Many Women Are Pastors But Our Language Still Excludes Them

“Words of encouragement, gift cards, free babysitting services, and cash donations are all great ways to let your pastor know you appreciate his hard work.”

A regular columnist for the regional newspaper The Carillon used that line this week to exhort church communities to treat their pastors with more respect and appreciation.  I agree with the columnist when he says the  job of the clergy is demanding and many congregants are very hard on their pastors. 

Interestingly an article in Christianity Today points out that church goers seem to save their harshest judgements for female pastors.  Yet the Carillon columnist’s use of a male pronoun effectively excluded them.  I checked to see if elsewhere in the column the male writer had used a female pronoun to describe a pastor to balance things out. He hadn’t.  

Minerva Caracano United Methodist Bishop

United Methodist Church Bishop Minerva Caracano

Language is a subtle but powerful thing.  Probably without even realizing what he had done the columnist’s use of that little pronoun his excluded an ever-growing sector of the clergy.  

Being a pastor can be tough. It wouldn’t be for me.   Kudos to both the women and men who dedicate themselves to the profession and care for and inspire their congregants in positive and hopeful ways.  

Other posts……..

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2 Comments

Filed under Religion

2 responses to “Many Women Are Pastors But Our Language Still Excludes Them

  1. John LeMond

    Marylou, as you know, traditional Chinese pronouns make no gender distinctions. However, over the past 40-50 years, in response to the feminist movement, new characters have developed that allow for female specificity: 妳 (you, feminine, singular), 她 (she), 妳們 (you, feminine, plural), 她們 (they, feminine). The spoken Chinese sounds have not changed; the distinctions are apparent only in written Chinese. It would seem the non-gender specific structure of traditional Chinese would be ideal for dealing with the problem you raise in your blog. But Chinese feminists have decided the creation of gender distinctions is indeed necessary. It’s interesting the same social movement has engendered such different approaches.

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    • It is so interesting to see how gender references change and evolve. I have two friends whose children have requested they refer to them as ‘they’ rather than using any gender pronoun. Our larger church body is working on a new hymnal and there is a discussion about whether all references to people should be gender neutral even in older hymns that would need the words changed. Should all references to God be gender neutral? Sometimes I wonder if in the future anyone reads what I am writing in 2017 they will laugh at the archaic way I use pronouns. Hope you and Barb are well. I know we keep saying this but a trip to Florida is still talked about frequently and we need to make it happen. MaryLou

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