How do you define ‘inclusivity’ and ‘exclusivity’?

In our multi-view society, everyone has an opinion. This could be a good thing or a bad thing.  I like it when people have the ability to voice their thoughts and understandings of the world. In fact, I give people the space to do so. The challenge arises, however, when one opinion dominates another. The two words that surface are ‘inclusivity’ and ‘exclusivity.’  For a moment, it seems these two terms are completely opposite of one another, but when they are placed in a particular situation, the outcome can be quite complicated.

How do you define 'inclusivity' and 'exclusivity'

Let me give you the definitions:

Inclusivity1 – the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc…

Exclusivity2 – not admitting of something else; restriction to a particular person, group, or area.

Even after reading the definitions, you can see pretty quickly that both concepts affect each other.  In fact, the very definition of ‘inclusivity’ uses the phrase ‘not excluding’ to describe its basic nature.

Here’s where it becomes challenging…

Traditionally, when views were shared and opinions were voiced, our society would often (unofficially) deem one view as superior over another. It’s not always intentional; rather, simply the democratic influence of our culture.  If most people felt a certain way, then that became the dominating voice.

Now, there seems to be a collision of what is inclusive and exclusive. It makes little difference, how many people feel a certain way, as long as we are as inclusive as possible. Perhaps our new (unofficial) superior opinion is that we need to be inclusive at all times.

The more inclusive we become, however, the more we find ourselves in trouble. While one view becomes inclusive, another becomes exclusive – even to the point of excluding someone in an effort to be inclusive.  In other words, if a person believes something different than we do, we may, in the name of inclusion, actually exclude those people (along with their differing thoughts) to protect the idea of inclusion.

Being inclusive doesn’t push away different thoughts, ideas, and opinions. On the contrary, being inclusive includes different opinions in the same room.  Does that mean all opinions are ‘accepted?’ That’s a tough question, and would depend on your definition of ‘accepted.’  But being truly inclusive certainly means allowing all to belong in the same room.

(By the way, many groups (Christians included) have been the ones both excluding, and including, others throughout the course of history.)

In our culture today, how do we navigate this process of inclusion versus exclusion?

Here are some talking points/questions…

  • Can Christians (or other religions) practice inclusion without forfeiting their beliefs?
  • Do differing opinions and views constitute automatic exclusion, or can everyone be ‘in the same room’?
  • Do the beliefs and/or opinions of a group impact your decision to engage in a project with them?
    • EXAMPLE: Does Samaritan’s Purse’s statement of belief stop you from participating in Operation Christmas Child; even though you agree with the actual project?

I would love to hear from you! This post is designed for your conversation, but make sure to keep all comments respectful. As always, I reserve the right to delete rude or inappropriate comments.

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Andrew lives in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and two children (Rae and Pierson), where he is the Lead Pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church. He is a graduate of both Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.