For centuries Bible readers understood that the English word man is both a generic and specific term. It can mean a male in contrast to a female; but it can also mean mankind, or, human beings in general—both male and female. The women’s liberation movement and the unisex philosophy of the 1970s and the 1980s created a prejudiced concept of the word man. The feminist movement in politics and culture affected theology and Bible translators followed suit. 

In 1990 the preface to the New Revised Standard Version complained about “the danger of linguistic sexism arising from the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender.” The NRSV also said its goal was that masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as possible. 

Five years later, Oxford University Press released “The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version.” The Introduction says it was based on the NRSV. It sought to “replace or rephrase all gender-specific language not referring to particular historical individuals, all pejorative references to race, color, or religion, and all identifications of persons by their physical disability alone, by means of paraphrase, alternative renderings, and other acceptable means of conforming the language of the work to an inclusive idea.” 

The Introduction says the translators removed masculine pronouns like he, him, his. It removed the word “Father” for God and substituted the words God our “Father-Mother.” It removed “Son of God” for Jesus and put “Child of God.” It replaced “the Son of Man” with “The Human One.”

In 2001, Zondervan released a more gender-neutral edition of the NIV called Today’s New International Version, now known simply as the NIV.  The translation committee noted the “many diverse and complex cultural forces” which “continue to bring about subtle shifts in the meanings and/or connotations of even old, well-established words, and phrases.” As a result, these translators aimed at “the elimination of most instances of the generic use of masculine nouns and pronouns.” He, him, and his were replaced with they, them, and theirs.

It’s interesting, however, that these gender-neutral versions don’t follow their policy in I Peter 5:8. That verse says the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Is it “linguistic sexism” to refer to the devil as “he” rather than “she”? But many of those translations still use the masculine pronoun to refer to the devil.    

As the early years of this century progressed, political correctness, ecumenical theology, and homosexual/transgender ideology have led to further disregard for what the Bible says. The only thing that matters now is how people take the Bible based on how they feel. 

This is blatant twisting of the Scriptures. God warned, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it” (Deut. 4:2). At the end of the Bible the apostle John warned, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). Satan caused a world of trouble when he added one word to what God said (Gen. 3:4). How can people today think they can escape the judgment of God when they pervert His Word?

-Kerry Duke