Using Inclusive Language in Assignments
Humanity/ a group of human beings – Required
Family– Optional but encouraged
God– Optional. Openness to inclusivity is encouraged at PTS, but this is
acknowledged to be part of a larger theological question.
humankind, humans, human beings, people, persons, everyone, everybody (you can
use alternate words when applicable, such as the Church, household of God,
family of God, Body of Christ, the Body, believers, followers, disciples, etc.)
men, brothers, brethren, brother, sons, son, the fatherless à
She, They, His, Hers, Their, Theirs
When you are giving hypothetical
examples, current practice is to alternate between a female and a male, using
female terms throughout an entire example and then male terms in the entire
next example and so forth.
Firstly, any given
member may have committed a murder.
Secondly, that member may have encouraged or trained another to murder
in the same way. However, this is not
the whole story. The member in question
could have joined voluntarily, meaning he also committed the sin of supporting
the cruel vision of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Or, the member could have been brainwashed, which is partly the fault of
the brainwasher and partly due to her own interest in the scheme. Or, such a member could have been abducted
against her will, which means that culpability for what followed may belong
also to someone further back in the chain of events. Is a prior person responsible for each
further crime committed by the one he abducted, or the one he traumatized, or
the one he trained, and each crime committed by each person who in turn is
abducted, traumatized, or trained by the abducted?
This can be fun when you pair
“she” with a role or action not often associated with feminine gender or vice
Alternately, you can write “he or
she,” “he/she” or “(s)he”:
your professor which format he or she prefers.
your professor which format he/she prefers.
your professor which format (s)he prefers.
Sometimes you can avoid gender by
using other wording:
your professor which format is preferred.
your professor which format is preferable.
your professor which format to use.
Although often used in casual
speech, it is incorrect grammar to write “they,” “their,” or “theirs” when you
mean one person unspecified in gender.
your professor which format they prefer.
are Bible passages that portray God with traditionally masculine attributes and
others that describe God with traditionally feminine attributes.
– you can use G-d or G*d if you like.
This implies that the name of God is not to be pronounced and is beyond
– some people who have painful father-child relationships feel alienated by
this name or image, others like it because God figures as the healthy father
they never had, and others like to think of God as both father and mother.
Reasons for discomfort vary. Be sensitive to your audience if you want to use
“Father, “he,” or “him.” “Father” is
most acceptable if you have a specific Trinitarian reason for its use.
the Son – you can use “he” and “him” since he is a physical man.
– since the word Spirit is feminine in Hebrew and Greek, some people use “she”
and “her” rather than “it” or “he.”
you choose to refer to God as masculine, you may include a footnote to indicate
that you are aware of what you are doing if you like.
can avoid gender for God in various ways:
created the heavens and earth, yet he knows each of us by name. à
created the heavens and earth, yet knows each of us by name.
world reflects God’s glory: his handiwork is visible all around us. à
world reflects God’s glory: the Holy One’s handiwork is visible all around us.
world reflects God’s glory: the handiwork of YHVH is visible all around us.
world reflects God’s glory: this divine handiwork is visible all around us.
gave himself up for humanity. à
Jesus gave himself up for humanity.
gave Jesus himself up for humanity.
gave God’s self up for humanity.
gave Godself up for humanity.
way to use inclusive language is to balance masculine, feminine, and
non-gendered descriptions of God in your writing:
lord, king, shepherd
bear, mother hen, helper, woman in labor who bore Israel in the womb, nursing
fortress, hiding place
you are not familiar with inclusive language, consider reading “Is It Okay to
Call God Mother? Considering the Feminine Face of God” by Paul R. Smith, an
evangelical male Baptist who explains the arguments for people who are
initially uncomfortable with the idea. This is a book assigned in Dr.
Sakenfeld’s course on the Old Testament, Women, and Cultural/Ecclesial
I will use masculine pronouns to
refer to God in this paper, remaining consistent with the Biblical witness (or:
for theological reasons, or give your reason), but I acknowledge that God does
not have a sex.