Because language related to race, gender, class, and nationality has a particular power to liberate or to marginalize other human beings, our words ought to exhibit the sort of grace-filled sensitivity to human dignity that is part and parcel of the Christian gospel (James 3:1–18).
In particular, the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University believes that language about God and people should mirror these biblical truths: that God created both male and female in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); that God formed male and female into a working partnership to steward all of God’s creation (Genesis 1:28); and that God loves every one equally without respect to race, gender, class, or nationality; yet all are equally in need of God’s forgiveness and equally transformed by God’s grace into new creatures because of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:3–6). The use of nondiscriminatory language substantiates these truths and fosters a community where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
The social practices of Seattle Pacific University’s Wesleyan heritage exemplify these biblical truths. Rooted deep within Wesleyan theology is active participation in the lifting of oppression in any form so as to extend and implement the freedom of the gospel to all whom God has created and seeks to redeem. The record of Wesleyans on behalf of those on the margins is impressive and honorable, and should be furthered by the modern offspring of Wesley in word and deed.
Therefore, it is the policy of the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University to use nondiscriminatory language in our syllabi, publications, and communications. (The grammatical particulars about nondiscriminatory language are spelled out in The Everyday Writer.)
Moreover, when writing and speaking about God, the School of Theology encourages the use of a wide variety of images found in Scripture and the Christian tradition, such as rock, sovereign, light, mother eagle, shepherd, creator, father, and so on. By drawing on the richness of these biblical images, we position ourselves to deepen our understanding of God’s manifold attributes more fully and to help form God’s multiform people into a more inclusive community.