The Gender-Sensitive Parable
of the Prodigal Son or Daughter
by Mitch Cervinka


Note: The following is meant as satire, to demonstrate the absurdity of the arguments given and methods used to produce "gender inclusive" or "gender sensitive" versions of the Scriptures.  It is suggested that you read the passage aloud to get the full effect.


It seems that the various "gender-sensitive" translations have not gone far enough to give equal time to men and women in scripture.  After all, one of the most tender and moving parables that expresses God's forgiving love toward His children is written of a son who, after squandering his inheritance, was received back by his father with open arms and great joy.  But surely this parable was intended to express God's love toward any wayward child of His—whether male or female.  The male-oriented parable of a father and his son is simply not sensitive to the emotional needs of female readers.

Also, the parable teaches us a lesson for any parent, whether male or female,  that they should have unconditional love for their children.  Therefore, it seems inappropriate that the parable should be written exclusively of a father, and so, in the interests of dynamic equivalence and cultural sensitivity, we offer the following improvements:

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal Son or Daughter

11  And He said, "A man or woman had two children.

12  "The younger of them said to his or her father or mother, ‘Father or Mother, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he or she divided his or her wealth between them.

13  "And not many days later, the younger son or daughter gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he or she squandered his or her estate with loose living.

14  "Now when he or she had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he or she began to be impoverished.

15  "So he or she went and hired himself or herself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he or she sent him or her into his or her fields to feed swine.

16  "And he or she would have gladly filled his or her stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him or her.

17  "But when he or she came to his or her senses, he or she said, ‘How many of my father’s or mother's hired men or women have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!

18  ‘I will get up and go to my father or mother, and will say to him or her, "Father or Mother, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;

19  I am no longer worthy to be called your son or daughter; make me as one of your hired men or women."‘

20  "So he or she got up and came to his or her father or mother. But while he or she was still a long way off, his or her father or mother saw him or her and felt compassion for him or her, and ran and embraced him or her and kissed him or her.

21  "And the son or daughter said to him or her, ‘Father or Mother, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son or daughter.’

22  "But the father or mother said to his or her slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him or her, and put a ring on his or her hand and sandals on his or her feet;

23  and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;

24  for this son or daughter of mine was dead and has come to life again; he or she was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25  "Now his or her older son or daughter was in the field, and when he or she came and approached the house, he or she heard music and dancing.

26  "And he or she summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.

27  "And he or she said to him or her, ‘Your brother or sister has come, and your father or mother has killed the fattened calf because he or she has received him or her back safe and sound.’

28  "But he or she became angry and was not willing to go in; and his or her father or mother came out and began pleading with him or her.

29  "But he or she answered and said to his or her father or mother, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;

30  but when this son or daughter of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him or her.’

31  "And he or she said to him or her, ‘Son or Daughter, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.

32  ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother or sister of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’"


Concluding Remarks.
So far as I am aware, no translation has yet gone this far in seeking to regender God's sacred Word.  Yet, we all know that those who have lobbied for "gender inclusive" translations would have tampered with this text also if they could have done so without producing such a ridiculous narrative.  There is absolutely no reason why the generic use of the masculine pronouns "he", "him" or "his" should ever be scrapped, nor why explicitly feminine language has to be inserted into the text where it does not appear in the original languages.  English-speaking readers have never had difficulty applying the scriptures to women when it is appropriate to do so.

When translators must trip all over themselves—turning the pure Biblical text into a Frankenstein's monster of interpolated "he or she"/"him or her"/"his or her" phrases and plural pronouns ("they", "their"), and replacing "son of man" with "human beings", merely because someone somewhere is afraid that a careless reader may misunderstand the feminine application of the passage—then it is abundantly obvious that they have their priorities all wrong, and that human opinion is of more importance to them than faithfulness to what God has said.  Despite all the denials, it is clear that the ultimate motivation in all of this is to please the ungodly feminists of our age who would dearly love to rewrite the scriptures to serve their own selfish interests.

This may not be the avowed purpose of individual translators who work on such a project, but it is most certainly the purpose of whoever conceived of such a project in the first place.  Many of these translators perhaps, like obedient Nazi soldiers, make no value judgment of their task, but simply "do as they are told", blindly following the orders of their superiors to "eliminate masculine language wherever possible".  Such translators should not think that they are excused of responsibility for the resulting abomination.

Each new translation that seriously misrepresents God's Word (as these regendered translations invariably do), generates confusion as to what God actually said, and pushes the envelope for further distortions of scripture.  Christians should voice their outrage at the institutions and individuals responsible for producing such distortions of God's Word, and should pray that the Lord would put a swift end to this practice.

Home | The Gospel | Search | Comments?
Articles | Books | Conferences | Hymns | Library | Links 
21st Century Puritan Web Site - 1997-2004 Mitch Cervinka