5. It’s Lazy
It takes a conscious effort to say “people” if you’ve been saying “men” all your life. You may have to highlight those words in your sermon notes for a while.
But not correcting something that needs correcting because it’s hard is no excuse. Lazy use of language makes the gospel less than clear to the people who need to hear it as clearly as possible.
6. It’s Unintentionally Demeaning to Half the Population
If I was a woman and I constantly heard that “man was made in the image of God” as if women are God’s image once-removed, I’d be ticked off. Even if I fully understood that “men” in that context meant all people.
After all, how hard is it to say “people were made in the image of God,” especially when that’s what we mean?
The church needs everyone engaged in the mission, with their whole heart and full gifting. That’s hard to do when the language we use makes half the population feel less-than.
7. It Reinforces Prejudice
When we use phrases like “When God has a plan, God finds a man,” it does more than cause misunderstandings. Yes, it's a rhyme, but for some men (yes, I mean males) it reinforces their prejudice that men are God’s preferred gender. It's true that “When God has a plan, God finds a person” loses the rhyme, but that’s a small price to pay to stop sowing seeds that reinforce people’s prejudices.
Language matters. It’s powerful. When used incorrectly, it does more than hurt the weak. It can empower bigots, too.
8. It Has No Upside
If there was a single good reason to say “man” when we mean “person,” I’d listen to it. But there isn’t. We’re sticking with an outmoded pattern of speech that has all downside and no upside. Why would we do that?
The gospel message is for all people everywhere. The point of this post isn’t to make this a big issue. It’s the opposite. We need to make this issue disappear entirely.
Using accurate language is Communication 101. And not using language that hurts and confuses people as we communicate the gospel is Ministry 101.
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