The People for the Ethical treatment of Animals, otherwise known as PETA, is petitioning the translators of the NIV to cease the Bible’s “speciesist” slant and stop referring to animals as “it”. Their request? Refer to them as “he” or “she”. Here’s a link to the article: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/23/peta-dont-call-animals-it-in-the-bible/?iref=allsearch
There are some days I feel I need to change the name of my blog to “Really?” This is one of those days.
They have made up a new word to accommodate their particular perspective–”speciesist”. In other words, they are comparing the serious social problems of racist viewpoints with our view towards chickens. Really?
The Bible is very plain that God intends for humanity to be good stewards of the creation He has entrusted us with, as far back as the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:19). But animals are not of equal import to people. I love my golden retriever. He’s a great dog, a loyal and faithful companion. But he is not equal to my wife and children in terms of importance. What is ironic is that many people I have known that are involved with PETA, Greenpeace, and other animal rights groups are often staunch supporters of abortion. While this is not a blanket reality, the fact that such a twisted dichotomy is prevalent is telling of their worldview.
How do people arrive at such skewed viewpoints? Well, the Bible tells us that this is the natural result of rejecting Biblical truth: “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25).
They also try to suggest that the Bible teaches vegetarianism. This, too, is addressed: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:1-5). While I admit to helping the cows of Chick-Fil-A in their call to “eat more chicken”, I have to say that those cows are also awfully tasty, particularly with A-1 sauce. Lord, I indeed receive them with thanksgiving. Cooked to medium, please
I don’t mean to be flippant (well, maybe a little), but this sort of silliness is just over the top. I have a measure of respect for what PETA does, as well as other organizations that do their best to protect animals who are helpless and being needlessly abused or neglected. I commend them for their efforts and can support them to an extent because, as I said, we are to be good stewards of all of God’s creation. I cannot in any way support when they suggest animals are equal to, or more important than, human beings. In this particular case, the problem is that they have wondered far out of their realm of expertise by suggesting a specific Biblical interpretation.
What they are asking for, to refer to animals by male or female, is impossible given the nature of the Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). In their desire to be “progressive”, they are not asking for a correct translation, but a translation the reflects their particular world view. This matches up with my blog from earlier today, where the Bible warns that people will gather up teachers that teach what they want to hear according to their own ideas (2 Timothy 4:3-4). What PETA is asking for is a complete violation of every sound exegetical principle of Biblical translation and study. The NIV is not my favorite translation by a long shot, but if the translators succumb to this sort of pandering, it will have the same level of respect from me as the National Enquirer–trying for the truth, but manipulating it based on what people “want to read”.
We don’t have the right to interpret Scripture however we want to–it is to be done in the context of Scripture itself and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). We are to allow the Word of God to mold us, not vice versa. The Bible talks about the importance of accurately interpreting and teaching Scripture: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). God has high expectations from those who claim to teach His Word: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
PETA needs to stick to what it does best: protecting animals who are genuinely abused or endangered, and leave the Bible translation to the experts.