(Third in a series.)
Let us begin this third in the series by stopping to ask ourselves whether we love God? If the answer is “yes,” let us ask, do we love to listen to Him? Do we love His Word? Do we love His Words in His Word? Do we believe each of His Words is profitable to us?
But maybe more to the point, do we believe and trust that each of His words is profitable to our children who are tempted to think His Words are antiquated? The high school and college students who grew up in our church and don’t like how politically incorrect God’s Word is? Our sons and daughters who are tempted to think Scripture is homophobic and embarrassing? That Scripture contains what could be read as hate speech? That God’s Word is anti-Semitic and racist? That it’s terribly sexist?
Do we trust that God’s Words are still necessary and profitable to all the new believers and sons and daughters who prefer the new Bible products modernized by scholars in order to placate their progressive moral sensibilities?
Maybe we’re going wobbly and find ourselves thinking all this talk of gagging God is over the top? What harm is there changing God’s Words when it’s in order to facilitate people finding it easier to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, to get to know the Bible, and to come to church and become more aware of their greed, selfishness, elder-brotherism, and tribalism?
What good is a Bible that people don’t read?
Good questions, all of them.
Before we turn to answering these questions, let’s rehearse the Words of God that Bible scholars and publishers have deleted from their Bible products, going on to explain their motivation as “accounting for the concerns of the modern audience.” Here are the main ones:
- Ἰουδαῖοι (Greek “Jews”): They have removed (or changed) the word “Jews” in the Gospel of John. This is in response to intense campaigns by influential Jewish leaders such as Irwin Borowski who claim anti-semitism is the fault of the Apostle John who, in his Gospel, attributes the murder of Jesus to the “Jews.” Back in 2000 in an article in Jewish Weekly, Borowski announced, “I see major breakthroughs coming within the next few years [in the removal of] hateful anti-Judaic passages.” His campaign has been successful in changing the text of Scripture so that, where the original Greek was “Ioudaioi” with the direct correspondent “Jews” in the English language, our Bible scholars and publishers have deleted it, replacing it with the word “they” or “the people.” Otherwise they relegate the word by adding the English word ‘leaders,’ so that where the text read “Jews,” it now reads “Jewish leaders.”
- μαλακοὶ (Greek “effeminates”): They have removed the word “soft men” or “effeminates” in 1Corinthians 6:9. This is in response to influential gays and lesbians who say the gay aesthetic, identity, and lifestyle of effeminacy is no sin. These gays and lesbians have infiltrated the church through movements such as the Presbyterian Church in America’s Revoice and the UK Anglicans’ “spiritual friendship” project promoted by Gospel Coalition types. These gays and lesbians promise not to marry or have same-sex intercourse, asking to be accepted as gay men and women in their lifestyles. There are now multiple Bible products used by conservative Christians in which the sin of “soft manishness” or “effeminacy” is no longer mentioned as disqualifying one from the Kingdom of Heaven.
- γραώδεις (Greek “fit only for old women”): They have removed “fit only for old women” from 1Timothy 4:7. This is in response to the Apostle Paul here seeming to be demeaning, not just of women, but older women. So the English Standard Version cleaned it up by deleting it.
- δοῦλος (Greek “slave”): They have removed “slave” across Scripture. This is in response to America’s extreme polarization over race flowing directly into the twenty-first century from the slavery and Civil War which ended it back in the nineteenth century. Over the past forty years, an army of scholars have accused Christians’ Scriptures of promoting racism and slavery—as well as patriarchy and homophobia. Thus Bible scholars have sought to hide or remove anything in Scripture which leaves God and His Word vulnerable to these charges, so that the original word,”slave,” is minced into “bondservant” and similar circumlocutions.
- אָדָם (Hebrew “man”) ἀδελφοὶ (Greek “brothers”): They have removed “man,” “brother,” and thousands of other male inclusives used across the Old and New Testaments. This is in response to feminists who reject the male inclusive and have now largely succeeded in banning this usage formerly so common in the English-speaking world. Feminists have decreed that it is linguistic oppression which inevitably reinforces the father-rule or patriarchy they hate, and they are intensely focussed on annihilating this usage across the world.
In each of the above cases, it’s entirely natural for us moderns to be understanding and sympathetic to Bible scholars and publishers who are gagging God at these places. Who wants the Bible to give moderns an excuse to judge God or His Word as anti-Semitic, homophobic, demeaning of older women, pro-slavery, and sexist? Again, as these Bible scholars and their publishers themselves would put it:
What people really need is to get into a personal relationship with Jesus and get to know the Bible. Who’s going to get to know the Bible if they’re reading some old version that uses a bunch of archaisms and throws up constant roadblocks?
