I know that I am supposed to be all for inclusivity (and diversity, for that matter), but I’m not. So there you have it! Perhaps, I better explain:
I am actually all for inclusivity if, and when, it is the natural outcome of a prior set of beliefs and behaviours.
Let’s start with beliefs and, Genesis 1 26-28: ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…..so God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.’
Now, if the writer of Genesis were to appear on Just a Minute he / she would surely be a crashing failure. The word image (and this excludes the reference to likeness) is mentioned three times, in relation to humankind, that is to say all of humanity, before the any categorisation into male and female is mentioned. This is staggering stuff.
So our most basic, foundational, grounded belief, taken from our foundational Scripture, is right there in the first chapter of the Bible: all humans are made in the image of God, full stop! Yes, we sin through our behaviour but we are all created of the right stuff; we are all the very image of God. If this is a foundational belief, it must, if really, sincerely, held drive our resulting set of behaviours?
I suggest that our only authentic responses, that is to say responses that reflect the fact we are made in the image of God are love and solidarity – not inclusivity.
Inclusivity has a ring of phoniness about it. Inclusivity, like tolerance, belongs to the realm of political ethics. Love and solidarity don’t see difference; they see similarity. And, this takes us into the realm of Christian ethics. The Trinity isn’t inclusive, it’s an all loving holistic entity where the Father, Son and Spirit stand in solidarity with each other. Each and everyone of our relationships should reflect the relationship within the Trinity.
There are, perhaps, two forms of inclusivity we need to be particularly worried about: contingent inclusivity and political inclusivity.
Contingent inclusivity says, ‘please do join us but your real level of inclusion has got to be based on the unequivocal acceptance of everything we hold to be true.’ Contingent inclusivity allows little or no room for doubt, or error. Contingent inclusivity was much loved by the Scribes and Pharisees as described in Matthew 23.
Political inclusivity obsesses about diversity. It is the agenda of political correctness verified by statistics. Political inclusivity refuses to accept the message of Galatians 3, 28: ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’
If we want a truly inclusive church we need to forget the inclusivity agenda and go back to Genesis 1, 26-28 and learn to walk in love and solidarity with all.
Is this what we desire?