CofE not sure how to define ‘woman’

The Church of England does not have an “official definition” of a woman, a senior bishop has stated.

Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes, the Bishop in Europe, explained in response to a written question that “until fairly recently definitions of this kind were thought to be self-evident, as reflected in the marriage liturgy”.

But he claimed the controversial Living in Love and Faith project is exploring “the marriage complexities associated with gender identity and points to the need for additional care and thought to be given in understanding our commonalities and differences as people made in the image of God”.


In September, bishops are expected to discuss whether they will recommend a vote to be put to the Synod next February on changing the Church of England’s teaching on sexuality and gender.

Maya Forstater, Executive Director of women’s group Sex Matters, called the Bishop’s answer “shocking”, saying that “the concepts of male and female did not need to have a formal official definition” because “they are older than human life itself”.

Forstater recently won her case at a new Employment Tribunal which ruled that she been subject to both “direct discrimination” and “victimisation” by her employer, the Centre for Global Development, for defending the reality of biological sex.


Earlier this year, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams claimed that becoming transgender is “a sacred journey of becoming whole” as he called for the Government to cover gender confusion in its ban on conversion therapy.

The letter, also signed by a handful of other church ministers, claimed: “To be trans is to enter a sacred journey of becoming whole: precious, honoured and loved, by yourself, by others and by God.”

At the time, The Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “The Bible is clear that God created us male and female. It is equally clear that sexual activity is exclusively for marriage, which is only between one man and one woman. To reject these truths is not ‘sacred’ but sinful.”

Also see:

Anglican Church in Wales

Church of England ‘adamantly rejects’ assisted suicide

Church of Scotland apologises after gender self-ID backlash

Belief in biological sex upheld by Maya Forstater tribunal

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