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Cleansing the Bible of counter-cultural female roles not only masculinizes history, it also deprives women of a broader picture of how God has and might use women and their gifts in church, home, and society.

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Inclusive language—language hospitable to all people and the whole creation—has perplexed the church in our generation. Some people have radically rewritten hymn texts, some have stubbornly opposed any changes at all, and some have sought a middle ground. 

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It is often suggested that using a gender-accurate translation is giving in to political correctness or feminism. Sometimes the resistance is based simply on personal preference, as in the case of the pastor who told me he was “too attached” to his Bible translation to make the change. Whatever the reason, we need to realize that our language choices have consequences.

If you are still on the fence about giving up your ESV or NIV1984 for a gender-accurate translation, here are some reasons to make the switch.

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When I have heard discussion about love and respect it is often applied as gender specific: a woman needs love, a man needs respect. But it isn’t that cut and dry. Men need to be loved as well, and women need to be respected, too. 

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Peter states what should be common sense: husbands, live with your wives in a considerate and respectful manner. He then goes on to say that if a husband does not do this, his relationship with God will suffer.

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With these points in mind, I’d like to reframe the story around Mary and Martha’s individual callings, and how Jesus directed and nurtured each of their callings.

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Mary and Martha continue to stir up heated dispute in the church, but their contribution to egalitarian arguments appears to have been wrung dry. I propose a new look at the sisters—a look that goes far beyond the tale of a “Mary” trying to fit into a “Martha” world.

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