A multitude of Bible translations exists, each with their own interpretation of what the biblical authors "felt" or "thought" was most important. Therefore, we must be diligent, so that when we discover a bias that has changed the meaning from the Greek word so that it implicates something other than the intent of the original author, we then perk up our ears to discover the truth.
Recently, a friend asked me an unexpected question. “Do you identify first as a Christian or as a feminist?” I was surprised by but not unprepared for her question. I’d considered it before, and the answer is complicated. Stick with me here.
I know that lack of sex and consent education harmed my husband’s and my sex life in the early years of our marriage. But as I look back, I realize that’s only one side of the coin. The other was biblical illiteracy.
When translators choose to use “whore” throughout Ezekiel 16, they let readers think it’s okay to use words with inescapably derogatory connotations. And the true focus of the passage—apostasy—gets lost.
We are more than our bodies. We are more than what we do or don't physically "give away." We are not well-oiled machines, defined by words like "malfunction," "deterioration," and "market value." We are complex and our value is not rooted in whether we do or do not retain our virginity.
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.
I was raised in something of a theological echo chamber where my complementarian convictions went undisputed. All diligent Bible readers would obviously conclude that men were to lead, and even more obviously, that women were not to be pastors. What could be simpler?
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.