Friday's Question of the Day: What do you think of Gender Inclusive Language

The NIV and the TNIV is about to go the way of the dodo and the KJV-1611. As many will recall, the TNIV has born the brunt of the Evangelical attacks because of the gender inclusive language which it employed.

Fine. Cool. Whatever.

But, in the end the TNIV wasn’t all that bad, as we can actually find the use of gender inclusive language dating to the KJV. Yes, the King James Version used gender inclusive language. Bunch of liberals.

So, what do you think – must biblical translations ONLY use ‘sons’ if both men and women are meant (or do you think that only males will be saved?)? Or, do you think that a moderate level of gender inclusiveness can be employed? Do you think we should shuck the entire concept and just use ‘it’ and ‘them’, etc…?

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93 Replies to “Friday's Question of the Day: What do you think of Gender Inclusive Language”

  1. I am all for gender-inclusive language in biblical translation if it is honest.  I still remain adamant about the “Son of Man” tradition because it refers to a specific title.  Jesus came to save all human beings, not just males. Oh, and I never owned a copy of the TNIV because I am an NRSV-onlyist. 🙂

  2. Did’nt  it Not say in the Bible Not to change any word of it? none of it? never bothered me by saying sons and son of God.. we knew what it meant.. everyone.. wonder what the Bible will be like in 50 years? I don’t have to see it in black and white, I know deep in my heart I am a child of AbbaGod,Most high,and he loves me……

  3. If people (UM’s and PCUSA’ers come to mind) want a gender-neutral paraphrase, there’s always the Message Bible, where, instead of Biblical submission, it’s “wives, be supportive of your husbands”.

  4. I think in many respects, the gender-inclusive issue is blown out of proportion. I never got into the whole controversy, though I consider myself complementarian. I prefer the terminology of “mankind” or “man” when referring to humanity, but that’s because it’ s they way I’ve always heard it. I don’t cringe at reading “humanity” in place of “mankind,” or other such examples. I think it’s perfectly acceptable, in fact even somewhat necessary, to translate terms such as αδελφοι as “brothers and sisters,” as in the NET.

  5. I think we have to differentiate between “gender inclusiveness” and “gender accuracy.”  When Rod says, “I am all for gender-inclusive language in biblical translation if it is honest,” I think he means he’s all for gender accuracy.  “Gender inclusiveness” tends to refer to a social policy, while accuracy is a matter of translation.

  6. The TNIV’s gender inclusivity was an incredibly clumsy search-and-replace job. I’m all for translating anqrop- as “-one,” “person,” “guy,” or even “dude” in context, rather than as “man.” But enough of this sillyness of twisting grammar like a pretzel just to avoid the word “he.”

  7. Joel G..
    I would agree with what you are saying. Myself, as one over 50.. the issue is overblown to me. At funerals lots of people much younger than I am still want the KJV read from Psalm 23, and the Lord’s Prayer etc. And as an Anglican I have seen the wars over the language of The Book Of Common Prayer also.
    Again, the issue has become kind of a battle cry, rather than the reality of the Text. My opinion anyway.
    Fr. R.

  8. I’ve seen the same thing, particularly with Psalm 23.  When it comes to something important, people want (what they think is) “the real thing.”  I think this reaction reflects some people’s belief  that their English translation of the Bible is the Bible.
    (By the way, I’m Joel H.  The “g” is from my blog: GodDidn’tSayThat)

  9. I know I will draw heat here, but I consider the ESV idea of the generic “he”, and also the ‘generic use of “man” as the clearest way to express the contrast within the framework of essentially literal translation.’  Also I agee with our brother Rod, that “Son of Man” is a Chistological Title, even in the OT (looking back from the NT revelation).
    Fr. R.

  10. First of all, the common use of the word “gender” makes my flesh crawl because it’s now used as a synonym for “sex,” rather than correctly used as a grammatical case.

    If a Bible translation uses a more inclusive term in instances where it is clear it should be inclusive, then fine. For example, “brothers” can often mean both “brothers AND sisters” in the NT.

