that created clumsy text for no reason other than gender-neutrality my reaction was one of disgust.
Some of the worst offenses result in ridiculously clumsy sentences, referencing God. Instead of “Bless the Lord, His mercy extends forever…” (or something like that, I made that up) we now have to deal with “Bless the Lord, God’s mercy extends forever…” Which may not seem horrible, but now add line after line with masculine pronouns getting substituted with “God” and anyone who argues that this is easier to sing, and more linguistically correct, is an idiot. It’s not.
As I was thinking about this blog and fumbling around the internet, I actually found this ridiculous “how-to” site on how to be as inclusive as possible: https://eireinei.com/2013/08/28/5-tips-and-tricks-for-being-gender-inclusive-in-worship/. What a bunch of progressive poppycock.
I occasionally sing and play piano at Church. I am NOT a person who demands nothing but old hymns and pipe organ, with Gregorian Chant and Latin leading the way. I appreciate all that, but unlike folks of a more Traditionalist bent, I am perfectly fine with contemporary hymns and instruments. In my opinion, the key questions are (1) is it done well, (2) does it detract in any way from Mass, or draw attention away from the true point of the Mass, and (3) are you “performing” for your own sake or are you assisting at Mass for the purpose of praising God? These are fair questions to ask, and I think people have a flawed idea that if you play certain instruments or certain songs, it is impossible to answer some or all of the above in the right way. I dismiss that as nonsense, but I can at least see the concern.
But just because I may be more flexible in this area than some of my devout friends, it doesn’t mean I’m a liberal progressivist with respect to Mass. Music style certainly does have the question of sacredness around it, but ultimately it is still about preference. Gender neutrality has an agenda behind it.
As I mentioned, I used to attribute the agenda to an overinflated reaction by feminists who aren’t smart enough to realize that God is, in fact, a Spirit and not a man or a woman. But we follow the lead of Jesus by using the masculine pronoun. I’m unaware of anyone on earth who knows God the Father (gasp! Another masculine term!) than Jesus the Son. If feminists want to get all worked up and be overly sensitive to how Jesus references God then goody for them, but leave that out of my Church. Outside of references to God are masculine references to humankind (mankind, man, men, brothers, etc.). Anyone with a brain should understand that general references in the masculine are, in fact, intended to be gender neutral and encompass all women as well. In fact, I refuse to believe the majority of people “offended” by this non-inclusiveness don’t actually know that. Which means that you’re either stupid or you are purposely finding offense where none intended for reasons of politics or some other agenda. And that has no place in worship.
More diabolical is now the realization that it goes beyond a purely feminist response, and actually goes further to the idea that there should be no such thing as gender, period. For any of us. That it’s all a mindset and transcends our physical nature. This is purely an abandonment of the goodness and purpose of creation itself. This goes beyond mere politics, offense, and some agenda of a misplaced sense of what male/female equality means. It is a direct challenge to God’s entire purpose in the creation of man ç (inclusive). If for no other reason than to ensure that our church is in no way a part of this movement of evil, it is time to abandon gender-neutral hymnals and get back to the original lyrics.
Note: I have no issue with writing well-phrased music lyrics that include feminine references where appropriate (e.g. brothers and sisters). It’s not problematic when it flows well with the music and is natural. My concern and issue is when we are doing this out of some overzealous and incorrect attitude of what it means to be inclusive, especially when it erodes the quality of the song.
And yes, I find the change from “let me walk with my brother” to “let us walk with each other” to be the epitome of stupidity. Had it been written that way to begin with, no issue. But to feel we needed to change it so nobody feels left out is moronic.