Even God is not safe from gender-inclusive language in this era of hyper-political correctness. Two of the nation’s top divinity schools are urging professors to strip away the male pronouns when referring to God and aim for more of an “exploration of fresh language for God.”
HeatStreet discovered that in the 2016-2017 Vanderbilt catalog, the divinity school has decided to “continuously and explicitly” use “inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine” as a means “to mitigate sexism.”
This isn’t necessarily a new concept as these guidelines surfaced in 1999, according to divinity school Dean Melissa Snarr. The older document stressed that every name for God wasn’t always gendered and stated “masculine titles, pronouns, and imagery for God have served as a cornerstone for the patriarchy.”
It’s reported that Vanderbilt isn’t making this change a requirement and Snarr says, “It is up to the individual professor’s interpretation for their classes and is suggestive rather than mandatory.”
Duke’s divinity school guidelines are similar, calling for “developing a more inclusive language about God” and avoiding masculine pronouns. “God” or “Godself” will suffice.
Instead of saying “God the father,” a professor at Duke is encouraged to say, “God the parent.” Another example: “God is the father who welcomes his son, but she is also the woman searching for the lost coin.”
Duke’s guidelines admit the gender-neutral language “can sound clumsy,” but adds that it’s “largely due to the fact that we are in a transitional period with our use of language.” In due time, Duke hopes it will become the norm: “Imagination, patience, and diligence are required in order to use language that expands and enriches our understanding of God.”