“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” —John 3:16 NRSV
Why Not Capitalize the Godly He?*
1. Because pronouns for God are not capitalized in the Bible or standard stylebooks like AP and the Chicago Manual.
2. Because pronouns for God are not as clear as names for God.
I once asked a group of about 50 colleagues, “When someone signs a letter, ‘In His Service,’ who are they talking about?” I was surprised to learn most thought this meant “In God’s Service,” not “In Christ’s Service.”
Using names for God instead of pronouns is especially important when writing something for reading aloud, for example, a devotion. Listeners cannot hear the capitalization or scan back to determine the subject of the sentence.
If it is necessary to capitalize gendered pronouns to make it clear the reference is God, rewrite.
3. For some, capitalizing pronouns for God is a sign of piety and respect. For others, this seems as antiquated and stodgy as using thee and thou.
While readers are unlikely to notice lowercase pronouns for God, capitalized pronouns call attention to themselves. Thus, a capitalized He runs a greater risk of a negative reaction.
* Many people, myself included, prefer not to limit God to gendered pronouns–he or she. Capitalizing pronouns for God emhasizes the limits of the English language and a too-small image of God. This post, however, is an appeal to the faithful for whom God is, and always will be, a he. It is a case for lowercase.