The ‘L’ Word – But It’s In The Bible

After a wee while in the doldrums we are trying to put a bit of impetus back into our campaign to Delete the ‘L’ Word.

We have had mixed results over the years but with a few big successes like Aardman’s The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists movie and with both the BBC and ITV adding it into their editorial guidelines.

Some of our keenest supporters for this campaign have come from churches but sadly, some of the strongest resistance has also come from within the church, in the guise of “but it says it in the Bible”.

Yes, it appears a number of times in the Authorised (King James) Version, but that was published in 1611 when ‘leper’ was the accepted term and this is certainly not justification for continuing to use it today.

If you still speak using “thee, thou, and thy” or end all your verbs with “-eth” then you might have justification for still using the ‘L’ word. But only if you would still call an adder a “cockatrice” or a locust a “cankerworm”. If you pay “usury” on your mortgage or the traffic warden “amerces” you when you go past the time on your pay and display ticket then “leper” could perhaps be permissable too. Otherwise, it just isn’t

Language has changed a lot in the last 400 years. You cannot use an old translation of the Bible as an excuse to use damaging, exploitative language today.

Modern Bible translators which still use it have no excuse as they should know better – however with one unrepentant exception none replied to our letter asking them to change their language use in future.

So, whether or not it’s in your Bible, whether or not it’s in any if the hymns your church uses on a Sunday (I always make a point of not singing those lines or verses), we ask you not to use it and to give people affected by leprosy the respect and the dignity they deserve.

You might even want to gently correct your minister or pastor if you hear them using it too.

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17th Aug 2016

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Opinions are the authors own and not necessarily those of The Leprosy Mission Scotland.