Over fifty years ago, before the rise of the second wave of feminism, before Betty Friedan got the mystique going, Richard Weaver warned about a kind of improper change of language he called "rhetorical prevarication." This involved imposing a change in language in order to further an ideology. This, he noted, was very different than the normal and almost imperceptible change of word meanings that always happens in time. "Language is a covenant among those who use it," and there are those who intentionally violate the covenant in order to manipulate people according to their agenda. ("Relativism and the Use of Language" in Language Is Sermonic)
Rhetorical prevarication has been one of modern feminism's standard weapons. The charge has been that the traditional generic masculine usage (words like "man," "mankind," "he," "him," or "his") are sexist and must be changed. Of course, this charge is baloney, but in our day tremendous pressure is put upon authors and scholars to conform to the feminist agenda.
In the latest issue of the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Louis Markos courageously says what needs to be said about this agenda and about the Bible translations that are co-opted by it.
The true goal of the gender-neutral agenda is not to reflect existing patterns of speech, writing, and thought, but to so radically alter those patterns that people will, in time, really come to think of the literal translation as unnatural. Even today, gender-neutral usage does not represent a natural evolution in the English language. It is a change that has been manufactured and enforced through academia, the media, and other outlets.
The newest version of the NIV has justified its widespread use of gender-neutral language on the basis of a massive computer survey that gauged the use of gendered language in thousands of books and journals. Since they found in this study a heavy use of gender-neutral language, they assumed that this proved that language had “changed” and that they must therefore use gender-neutral language in their updating of the NIV. But their logic here is faulty. Over the last three decades, increasing pressure has been put upon journalists, teachers, professors, pastors, politicians, and media people to accommodate their writing and speaking to gender-neutral language usage. In many universities (including Christian ones) students are told that they must use gender-neutral language in their essays and papers or risk having their grade dropped. Just so, the loudly touted argument that Intelligent Design (ID) cannot be considered scientific because its results have not been published in peer-reviewed journals skillfully obscures the fact that peer-reviewed journals have tightly closed their evolutionary ranks and refused to publish ID essays, no matter the quality of their research.
After sharing some personal experiences along this line, Markos writes,
I recount these incidents, not to gain sympathy, but to highlight that gender-neutral language does not represent a natural evolution but is the result of an enforced agenda.
Let me say it once more: gender-neutral translations of the Bible do not reflect a natural change in the English language. Many of them seek to promote and help bring about a change that those on the translation board think should be universally accepted. And what that means, plain and simple, is that the Bible is being used to promote an agenda rooted in feminist propaganda and originally meant to obscure (if not eliminate) all essential, God-given distinctions between the sexes. Again, that is not to claim that all proponents of gender-neutral translations believe in that agenda—but the agenda is there nonetheless.
He closes with this question and challenge,
If we will allow the Bible to be so altered as to promote a change in language that is not natural but grew directly out of an anti-biblical agenda, then what will we swallow next?...Let us continue to fight for our language and for those wonderful, essential differences between men and women that God hard wired into us from the beginning.
Thank you, Professor Markos.
Read the whole thing here.
High Country Baptist Church of Colorado Springs