    But you throw the baby out with the bath water when you change male pronouns into neutral ones in the many instances when a passage has a christologial or messianic reference, alludes to the unique aspects of First Century adoption, or refers to the kingship and fatherhood of God, just to name a few examples.

    See Ligon Duncan’s excellent discussion on this topic:

  11. The TNIV’s gender sensitivity was very selective; generic female references were never made inclusive, but generic male references usually were–sometimes even overt male references were. I say usually because they still translated anqrwpoi as ‘men’ in Acts 4:13 and neaniskoi as ‘young men’ in Acts 5:10, even though they translated andres as ‘sisters’ in Acts 1:16!
    More here:

  12. Just remove the pronoun HE when referring to the Spirit of God and call it a day! Leave the Father and the Son of man alone.Children of God and sons of God are both used in the KJV.
    The godly line of  Seth (Gen 6:2 and Job 1:6) may or may not refer to males alone… Yet John 1:12 refers to those who are born again-both male and female. Even the TNIV translators know that.

  13. Joel,
    Yes I have been out since morning, and this blog issue looks very good. Good comments, from level heads and minds. And thanks Deb for “Abba,” a sweet Aramaic word meaning ‘father’. In Levantine Aramaic of NT times it could mean ‘father,’ or ‘the father,’ or ‘my father, and both Chrysostom and Theodoret, who were Syrians by birth, state that children there commonly called their father as Abba. (See, St. Mk. 14:36 / Rom. 8:15 / Gal. 4:6, in the NT)
    Fr. R.

  14. Y, And indeed, it is not correct to speak of the Holy Spirit as a Person apart from His being God Himself. Also the Christian Creeds do not speak of “three persons” as though they were three Gods. Trinitarians believe in “a Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity.” Three in One, and One in Three.
    Fr. R.

  15. Hi Fr. Robert-How are you?
    I know that Trinitarians believe in one God in unity-not three…The One God in three persons.This what IFB believed and read into the scriptures-i believed it too…

  16. Some interesting problems here. I rather like the term children of God since it is found in the Tyndale and KJV Bibles. Our police station has a big banner which says that the those who make peace shall be called the children of God. I don’t think that this verse would be quoted if it said “sons of God.”

  17. No Fr. Rober- sorry about that…
    IFB stands for-Independent fundamental Baptists…That was the denomination of two churches that i attended.
    Yes i believed then,what was taught-concerning God and the Trinity.No i am no longer a Trinitarian…

  18. Sue, what is your point? We live in a fallen and broken world, and the Church is a pilgrim Church and people, and certainly no perfection here! And life is always “interesting problems”, etc.  Read your King James and Tyndale and be at peace in your redemption!
    Fr. R.

  19. Sue, if you want me to at least admit it, yes I am a male, sinful and maybe a male chauvinist somewhat? But that can only go both ways!  Chauvinism is not really just male, but an attitude of dominance. And perhaps one of the problems in the Church “today”, is the dominant spirit and attitude of many women feminist’s? Ya see this can indeed go both ways!  I will not hide this issue either!  Gloves off.
    Fr. R.

  20. But, always I try to manifest the “spirit” of Christ!  But this issue is a battle cry today, and sadly somewhat I must take a side. I will seek to be quiet for the moment however.
    Fr. R.

  21. Fr. Robert
    I do not believe that the term ‘ Godhead ‘ refers to the Father-The Son and the holy Spirit in unity…Or  if better said-the one God in three persons.
    Instead refers to the Father alone… As seen in Romans 1:20 and Acts 17:29. That the fullness of  who and what God is-dwelled in the body of  his Son-speaks of Jesus’ nature/character-his omniscence and his power.As such his Deity.The fullness of his Goodhood (Colossians 2:9)…
    Does this answer?

