More Language Matters

Language in the conversation at the intersection of faith and sexuality can be particularly challenging. The challenge comes for a few reasons. First of all, the language seems to change rapidly and it can be hard to keep up. Secondly, language means different things to different people – so what works in one context can be quite alienating in another. Thirdly, in a culture of PC (political correctness) there are different motivations behind our use of language. To unpack that a little more, some people want to be up on the latest language usage just for the sake of being with the times. They might not really think too much about what is behind the particular language they’re using. For others the idea of PC language is inherently problematic – the whole idea is frustrating to them. Sometimes this is because of a true yearning for authenticity in language which a PC environment can be perceived to hinder. Sometimes the frustration simply arises from a selfish laziness that resists language review and the willingness to revise and adopt language that is more suitable for the context.

I have increasingly seen language as one of the unique points of service that New Direction can offer to the Christian community. Not because we have it down pat and perfect – but simply because we are in conversation with a very diverse cross-section of the same-sex attracted and lgbt group of people. We have access to different thoughts, opinions and usage of language as it applies to sexual minorities than most pastors or leaders would encounter. So we condense some of these matters and try to communicate them as clearly and concisely as we can.

Recently I was confronted by some fellow Christians for using what they termed to be the language of secular gay activist groups. I become concerned when this kind of dichotomy is perpetuated. When we begin to make divisions between sacred and secular I believe we get on pretty thin ice. I come from a tradition in which one of our foundational understandings is that every square inch of creation belongs to God. Language is included in this. So there is no language that cannot be claimed as useful in God’s economy.