When you hear the word “men” in a news story, what comes to mind? I picture the male half of the population. I think we all do, because that’s what it means.
It’s the same in a sermon. When we hear the word “men,” most people think "male." But that's not always what the pastor means.
For example, I recently heard a pastor say “God made every man with an eternal purpose.” The intent wasn’t to exclude women, but that’s how it sounded. “God made everyone with an eternal purpose” would have been easy and far more accurate.
Is this being nitpicky? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
This Post Isn’t About Those Debates
Church is the only place in our culture where we still use male pronouns when we’re referring to both genders. And it's hurting our presentation of the gospel.
I know there's a big debate about the use of male pronouns when we refer to God. I also know about the complementarian/egalitarian debate in which well-meaning believers disagree about the role of women in leadership.
This post is not about either of those debates. Maybe later, after I get fitted for a Kevlar suit.
Today’s post is about what should be a very simple issue. When we’re referring to everyone, let’s use language that accurately reflects that intention.
I understand that “man” was used for many centuries to refer to humanity in general. But we don’t live in those centuries any more. People don’t talk like that today.
Can you imagine a news event using a sentence like “300 men died in a plane crash today,” unless the plane was filled only with males? Of course not.
We live in a culture where “men” means “male” everywhere but in church. Even most of the pastors who use such language when they’re preaching, don’t use it in their daily conversation. And I'm not just talking about older, traditionalist pastors, either. I've heard it from hipster pastors preaching from their iPad with untucked V-neck shirts.
Here are eight reasons we need to stop using “men” when we mean everyone:
1. It’s Not Accurate
“Men” means males. “Women” means females. “People” means both genders.
It’s not a political or theological statement to use specific, correct terms.