No, this is not a joke. The divinity schools at Duke and Vanderbilt Universities have instructed their professors to start using more “inclusive” language when referring to God because the masculine pronouns, title and imagery “have served as a cornerstone of the patriarchy.”
For example, Vanderbilt’s 2016-2017 divinity course catalogue instructs obliging professors to give “consistent attention to the use of inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine,” because the school “commits continuously and explicitly to include gender as an analyzed category and to mitigate sexism.”
“It is up to the individual professor’s interpretation for their classes and is suggestive rather than mandatory,” the associate dean for academic affairs at Vanderbilt’s divinity school, Melissa Snarr, said in an e-mail to Heat Street.
Snarr also said that this ridiculous policy actually dates back to 1999. The document recommended “exploration of fresh language for God.”
Duke’s divinity school has a more detailed set of “guidelines for inclusive language”, however it applies to fewer of its students.
Obviously this is talking about the Christian God of the Bible here. Every reference to Him in the Bible uses a masculine pronoun which makes it abundantly clear that God is male, not female.
And yet, Duke’s guidelines suggest avoiding gender specific pronouns when discussing Him and suggest using “God” and “Godself” instead.
(Yes — “Godself.”)
The Duke guidelines also instruct professors to forgo gendered metaphors for God. For instance, a professor might say “God is a parent to us all” instead of “a father ” or… “God knew Godself to be great.”
Another trick in the books is to mix gender in metaphors. So, a professor could say, for example, “God is the father who welcomes his son, but she is also the woman searching for the lost coin.”
“Referring to God in gender-neutral language can sound clumsy,” the Duke guidelines say, “but this is largely due to the fact that we are in a transitional period with our use of language. Imagination, patience, and diligence are required in order to use language that expands and enriches our understanding of God.”
Duke’s guidelines offers these suggestions “as a beginning point for developing a more inclusive language about God.”
The sad reality is that more and more Bible colleges and churches are selling out to this type of compromise in many core areas of the Christian faith.
Other prominent universities, who may not have set in motion radical moves like Duke and Vanderbilt have, have at least wrestled with how inclusive language policies can be integrated in to their divinity programs.
Why should that even be something for consideration?
Thankfully, there are the faithful few who are standing firm on Biblical teachings of the concept of distinct gender roles and patriarchy as a Biblical concept.
However there are others who are not so sure of where they stand. For example, the editors of the Harvard Theological Review wrote that “it is not always appropriate to employ inclusive language when referring to God or divine beings.”
I don’t think it’s ever right to employ “inclusive” language anywhere. The Bible makes it very clear that God has created and ordained two very separate, distinct gender roles. While equal in terms of worth, both have very different purposes. That should not be seen as somehow “non inclusive,” or “sexist” but rather a beautiful manifestation of the divine wisdom, thoughtfulness and purposefulness of God.
“Gender inclusive” language is also an issue in modern Bible translations where contemporary cultural pressures distort not only the wording, but also the meaning, of the original text of Scripture.
The bottom line is that “gender inclusive” language obscures the significance of man’s clearly defined role in the human race. This is something that the cultural Marxists and feminists are seeking to undermine and sadly churches, and Bible colleges are selling out to this compromise.
Language may change and culture may change but the word of God, the ordinances of God and the concept of who God is, never ever changes. Gender neutral pronouns may be politically correct, but they’re certainly not scripturally correct. And for any so-called Christian Bible school, to use PC language is a disgrace to both the Christian faith and a show of despite to that which God has divinely ordained.
The culture around us cannot and should not influence the Christian faith. Truth, a solid – not fluid or transitory – basis for what is morally correct and what is not, dictates that.