Our Need for Inclusive Language

In Seminary we are required to be mindful of and use inclusive language when talking not only about the world, humankind but especially about God. This is often seen as "liberal" or more often seen as giving into "political correctness" because inclusive language does not allow one form of language dominate. For instance, it is NOT inclusive language to always refer to God as male or a man. Thus in Seminary, we are asked to speak of God as male, female, water, wind, earth, potter, mother, father, etc...

A discussion was provoked in class about the importance of inclusive language about God. Relying on God as male as the dominate tradition has been (at least in Western Christianity) really creates a void for many people and also disenfranchises women. I agree. Then an angle came up which I really liked.

A fellow male student said, "Inclusive language conversations tend to focus on what God is, but inclusive language has been helpful for me because it reminds me of that God is not. When I hear God is man, I think 'God is like me.' When I hear God is female, I think 'God is not like me, God is something else.' Inclusive language reminds me that God is something different than I am."

I wonder if we are protective of our language about God because it makes us feel like we are like God, or that we can control or fully understand God?

Taoism states that the Tao that can be named is not the true Tao. I have always loved this statement about our inability to name and talk about God. As soon as we begin to talk about God we must confess that we are no longer talking about God.