Politics & Policy

Top Divinity Schools: Use Gender-Neutral Language to Refer to God

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 “have served as a cornerstone of the patriarchy.”

For example: This year’s divinity course catalogue at Vanderbilt tells 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.

Now, that may sound fair, but in many cases, it’s really not up to the professor. For example, if we are talking about the Christian God, every single reference to Him in the Bible uses a masculine pronoun . . . which kind of gives you the vibe that Christians have decided that their god is a dude. The fact is, teaching anything else would be giving inaccurate information — which is what makes Duke’s particular guidelines even more absurd.

According to Heat Street, Duke’s particular divinity school is “geared toward people already working in the Methodist church, taking supplemental weekend or summer classes.” Yes, “Methodist,” as in the Christian religion that has already completely, officially, 100 percent decided that their God is a man. And yet, Duke’s guidelines suggest avoiding gender specific pronouns when discussing Him and suggest using “God” and “Godself” instead.

(Yes — “Godself.”)

Look: The great thing about this country is that your religion can be whatever you want it to be. If, in your eyes, God is a woman or genderfluid or a microwave, then you can totally refer to God as being a woman or genderfluid or a microwave. Literally no one is stopping you. In fact, there is an entire Constitution protecting your right to worship His Holiness Microwave if that’s how you want to live your life. But if you are talking about the God of the Methodist religion, then it’s just plain inaccurate to refer to Him as anything but “Him.” It would be like teaching Hamlet and calling Hamlet “she.”  There is a point where an obsession over political correctness can blind people from basic of facts, and call me archaic, but I really do feel like facts are still the way to go.

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