Mama had carefully sat me down and explained that substituting a plural pronoun in place of a singular was unacceptable, unclear, and grammatically incorrect. “He” and “she” were the singular forms and ought to be used when appropriate; “they” must be reserved for the third person plural.
Moreover, said she, the widespread adoption of the singular “they” marked a dangerous fundamental shift in the English language, one motivated by the sloppy thinking of modern feminists, whose insistence upon being inoffensive (or, rather, upon their being unoffended), was slowly destroying the clarity and preciseness of our spoken and written word. Why I was correcting my friends’ grammar, I do not know. Perhaps I was showing off. Perhaps I was genuinely concerned for them and thought that by proselytizing them I could do my part to help reverse the slow degradation of the English language. It might have been a little of both.
Redefining words is a clever means of changing the way people think. The Soviets used this to great effect. So has the modern homosexual movement – just consider their appropriation of the word “gay.” They have chosen a moniker for themselves which intellectually distances their chosen sexual identity from the acts and desires which define that identity while simultaneously associating themselves inextricably with the concept of happiness, fulfillment, and gaiety, using the older meaning of the word for their own purposes even as they redefine it. It was a brilliant linguistic coup. So was the singular “they.”
Manhood and womanhood are rooted in the created order. We tend to conceive of them as being defined by certain roles, but those roles are merely a natural outgrowth of God’s created design. The roles He has ordained are congruent with our being as male and female, man and woman. Such is the Biblical understanding, though it is quite clearly not the understanding of mainstream America, or even of most churches.
So were we! You can find all of this, and more, on Fundies Say the Darndest Things!
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