  22. I will take, what I have given….my personal conviction and conscience over the Holy Scripture on this issue!  I can do no other! Were not playing games here!
    But, I will absent myself too, if Joel feels that I should?  It is his blog!
    Sincerely In Christ,
    Fr. Robert

  23. If you intentionally change a noun just for the sake of making it inclusive, you’re doing injustice to the translation. But if it could truly be translated either way, why not? No harm, no foul.

  24. Hi Fr. Robert…
    No,i was commenting on what was taught in church (the One God in three persons)  One God-three manifestations is not what i believe either.The Spirit is the breath-wind-even the force of  God… Genesis 6:3 and Psalm’s 51:11 … It is not separate from God-nor is it God himself-but comes forth from him.
    Moreover,the Spirit is said to be the Spirit of Christ as well-Romans 8:9,10 and 1 Peter 1:11. So for me,it is not another of the same-kind as the Father and the Son…
    My point is that there are three definitions of the word  ‘ Godhead’ used in scripture… Divine -Divinity and Deity… I do not believe that either use of the word refers to a Trinity…

  25. Y, Again very interesting? But what of the history of the Church? You do not follow it, at least on the Trinity of God? It would appear, that you are using some form of modalism? Correct me if you think I am mis-stating?  And have you read anything by Tertullian? He is the first Western mind to consider this most profound mystery of God triune. For me we simply must deal with the biblical doctrine of God!  And He is historically a Divine Unity, but also in a Divine Triunity!  Let me quote the profound thought here of one Eastern Orthodox theolog, Fr. Serguis Bulgakov:
    “The dogma of consubstaniality, which safeguards the unity of the Holy Trinity, thus remains a sealed book so far as we are concerned – for in a religious sense it has neither assimilated nor unfolded.”
    For me, the Father being the regal – the cause or origin of the Godhead, from whom the Son is begotten eternally and also from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally (St. John 15:26). This is much more than anthropomorphic, but both God’s eternal essence, which is totally transcendent, but reaches us in His “uncreated energies.” Thus the God who is transcendent and the God who touches us are one and the same!  Finally theology proper, is the doctrines of the essential nature of the Godhead, and the doctrine of the Godhead in relation with manhood in the Incarnation! (St. John 1:1 / 1:14 / 1:18 / 15:26)
    Fr. R.

  26. Fr.Robert
    I love to read the church father’s above all others.However,this does not mean that i follow/accept church developed doctrines.When i went to church for the first time, i had no preconceived notions about God.Nor had i read anything saved the bible.I simply read into the scriptures what was taught then…
    When you say Modalism-do mean that in God’s plan of salvation-there is the Father-the Son and the Holy Spirit? If so-then i accept on those terms alone…
    Fr. Robert-For there to be a trinity,there need be a ‘ third ‘ distinct person in unity,Yes?
    1… God is Jesus’ Father yet he was conceived by the Spirit… Matthew 1:18,20 and Luke 1:35.. Compare Hebrews 1:5 with Psalm 2:7
    2… God raised Jesus from the dead-yet he was raised by the Spirit…Romans 8:11 10:9…Compare Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 5:5 with Psalm 2:7…
    So is the Spirit really a third and distinct member of a Trinity? Or is ‘it’ the breath-wind and force that proceeds from God???

  27. Fr. Robert
    I depise the teaching of  Eternal Generation… I rather believe that the Apostle John used the term ‘ Only begotten’ (Monogenes/unique) to show that Jesus-is the only one of  the ‘ family of God ‘ who is the same-kind as the Father-Deity… Jesus himself made the distinction clear-when called God his Father… He never said God is ‘ our ‘ common Father… We are children and so of the family of  God…He (Jesus) is the Son…

  28. Joel,
    Yes you are right. Perhaps Y, it would be easier if we did personal e-mails? I am certainly not going to try to change your mind however. But simply explain what I believe. But if you “despise” eternal generation? It might be best to just leave it?  Dialogue is a rare commodity. I have myself learned to listen, at least on certain issues. The doctrine of God is always a humble endeavor!
    Fr. R.

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