Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Inclusive Language: Motivations versus Effects

In my previous post, I wrote about how inclusive language serves a revolutionary purpose by cutting us off from our own cultural traditions insofar as it de-legitimizes all pre-1960's thought, ritual, literature, theology and philosophy as "sexist," "patriarchal" and "exclusive." This makes us ripe for social engineering and revolution.

Of course, many well-intentioned Christians do not recognize the revolutionary purpose of the push for "inclusive language" any more than they see any connection between the Marxist influence on second wave feminism (Frieden, Steinem, et. al.) and the sexual revolution. Many Christians understand the emphasis on "inclusive language" to be a form of chivalry or politeness or civility. Christian men who have been well brought up often adopt a reflexively protective stance toward women and bend over backwards to want to extend courtesy and avoid offending women, who they view as equals and want to avoid excluding or hurting in any way. I understand this motivation and feel it keenly myself.

This impulse, which leads them to accept so-called "inclusive language," is commendable and Christian in and of itself. They sincerely want to demonstrate an attitude of openness, fairness and respect to women, which is exactly what the Bible requires us to do. I cannot stress enough that the motivations are admirable in and of themselves.

But the problem, which most Evangelical Christians fail to think through before jumping on the "inclusive language" bandwagon, is that to require fundamental changes to language and speech is to make a negative judgment on all those who came before us and, by extension, their doctrinal beliefs.

What "inclusive language" says is that we are now enlightened and so we now recognize that in the past the exclusive, oppressive behavior of our ancestors was reflected in their language. So it is not enough to make concrete changes in society to, say allow women into the professions and the universities or give them equal property rights or the vote. We must also renounce past oppression by signaling in our speech habits our opprobrium for past habits of thought as well.

Female equality was achieved by the first wave of feminism from the late 19th century to the 1950s. By the dawn of the 1960s, women in the West were the most free, had the most legal rights, and had the widest scope for action of any generation of women in any society in the entire history of the world. And the reaction of the new wave of feminism that arose in the late 1950s to 1970s and which was highly influenced by Marxism, was to condemn violently the society which produced this state of affairs as racist, colonialist, patriarchal, oppressive, violent and evil.

An attack on the family was launched in the form of the sexual revolution and the sexual revolution, with its hedonism and extreme individualism, is still being institutionalized in Western society today. Inclusive language is part of that process of institutionalizing the sexual revolution and second wave feminism as the "new orthodoxy" of our society and if Evangelical Christians are unreflective enough to go along with it for their own reasons, that is fine by the cultural revolutionaries for now. But Evangelicals should not be naive enough to think that it stops there.

Speech codes are a never ending cascade of fundamental change imposed from above on individuals and they are designed to re-shape our way of thinking. If you think that just referring to "men and women" all the time instead of to "men" is the end of it, you would be wrong. The changes to our language reflect the "progressive" changes to social mores and since such changes are unending so are the changes to language.

Recently there was a story about how the US State Department has decided that US passports would no use the terms "father" and "mother" and instead use the terms "parent one and parent two." (See "Parent One, Parent Two to replace references to mother, father on passport form" - Jan. 7 Washington Post). Even when applying for your passport you must be reminded that enlightened, modern people accept homosexuality as normal. This is now what "inclusive language" means. This is the kind of thing I mean and examples could be multiplied endlessly.

Not only do the social revolutionaries want homosexuality to be legal and homosexuals left alone, that was achieved 50 years ago but it is not enough.

Not only do the social revolutionaries want homosexuality recognized as good and normal in law, that was achieved long ago but it is not enough.

Not only do the social revolutionaries want everyone to recognize the goodness and normalcy of homosexuality, they want use public institutions and public funding to inculcate their moral views into the children in public schools and into the public at large. But even this is not enough.

Finally, the social revolutionaries want to to pass laws to hunt down and punish those who do not conform to the new group think that they are imposing by coercive means on society. (See, for example, the work of Canadian Human Rights Commissions.)

My point is that it is naive and ineffective to simply capitulate on one point at a time and by doing so to think that if you are just cooperative this one time they won't be back for more. This has been proven to be wishful thinking.

Evangelicals who adopt inclusive language policies may have the very best of intentions and
the purest of motivations. But my question is: Where do we draw the line? The one answer that is totally unrealistic is the naive position that no lines have to be drawn in the culture war against the traditional family.

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