Gender neutral language is overkill

Manpower. Human-power. Salesman. Salesperson. History. Herstory.

Genderless language now has also found its way into the 2011 translation of the New International Version Bible.

According to a March 17 story from the Associated Press, the translation changes phrases such as, “If anyone says, “I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar,” 1 John 4:20 (NIV 1984) to “brother or sister.”

While the translation does not change pronouns in reference to God, it does change them in reference to unspecified people, according to the article. The translation will be released this month but has been debated since November 2010.

The new translation should not be accepted because of the impersonal nature and overkill of gender neutral language.

After the 2005 NIV translation was released, the Southern Baptist Convention heavily criticized both the International Bible Society, which makes the translation, and Zondervan Publishing House for what it called an inaccurate translation of God’s inspired scripture, according to the AP article. LifeWay bookstores, which is associated with the SBC, did not sell the translation.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood also does not support the new text, according to the AP article. It said the translation changes the theological direction and meaning of the text, making it impersonal and sterile rather than accepting and teaching.

But said 95 percent of the text remains the same as the 1984 NIV translation. The translators made word choices such as “they” instead of “he or she” and “them” instead of “him or her” to make the text more readable.

The original translation of words like “brothers” actually translates to mean “brothers or sisters,” but according to the AP article, evangelicals see the text as relating to a more personal aspect or a person’s relationship with God rather than having it be a broad thought or be gender neutral. Supporters of the translation say it would be like translating “parent” as only “father.”

Personally, I don’t feel offended by language that is male-specific. If people are intimidated by gender-specific language, then they are probably missing a much bigger picture.

We live in a society that uses an understood “he” without meaning it as male-dominant but rather as neutral. It is not just done in English either. Spanish uses “hermanos” 8212; the singular “hermano” just means “brother” 8212; in reference to both male and female siblings.

The real issue should be what the Bible is actually saying, not whether it favors an understood pronoun “he.” Is it staying true to the meaning of the texts as originally written?


Why should we change language that was never meant to be changed in the first place?

Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.