For several years now, conservative Christians have been waging a counteroffensive to defend and preserve the use of the gender-specific language in Scripture and liturgy. What I find I ironic is that, in the meantime, I see an increasing number of conservative Christians slipping into the use of unisex euphemisms and circumlocutions in their own speaking and writing.
This doesn’t especially surprise me. Most of us learn our mother tongue through osmosis. Unless you’re a professional writer, you don’t generally give much self-conscious consideration to the idioms you use. As a result, I notice that Christians who vehemently oppose radical feminism and egalitarianism are unconsciously capitulating to unisex speech codes.
The most conspicuous example is the use of plural pronouns with singular nouns. This is an obvious grammatical error in English syntax. For pronouns are supposed to agree in number with the nouns they take.
I’m thinking of sentences like, “A lawyer represents their clients.”
In the past, the sentence would have read, “A lawyer represents his clients.”
But, of course, that’s deemed to be sexist by the social gatekeepers in the media and academia. As a result, this solecism (using plural pronouns with singular nouns) has become ubiquitous.
This is just another example of the silent revolution in American culture. Like unisex showers in college dorms, this was never put up for public debate—much less a national plebiscite. Rather, it represents an unspoken imposition on the general culture. The social gatekeepers are the most effective when they go about their erasure of Christian values in the public square as quietly as possible.
Like body-snatchers who turn unsuspecting men and women into pod people, this campaign is most successful when conducted under conditions of low visibility. Preferably the dead of night. That way it arouses no opposition until the opponents are too few to overcome the social metamorphosis.
One of the problems when Christians allow their own linguistic patterns to be infiltrated by the enemy is that it creates a hiatus between our religious discourse and our ordinary discourse. In Scripture and liturgy we retain gender-specific language, but outside of church we lapse into gender-inclusive language.
The inevitable effect of this hiatus is to make religious discourse increasingly quaint and irrelevant. And that, in turn, raises the pressure to accommodate our religious discourse to the linguistic norms of the general culture.
Now, there are bigger issues in English-speaking Christendom than the generic masculine pronoun. I’m not suggesting that we turn this into a life-and-death cause.
However, Bible-believing Christians do need to become aware of this silent revolution. And Christian institutions should resist it.
Unbelievers are free to use gender-inclusive language. But Christians should retain their own usage. We should retain traditional constructions that reflect Biblical values.