November 22, 2005

But . . . but . . . I thought the NIV was pro-gay?!

Recently, on one of the more militant KJV-only mailing lists, KJB vs The Modern Versions, moderator Teno Groppi had this to say about Ake Green, the Swedish Pentecostal pastor who was recently arrested and put on trial for "hate crimes" for opposing sodomy:

Notice the Pastor who is in trouble for preaching against sodomy got in hot water on the Bible version issue. If someone is not King James ONLY - they have no more final of an authority than the atheist lawyer who nailed him on the issue. They are wide open for just that kind of attack, and have no defense for it. If they have the right to pick a version they like, the liberals and atheists have the same right, and the "conservative" has no grounds to dispute them.

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Here's the only problem with Groppi's assertion: Green wasn't opposing homosexuality out of a King James Bible:

The prosecutor asked Pastor Green several times what version of the Bible he was using. When Pastor Green politely replied that he used the New International Version, the prosecutor replied that Pastor Green was using a "bad translation" and to "get a new Bible" � one that does not question homosexual behavior. (emphasis added)

The problem is, the New International Version is claimed by many (if not most) radical KJV-onlyists to be soft on homosexuality, if not, indeed, pro-homosexuality. Psycho-fundy David Cloud, for example, claims that the involvement of Virginia Ramey Mollenkott as an English style consultant on the NIV committee biased the translation in favour of homosexuals. Mollenkott is the co-author (with Letha Scanzoni) of the book Is the Homosexual My Neighbour? (HarperCollins, 1978); she came "out" in the mid-70s as a lesbian, albeit one who still maintained a high view of Scripture (a position it appears she has abandoned in the meantime). Cloud writes:

If we had known earlier what we know today, we would not have hesitated, as we originally did, to suggest that the New International Version is weak on homosexuality due to the influence of homosexuals. The parallels are too striking to be incidental. . . .

We will probably never know exactly what role Woudstra,1 Mollenkott, and perhaps other homosexuals had in the translation of the New International Version.

Yet if the NIV is so soft on homosexuality, how is it that Pastor Green could be brought up on hate-speech charges for preaching against it from that version? The prosecutor did not berate him for using a wishy-washy translation, but one that was too strong.

KJV-onlyists like to point out that the NIV (and indeed no other English translation of the Bible in common use) uses the word "sodomite" as the KJV does. Hence, the argument goes, the NIV weakens the biblical warning against homosexuality. But what the KJV-onlyists don't explain is why the word sodomite is better than the word homosexual which, thanks to constant media exposure, everyone understands quite well. (The term homosexual didn't even exist in 1611 when the KJV was translated; it was coined in 1869 by Karl Maria Benkert, and popularized by Sigmund Freud's writings. The translators of the KJV used the appropriate word for their day; the NIV uses the appropriate word for ours.)

But if homosexual is a weaker word than sodomite, then why would Cloud use the word so frequently in his article? I hate to be the kind of pedant that makes his point by counting words, but I counted 70 instances of the word homosexual or some derivation; by contrast, he used the "stronger" word sodomite a measly 18 times - and one of those referred not to a homosexual, but a resident of Sodom. If sodomite is the better word, why would he use the inferior one more frequently? Cloud's argument would appear to be self-defeating.

Of course, for the most pathological KJV-onlyists, reality isn't really something they contend with on a regular basis. In a subsequent post, Groppi actually argues that if "the INFIDEL lawyer really thinks the NIV is anti-queer, that's a sure bet that the NIV is pro-queer." (Remind me to update my KJV-only Fallacies Page one of these days. This is a transparent example of argumentum ad odium, known in English as the Appeal to Spite.)

Groppi then makes what has to be the most foolish argument in the KJV-only bag of tricks:

NIV 1 Cor 6:9 "... HOMOSEXUAL OFFENDERS ... will not inherit the kingdom of God."

This certainly can be taken to mean that those who offend homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom. We'd better not offend those homosexuals like God does in Romans 1 - He might not inherit His own kingdom. Could that be why there were two sodomites on the NIV committee (NT stylist Mollencott [sic] and OT Chairman Woudstra)?!

Some defend the peculiar wording of this verse in the NIV by claiming that it can be taken as either homosexuals committing the offenses, or homosexuals being offended, and they choose the former interpretation. However, the fact that it *can* be taken either way is a problem with the NIV. Which rendering would a homosexual rather use?

The issue is not which rendering a homosexual would rather use, but what the word offend means in this context. As a transitive verb, to offend means "to cause displeasure, to hurt the feelings of": Your cigarette smoke offends me. But in this case, an offender is one who offends: and in that instance, to offend is an intransitive verb meaning "to break the law." A drug offender is one who breaks the law concerning drugs. A repeat offender is one who breaks the law repeatedly. And a "homosexual offender" (1 Cor. 9:6 NIV) is one who breaks God's law concerning homosexuality. If only G. A. Riplinger, the Blessed Virgin of the KJV-only movent, hadn't made the same kind of argument in chapter 9 of her potboiler New Age Bible Versions, we could laugh this kind of idiocy out of existence.

In fact, in the Real World, we do. Groppi's kinds of arguments don't last very long on open forums such as the Bible Versions Discussion Board. They can only thrive where KJV-onlyists themselves are able to control, moderate, vet, edit, and censor opposing views. Indeed, if you continue to read the thread in KJB Vs. the Modern Versions, Groppi admits to doing just that. If a theory can't withstand close scrutiny, it isn't worth defending.

Footnotes

1 Old Testament theologian Marten H. Woudstra is often cited by KJV-onlyists as another example of a homosexual on the NIV translation committee who biased the translation in favour of his views. I have made repeated requests on multiple forums for evidence of this allegation that does not come from a KJV-only rumour-monger. None has been forthcoming. Indeed, if you search for woudstra homosexual on Google, the entire first page of hits consists of pro-KJV-only Web pages. All the evidence points to this being one more KJV-only lie.