Numerous modern translations of the Bible are known to use the method of “gender-neutralization” which means the original language, through translation, is essentially “sterilized” of gender pronouns and male-orientated language so as to make it appear that the Word of God is speaking directly to men and women. Many of these translators are sure to mean well, but I have found that the attempt to gender-neutralize the Bible is actually quite impossible. Consider the following verses as though the writer were speaking to women:
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ… Col. 2:11
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision… Eph. 2:11
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Cor. 16:13
Things get really awkward, don’t they? And that is why we don’t gender-neutralize scriptures. But the goal of neutralization has been to make the Bible more palatable and relevant and therefore translators have undertaken to neutralize scripture wherever possible. Original intent and context is no longer relevant.
Not only is this unfaithful to the text and akin to a gross liberalizing of the Scripture, it is not practiced anywhere in academia that I am aware of. Has anyone gender neutralized Homer’s Odyssey or Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching?
The world has attacked the Bible relentlessly because it is such a controversial book. We thought maybe if we make it less controversial, more people will read it. Or at least accept it. The sad irony of such efforts however only communicates to the world that they are right: our Bible is not relevant for today. We emasculated its power. Now there is even less appeal.
Martin Luther once said,
“And let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the [original] languages. The [original] languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored.”
To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools (1524)
The Bible has always been a book with a main, overarching mission to call out and strengthen men more than anyone else. Try reading it under that context and see if I’m not correct.
The fear of the world’s retribution and distaste for our standing firm in the truth of the real Bible is silly. If you think about it, truth cannot be rationally, reasonably, or logically attacked. The nature of truth is eternal. Falsehood and lies are not. If all anyone can do is hiss or spit in response to what you believe is truth, it is a very good sign you are on the right track. Truth always welcomes words of wisdom, dialogue, and debate. But it pierces straight to the soul and the world hates that. So people are afraid of it. Very afraid.
In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the character of Father Christmas is seen giving the children Peter, Susan, and Lucy weapons to fight the White Witch’s army. Father Christmas makes it clear that the girls should not fight. C.S. Lewis conveyed the truth that war was no place for women.
Father Christmas tells Susan, “You must use the bow only in great need, for I do not mean you to fight in the battle.” To Lucy he says, “The dagger is to defend yourself at great need. For you also are not to be in the battle.” Provided protection, not called to fight.
Lucy responds, “I think—I don’t know—but I think I could be brave enough.” To which Father Christmas replies, “That is not the point…Battles are ugly when women fight.”
But when you watch the movie you will hear this from Father Christmas: “I hope you don’t have to use them, ’cause battles are ugly affairs.”
And thus the politically correct Chronicles of Narnia.
This is akin to what has happened with modern English translations of the Bible:
Babylon’s warriors have stopped fighting; they remain in their strongholds. Their strength is exhausted; they have become weaklings. (Jer. 51:30 NIV)
The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting; they remain in their strongholds; their strength has failed; they have become women; (Jer. 51:30 ESV)
And yet who are we to compromise the identity of God and his Word to make Him more acceptable to a world of souls who don’t know their own identity? Gordon Dalbey, one of the fathers of the modern Christian men’s movement (did you know there was a Christian men’s movement?) wrote in his book Fight Like a Man:
The entire “politically correct” movement…is a shame-based religion, complete with its own “inclusive spirituality” and standards by which the “who’s in” and “who’s out” are clearly defined—and by which the Father God and masculinity, by no coincidence, are out. (p.124)
So what sense does it make, really, to preach politically correct sermons, teach politically correct bible studies, and publish politically correct scriptures? None. It’s counter-intuitive. It dulls our one and only weapon, the sword of truth, rendering it all but effective at what it was designed to do. Worst of all, it undermines Father God and masculinity altogether.
No wonder no one wants to read the Bible.
No wonder men don’t want to read it.