Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What about inclusive language?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

What is meant by "inclusive language"? In this context, it is a movement in the Church to change all language that refers to God as "Father".  It also wants to ensure that any writings that say "brother" be changed to "brother and sister", "men" to "humanity", "mankind" to 'humankind", etc etc etc.  Women, in this paradigm, have been excluded from the Church's liturgical and theological language for centuries and it's time for the Church to adapt to the 21st century.  It is also insensitive to women to refer to God as "Father" and to use masculine pronouns when referring to God, according to this movement.

My opinion: regarding assuring that women are included in "mankind" and "brother"--is this really necessary?  Regarding changing God from "Father" and "He" to a more generic "Creator"--this is absolutely unnecessary, and maybe even heretical!  (Especially some literature that refer to God as Mother! Examples:

I remember going to a women's retreat and the nun who directed it refused to start our prayers with, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit".  Rather, she used, "In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier.".  Eek!  There was even a movement in some circles to baptize some folks using this formula (or a variation), and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith came down hard on this practice and declared these baptisms to be invalid.

Many Catholic publications have been required to revise their writings so that no reference to God as "He" will remain. Instead,they must use "God" rather than the masculine pronoun.  Note how God is never replaced with "He" in this example:

The inability to refer to God in the masculine, and as Father is to deny a truth revealed to us by Jesus himself.  God is indeed our Father.  In the masculine.  This in no way denigrates women.  It is simply a fact that we image God as a loving Father.  From CS Lewis:
Goddesses have, of course, been worshipped: many religions have had priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity.... Since God is in fact not a biological being and has no sex, what can it matter whether we say He or She, Father or Mother, Son or Daughter? Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable. source

Yet this also is not to say that God is male.  (Well, yes, Jesus is a male, but God, in the Godhead, is not male; God has no gender.)

We as a Church simply do not have the authority to change the way God has revealed Himself to us.  As Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft says,
One issue is whether we have the authority to change the names of God used by Christ, the Bible and the church. The traditional defense of masculine imagery for God rests on the premise that the Bible is divine revelation, not culturally relative, negotiable and changeable. source
So, no, I am not a fan of inclusive language. It seems patronizing, awkward and removes the natural elegance of language. I may be able to tolerate it when changes are made horizontally (mankind to humankind, brothers to brothers and sisters), no matter how cumbersome it makes the language. However, I believe it to be wrong when changes are instituted vertically (God as Father to God as Father-Mother; the inability to use the pronoun "He" for God).

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Inclusive Language: Is it Necessary?

Catholics Come Home

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

No comments:

Post a Comment