One good reader noticed I'd been gauche, using the male inclusive in the title of the post, "Three cheers for the men of Wisconsin...". So he commented, asking "Did all the women vote for the recall?! Sorry, a bit of snark." To which I responded:
You should congratulate me for maintaining Biblical usage in the face of the whole world. When I was a child, I spoke as a child. My girlfriend (now my wife) carefully instructed me never ever to use the word 'girl,' and being the son of an author and editor, I was careful to appear sufficiently progressive in all other matters. Thus repudiation of the male inclusive was what I did best. When I was a child.
But now I've put away childish things. It's become clear to me that language is a battleground, and thus that anguage is one of the most vital places to confess our faith. So I make a point of using the male inclusive in the face of all the snickers because... I believe Scripture is a better source for our usage and words than the style guides of men who know not God.
"But we know God," you say, "and we believe it's polite to avoid offending others by giving up the male inclusive "brothers," "man," and "mankind."
Really? Polite? As Christians, will we really argue that giving up any concept of male representation--"in Adam we all died" for instance--is polite? Will we really argue that the Holy Spirit was in bondage to His ancient patriarchal culture when He Himself named the race for that male representative, "Adam?" Will we really argue that language is meaningless in confessing our faith and leaving that ancient patriarchal construction behind is part of becoming all things to all people? Will we really cover our cowardice with such high principles?
If Scripture calls it "adultery," we should call it "adultery"--not "having an affair."
If Scripture calls it "shedding innocent blood" and "murder," we should call it "shedding innocent blood" and "murder"--not "having an abortion."
If Scripture calls it "fornication," we should call it "fornication"--not "premarital sex" or "petting" or "hooking up."
If Scripture commands us to address God as "Father," we should not despise this glorious privilege by addressing our prayers solely to "Jesus" and "God."
If Scripture presents the Apostolic preaching of the Cross as calls to "repent" and "believe," we should call men to "repent" and "believe"--not "believe and believe" or "trust God's grace and be graceful."
If Scripture presents the sexual perversion of the Sodomites as "going after strange flesh" and "gross immorality" and "degrading passions" and "unnatural functions" and "indecent acts," we should speak of "Sodom" and "sodomy" and "sodomites" and "going after strange flesh" and "gross immorality" and "degrading passions" and "unnatural functions" and "indecent acts"--not "queer" or "lesbian" or "homosexuality" or "same-sex intimacy" or "gay."
And thus if the Holy Spirit names the race "adam" or "man"; if the Word of God addresses the assembly of believers as "adelphoi" or "brothers"; we should do the same. It is how we confess our faith. Which is to say there are good reasons slaves to Satan hate such usage. It reminds them of God's Order of Creation, and that in that one man, Adam, we all died.
Do I think these Biblical words and constructions should bind us--that we should always use them? No. There are times to use 'gay' and 'affair'; to pray to "God" and to say "trust God's grace and believe." There are times to speak to our "brothers and sisters in Christ."
Maybe just tip our hat to the new constitution to keep the dogs from barking at us all and all the time, you know? Demonstrate that though we're Biblicists and Christians, we're not unaware of the world's ideological bondage and the fear its produced among men. Keep them off balance, you know? Just enough newspeak to let them know we're alive and kicking while a whole lot of Biblespeak to warn them of the coming Judge.
I think growing in godliness usually means bearing more reproach for our faith--not less. But I fear most of us think growing in godliness means making our faith more invisible to the world; doing a better job of fitting in and not causing a fuss. Poor world. Poor us.
So, to your question, I wrote the headline "Three cheers for the men of Wisconsin..." with every one of my facial tics at red alert. I went sleepless last night. I was convulsed by horror in the face of my wicked deed. Then I remembered that life is short and I ought to make some contribution to this sad world.
So now that I got that off my chest, smiling, I move on to less important things...