A few months ago, Rev. Emanuel Cleaver came on a hot spot for ending his prayer at House meeting in the states, with “A-men and A-woman.” Many people immediately criticized his last comment, as “Amen” is not a gendered term. It is a Hebrew word, which means “truly” or “So be it.” He later defended himself that he intended it to be a pun, to recognize the record number of women present at the meeting. But many found it odd that it came from the mouth of a minister. I think this is taking the idea of “inclusion” too far.
The idea of being inclusive has such a positive image that being exclusive almost sounds like a hate crime in modern days. But inclusion and exclusion always go together, like heads and tails of a coin. For example, when we become inclusive of every belief, we automatically become exclusive of having a single belief.
Trying to be more inclusive is a human effort to achieve social harmony. It sounds good on paper, but in reality, it only reaches agreement on an elementary level that prevents meaningful conversation that recognizes the uniqueness of each party involved. Being inclusive itself is not bad. But when we pursue inclusion, we end up getting something else.
What brings ultimate social harmony is the “Gospel”. Gospel says that we are so bad that it required the death of Jesus but so precious that Jesus willingly died for us. Because everyone is equal under the Gospel’s claim, genuine social harmony was possible for early Christians. In the early church, masters, slaves, men and women all ate together in their house church. “Eating” during this time meant “solidarity,” and such radical harmony across different social classes shocked people outside the church. It is because, under the Gospel, we can agree on the fundamental belief about ourselves and others, which allows disagreements over other minor things. Gospel makes an exclusive claim, but it also makes us radically inclusive.
So, Christians need to strive to be “kind” instead of trying too hard to appear inclusive. Kindness is the fruit of the Spirit. Kindness is our response to the weakness and differences we see in others. Genuine Kindness comes from knowing that God is kind to us, even when we disagreed with him about our true condition. It is the Gospel that enables us to be kind to those we disagree with.