Sweden is at the forefront of the social justice movement, and not even Christianity is exempt from the progressive push for inclusivity of genders other than male and female and a full embrace of the ‘gender spectrum.’
Ahead of Christmas this year, the Swedish Church in Västerås released an advertisement in the Swedish newspaper, Västerås Tidning, inviting Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Residents of the city were invited to celebrate his birth at the church, which offered mass, and a Christmas crib.
However, the ad referred to Jesus using the Swedish gender-neutral pronoun of “hen,” which is an alternative to “hon” (she), and “han” (he), according to Expressen.
The church’s female vicar, Susann Senter, said that the decision to refer to Jesus using a gender-neutral pronoun was to respect the progressive view that gender is not determined at birth.
“We did not want to decide on the sex of the child right away,” said Senter, who explained that the decision is partly due to the Church’s gender equality program.
“Welcome Jesus! On Christmas Day, December 25, Jesus was born, a long-awaited child. Hen was born when the happy parents Mary and Joseph were traveling,” read the newspaper ad.
It received mixed reactions. The move prompted outrage from local Swedes on social media who said “it feels stupid,” while others supported the progressive message.
Senter told the newspaper that the whole Swedish church in Västerås has an extensive gender equality program, which was recently implemented for its employees, who are provided with two working days per week to discuss equal treatment.
She explained that how we treat each other based on gender has been a conversation topic at the church.
Senter told Expressen that while Jesus Christ is historically a man, her theological interpretation of the figure makes him “beyond man or woman.”
“If I’m a little provocative, most 19th and 20th century depictions of Jesus are quite feminine. He is gentle, has curly hair and is not very masculine in physique,” she said.
The vicar lamented the fact that “hen” is not a historically used pronoun in the Swedish language, and called it a “strain that we always talk about God as ‘he’.
“We cannot change the text in the Bible, but we can change our way of highlighting this,” she said.