Why Inclusive Language
don't know about you, but I sure do miss some of the old hymns like
"Rise up. O Men of God", "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind", "Faith of
our Fathers", and many others. They were the hymns I sang growing up,
and they were part of the spirituality of my childhood. The problem is
that I just can't sing those songs anymore. They are no more
appropriate for me today than are the racist chants of the Ku Klux Klan, or the
homophobic rhetoric of the Moral Majority.
are unacceptable because exclusive language is sinful. Sexism is as
evil as the bigotry of racism, classism, or ageism. They are unacceptable because those
songs exclude at least half of the population of the world. Women will never be "men of God"
and they should not be made to feel inferior because they are not.
Sexist language in songs or prayers, or any part of worship, is
unacceptable because it says something about God which is not true and
which is unbiblical. God is not a "man", that is obvious, but neither is God exclusively
male. The Bible is filled with feminine images of God which have been
almost entirely ignored. To speak of our experience of God as male is
to miss the God of the Hebrews and Jesus.
language is also unacceptable because it says something about
us as persons which is not true. Sexism cuts us off from our feminine
side as if it were weak or inferior. This is a block to emotional and
spiritual integration and wholeness. Psychologist Carl Jung wrote
quite extensively about the "bothness" of human beings. He contended
that the more fully a person was aware of and had integrated both sides
of ourselves, the closer we draw to the image and likeness of God in
which we were created.
may recall that in Genesis we are told that when God comes to the
creation of humans, the language becomes plural, "Let us make humans in
our image...male and female God created them." It is apparent from this
that both masculinity and femininity were parts of the image and
likeness of God. As we integrate both in ourselves, we draw closer to
that image and likeness which was God's original intention.
Inclusive language is not an issue of gender. It is not a woman's