“Just lighten up, okay? Give them a Bible they’ll actually read, you know? Is that such a terrible thing? So a word is changed here or there—big deal.”
The deletions protecting God from charges of sexism are a good case in point.
The argument is that the male inclusive is sexist. That it’s demeaning to women to be included with men by the inclusive “brothers” or “men.” Thus “brothers” is deleted and replaced by “Christian friends” or “siblings;” “adam” is deleted and replaced by “human beings” or “persons.” These and similar deletions of the male inclusive are done thousands of times in these new Bible products.
What’s the problem? Many or most of these deletions have the merit of signalling to women that they are included, and isn’t that important today when we’re repenting of sexism and patriarchy?
Years ago I was in conversation with a brother in our church who had an MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, had taught in a theological college in Africa, and was well aware of all the battles over Scripture’s doctrine of sexuality. In point of fact, he was completely in agreement with Scripture’s doctrine of father-rule.
Speaking with him about the terms “brother” and “brothers” in the New Testament Epistles, I asked him if he thought “siblings” was an accurate substitute for the inclusive “brothers” used for centuries in English Bible translations?
He said “yes.”
Following up, I asked whether, if I was able to demonstrate that an important meaning component was left behind by deleting “brothers” and replacing it with “Christian friends” or “siblings,” would he still think they were good translations?
He responded, “no.”
“Well, consider the male meaning component of ‘brothers,'” I said. “The familial meaning component of ‘brothers’ is removed when we translate it ‘Christian friends.’ In the same way, the male meaning component is removed when we translate it ‘siblings.’ Now do you still think ‘Christian friends’ and ‘brothers’ are faithful to the original text?”
“No,” he said.
It really is that simple.
But right here we’re left with the question whether the male meaning component of “brothers” is insignificant or significant, because if it’s insignificant, maybe it does no harm to lose it.
On the other hand, what if it’s significant?
Having now asked the question, we see that “brothers” is significant because each time women are included in a male inclusive, everyone is reminded that “in Adam all die” (1Corinthians 15:22). That “by the transgression of the one the many died” (Romans 5:15). That “by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one” (Romans 5:17). That “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men” (Romans 5:18). That “through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). That “by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead” (1Corinthians 5:21). And that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1Corinthians 15:22).
God has made males to be our representatives. God ordained that men, not women, are our federal heads.
This is not complicated. Look at the name God gave our race:
He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them adam in the day when they were created. -Genesis 5:2
God named our race, both male and female, “adam” or “man,” and this same name is used over 500 times across the Old Testament. This male inclusive is used hundreds of times in the New Testament, also. “Brother” and “brothers” (“adelphos” and “adelphoi”) as well as the Greek words “aner” and “anthropos.” Together these words and their cognates have a crystal-clear male meaning component inspired by God and used over 1,000 times in the New Testament, and this male meaning component had been translated faithfully into English Bibles for many centuries now.
But our Bible scholars and publishers are ashamed and have relegated or deleted it from their latest Bible versions.
Again, this is not complicated. What we have decided to do is remove the male meaning component because it’s politically incorrect, and it’s politically incorrect because the feminist rebels hate it, and they hate it because they are rebels against the federal headship of Adam as opposed to Eve, man as opposed to woman, that has been decreed by God our Creator.
Each time a male inclusive “adam,” “sons,” or “man” in the Old Testament and “brother,” “men,” or “man” in the New Testament is deleted, Adam’s federal headship is diluted that much more. Each time another male inclusive is deleted, the theological doctrine of the Fall, that God tested our race through the male of the species and not the female of the species (who, in fact, sinned first), is by that deletion once more undercut. And it’s all done because of our shame at God’s Words.
Are we crazy? Do we really think now is the time to hide, dilute, and deny the responsibility God has placed on the male of the species? Do we really think now is the time to deny God’s delegation to the male of the species His authority resident in His eternal Fatherhood? This is what is at stake with the deletions of male inclusives in our Bibles today.
Make no mistake. We’re all ashamed of Jesus and His Words. Ashamed of His maleness and Sonship. Ashamed of His Father’s Fatherhood writ large across the race He Himself named “adam.”
(Third in a series.)