The Gender-neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Words
Instead of letting the language change naturally, as the speakers feel the need for new forms, those who are pushing political correctness are trying to impose change on language from the outside. The politically correct language movement attempts to speed up and control the direction of language change. It is a conscious attempt to mold the language into the form that certain people think it should take rather than let it take its normal course. From a theoretical linguistic point of view such an attempt would be doomed to failure if it weren't for the fact that those who are controlling the movement have managed to give us a guilty conscience on the subject. We have been made to feel that somehow we are being insensitive to the feelings of various groups if we say the wrong thing, and so we try to follow the dictates of the "language police" as Poythress and Grudem have termed them. This has resulted in a number of words being replaced by other, "more acceptable" words, not through a natural process of change, but because of outside pressure to do so. Poythress and Grudem show a clear understanding of the basic principles of language change, as outlined above, and have applied them to the subject of Bible translation with great sensitivity to the holiness of the task at hand. They clearly recognize that language does change, and that Bible translations must be revised from time to time to keep up with these changes. On the other hand, they also recognize that there are reasons not to jump the gun. They present statistics (Chapter 2) that show that in both 1996 and 1999 23.5% of Bibles purchased in the United States were the King James Version written in 400 year old language! Not everyone is clamoring for a Bible in the most up-to-date language. Some people like the archaic flavor of the language of the King James Version; they find it beautiful; they trust it. On the other hand, modern language translations are also clearly needed since people want to be sure they understand what the Bible says and they don't want to have to struggle to follow the language. Where the adherents of politically correct Bible translations go wrong, however, is that they are rushing to judgment.
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