Why inclusive language? — Tom Long, USA

Long writes:
‘Take the issue of inclusive language. Why should I be bothered with inclusive language in worship? Some people say that you should use inclusive language because otherwise, feelings will get hurt. That is true but not very persuasive. Others say that you must use inclusive language because kids in school are using it and they might as well learn to do so in church. But that’s just following the drumbeat of secular culture. Still others say you must use inclusive language because it is an issue of justice and ethics, and you are a bad person if you don’t. I don’t want to be a bad person, but I get grumpy if that is my only motivation.

I want to use inclusive language because a day is coming when all people will come from East and West and North and South, and sit down together in the kingdom of God – men, women, children, young, old, red, yellow, black, and white. The conversation at that great banquet is going to be inclusive, and the church is the language school of the reign of God. I want to learn to talk today the way we are going to talk then. I want to equip a community with the vocabulary of the future, because the vocabulary of the present is obsolete.

And I am stammering at it, I really am stammering at it, but every vocabulary word that I acquire liberates me and deepens my participation in the messianic feast.’

‘Taking the Listeners Seriously as the People of God,’ Thomas G. Long, 1997, an essay in The Folly of Preaching: Models and Methods, edited by Michael P. Knowles (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Cambridge UK, 2007) , p. 53