Introduce the Bible
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. —Proverbs 22:6 (niv)
A colleague was upset to learn that I enforce gender-inclusive language in my courses. Everyone knows that he includes she and man means human, he argued. So began a series of debates that gradually evolved into what was really at issue: the Bible.
“What would you say,” he asked, “if a student said she couldn’t read the Bible anymore because it excluded her?”
“I’d recommend a gender-inclusive translation,” I answered.
“But what if one didn’t exist?” he persisted. “Would you tell her to just quit reading?”
I imagined my daughter Charlotte taxing me with harder questions. “Mama, how can you believe in the God of that book? How can you read about women abused—cut into pieces, sacrificed as burned offerings—by men praised for their faith? Or Paul saying women can’t teach? How can you be a woman and accept what that book says about women?”
Out of this vision, I answered my colleague: “I hope some student does ask. I certainly hope my daughters do. I hope they vie against every passage, every word, that seems to expose a God Who excludes them— even if it means they reject the Bible altogether—because their faith can’t be real unless they do.”
Considering these eventualities has shaped my prayers ever since, sending me back into Scripture in search of promises.
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