By taking care with our language and messaging concerning gender, race, class, age, physical abilities, nationality, theological beliefs, culture, lifestyle, and the other ways that we describe and categorize humans, we affirm and empower all people and we hold as truth that we are all magnificently created and beloved by God.
I try to recognize our limited understandings of God and faith and to expand Christian community. Language has always been a critical part of making this circle wider, because language shapes value and meaning. The words chosen to describe our experiences of the divine and our understandings of gospel messages not only reflect our reality but, in fact, help to create it.
The use of inclusive language, then, furthers the aim to reflect that the full range of people is created in God’s image and in community life, as well as to speak to and about all people in ways that show respect and honor human dignity and worth. It allows for broader frameworks to understand God beyond those based on limited human qualities and theological beliefs.
Inclusive language importantly, and often uncomfortably, also helps to share power, to interrupt the effects of unearned privilege, and to repair the spiritual harm done to those who have excessive and unexamined privilege. In these ways, inclusive language benefits all people as we seek together to become Beloved Community.
In our efforts to include, it is critical to be aware of intersectionality. Any person is more than one single category, such as gender, race, or class. Every person is multidimensional and complex, and all people’s lives and experiences are informed by many factors and social dynamics. An intersectional framework understands both that oppressions are linked and that one person can experience both oppression and privilege at the same time. And intersectionality is explicitly geared toward transformation, coalition building between communities, and working to achieve social justice.
Rev. John Mark Hild
Faith Leaders in Action, Pueblo