Take care with language

2 Oct 2022 by Rev Dr John Squires in: Letters, Thoughts, News

Take care with language

From Rev Dr John Squires
Presbytery Minister - Wellbeing

Language is important. It shapes and defines the relationships we have with each other and with God. We use language to express feelings, convey information and inspire action. The meaning of words is constantly changing as are the ways in which they are used. Sometimes new words or expressions are necessary.

Whenever we use words, we would do well to choose the words we use in a way that considers the audience and communicates in a way which doesn’t alienate part of the community. Careful language is precise. It treats people fairly and with respect, recognising their diversity, dignity and status. It enables us in faith communities to imagine an image of God in a variety of ways.

Especially, when we take care with the words that we use, we can affirm cultural and racial differences in sensitive ways. We can avoid slurs and stereotypes. Careless language regarding sex/gender is a form of discrimination. Limiting images of God limits our understanding.

The Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church in Western Australia (which Elizabeth and I used to belong to) has produced a very useful guide to careful, inclusive language. You can download it from


I have reflected further on the importance of language in our hymns, prayers, and worship at https://johntsquires.com/2022/05/18/what-language-shall-we-use/