Inclusive Language Policy

Wherever possible, the publications on this site use inclusive or gender-neutral language in regards to human beings.  It is usually clear both in the original languages and in the context of the various biblical texts when the intent is to include both men and women, and I have attempted to convey that intent whenever applicable.

The publications on this site, however, do not attempt to use inclusive or gender-neutral language in regards to God.  God is neither male nor female, but the English language does not transcend gender as easily as God does. I recognize that the current trend is to avoid using gender-specific pronouns for God, but in order to do that one must resort to frequent uses of passive language, repeated uses of the proper name in lieu of pronouns, or create new, God-specific words (such as Godself). I find all of these alternatives to be more problematic than the use of male pronouns in reference to God for the following reasons:

  • God is very active in our lives, and using passive language understates that activity and removes God from the work he does.
  • Reusing ‘God’ or ‘the Lord’ rather than employing pronouns becomes cumbersome and distracting. For example, John 3:16 would read this way: “For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes in God’s Son may not perish, but may have eternal life.”  The first three verses of the 23rd Psalm would read: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  The Lord makes me lie down in in green pastures; the Lord restores my soul.  The Lord leads me in right paths for the Lord’s name’s sake.”
  • Jesus is God incarnate, God made flesh, born into the world for the purpose of bridging the distance between humanity and divinity, and giving us a way to relate to God personally. God is supposed to stand in solidarity with humanity, but how can we stand in solidarity with an entity that we can’t even share a pronoun with?
  • Finally, we understand that any noun, adjective, or verb we use to describe God falls short, and provides a very limited, incomplete, and even misleading picture of who God is. I don’t understand why we expect more of our pronouns than we do any other words.

So please understand that the use of male pronouns in relation to God is not a statement about the maleness of God, but rather an acknowledgement of the limits of the English language.

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