Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Invasion of the Bible-snatchers

Egalitarians and feminists have lobbied so long and hard for inclusive language Bibles. And the publishing houses, ever on the lookout for a new market niche, have pandered to their incessant clamoring and covert stratagems.

But all this looks so very last-week. When the church follows the world, she tags along at the back of the line. In the meantime, the parade as veered off in a new direction as Ivy League universities that are busily desexing all of their official paperwork lest they offend and exclude their transgender students with gender specific pronouns.

Suppose, for discussion purposes, that we accept all their arguments for language inclusive versions of Scripture. And suppose that we unplug those arguments from the feminist outlet, and plug them into the transgender outlet.

Suddenly, every argument hitherto invoked in defense of gender inclusive language becomes an argument against gender inclusive language. For, from a transgender perspective, gender is socially constructed and imposed by oppressive social structures. A inclusive language version that assigns gender according to a binary, male/female distribution pattern, as though there were only two genders, is just as sexist as a version which employs the generic male nouns and pronouns—for it systematically excludes all those individuals who cannot be classified according to traditional categories of male and female.

Hence, versions like the NRSV and NIVI are exclusive, insensitive and intolerant of transgender diversity. Indeed, they should be banned as a form of hate speech and defamatory speech, for they implicitly incite violence against the transgender community. Versions like the NRSV and NIVI, far from being progressive and empowering, are hopelessly retrograde and behind the curve.

The same, of course, holds true for feminist theology in general. To recast the Divine with feminine names and metaphors is just as bad, from a transgender perspective, as the old patriarchal usages.

1 comment:

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