Apparently, Representative Emanuel Cleaver, who holds ordination with the UMC, closed his prayer before congress Sunday, “Amen and awoman,” in what appears to bring an attempt at gender equity. The problem, of course, is that the word “amen” has no reference, etymologically or in contemporary usage, to the masculine gender. “Amen” is a Hebrew word meaning “truly,” and is used at the end of prayers as an affirmation, in a tradition built from the word’s biblical usage. That anyone should make it into a masculine term and construct a corresponding feminine term is, to be charitable, utter silliness. That a member of congress should do so is a telling commentary on our social situation.
In fact, given the context, we may find Rep. Cleaver’s silliness comparatively innocuous. The U.S. House of Representatives, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, is advancing the dehumanizing ideology of the sexual revolution in ways so farcical that they may obscure the dangers represented. Madam Speaker (if that continues to be an acceptable reference under her leadership) has an ‘inclusive’ agenda to remove gendered language. Paulina Enck, writing in The Federalist:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is attempting to excise all references to either sex in House business to “honor all gender identities” and “promote inclusion and diversity.” On Monday, the House of Representatives is set to vote on a Rules Package for the 117th Congress, which Pelosi and Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern promise will be “the most inclusive in history.”
Removing references to men and women? What does that look like? Enck elaborates:
This would mean replacing any instance of “he or she” with the grammatically incorrect colloquialism of “they” as a singular, or the unnecessarily long “such Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner.” Further, “himself” or “herself” becomes “themself,” a word not recognized by several dictionaries, and acknowledged by the New Oxford Dictionary as “not widely accepted in standard English.”
Words such as “mother” and “father” would be replaced with “parent,” “aunt” and “uncle” with the awkward “parent’s sibling,” and “grandmother” and “grandfather” becomes “grandparent.” I wonder if Pelosi will bring her commitment to language policing to Twitter and remove “mother, grandmother” from her bio.
Next to this agenda, Rep. Cleaver’s bizarre inclusivity appears rather behind-the-times. “Amen and awoman?” one might ask, “and what about the myriads of other genders we have constructed for ourselves?” Feminism was an early step in the revolution, and has now been left behind and labeled one of the oppressors; it held onto the notion that there were such things as men and women, real and immutable identities that inhibited our ability to define ourselves.
But, in Pelosi’s effort, we see the inescapable conflict that underlies so much of our social strife. Rapidly, the pursuit of autonomy turns from defense to offense, and one’s own self-actualization is achieved only by oppressing others. “Inclusion” is advanced by denying the reality of man and woman; including our self-constructed identities involves neutering all mankind. Our pursuit of self-defined dignity follows a path that is, quite naturally, dehumanizing. I say ‘naturally’ because there is a logic at work, which is theological in the end.
Rejecting the Lordship of God—personally and as a society—we seek to remake ourselves in the image of our choosing. But we are not made in that image. We are made in the image of God—thus, idolatry leads readily to self-effacement. The drive to be our own gods fails, and fails spectacularly. Not only do we fail to become gods, but we disfigure our own humanity. The whole sexual revolution—pornography, divorce, abortion, promiscuity, homosexuality, transgenderism, and on and on—absurd and devastating as it all is, flows naturally from the rejection of God.
The solution is the gospel. The antidote to revolution is revival. Christmas is the offer of dignity, and Easter the hope of renewed humanity. We cannot ‘identify’ ourselves into anything truly fulfilling; but, if we find our identity in Christ by faith, we will “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10, ESV). Then we will know true inclusion, the joy of true unity, for “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (v.11).