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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422


VERMEULEN, Ockie C.. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2018, vol.74, n.4, pp.1-9. ISSN 2072-8050.

In 2016, I published an article in which I explained the purpose and benefits of using inclusive and expansive language in the Afrikaans Dutch Reformed Church's (DRC) hymns which, to this day, remain notably exclusive in gender references and when addressing God. I hoped that my article would inspire the workgroup responsible for the creation of new Afrikaans hymns to consider the possibilities and advantages of inclusive language. When I submitted a new melody and text to said workgroup earlier this year, the melody was accepted, but the text rejected on grounds that it was seen as a 'forced adaptation of how the Father chooses to reveal himself to us'. This blatant and continuing aversion to incorporate some form of inclusive or expansive language in their hymns, despite my research article I sent them, lead me to investigate this apparent opposition in the DRC context even further. After exploring the comparative stance of the three biggest reformed churches in America with regard to inclusive and expansive language, I come to the conclusion that the DRC's reservation towards inclusive and expansive language cannot be explained on sober theological objections alone. In fact, I show that these reservations are the direct consequence of protecting the interests of the church's ingroup, the heterosexual white male. I identify this ingroup based on the discriminatory way the DRC treated women, non-whites and the LGBTIQ community in the recent past. I conclude that when a church continues to protect and promote the interests of an exclusive ingroup the use of inclusive language in their songs of faith would indeed seem to be 'forced'. The title refers to Mary Daly's statement in 1973: 'If God is male then the male is god.'

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