Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The KJV-only He-man Woman Hater's Club

A Hip and Thigh Classic

The week has me smothered in work and family obligations, so it has been difficult finding a moment to write substantively. Monday's post was linked by both Challies and Phil. I was mildly surprised it would gather such attention, but I am guessing many folks who run between those two blogs know what it is to read a Chick tract. Anyhow, at a wedding over the weekend, I saw an old roommate and he and I began chatting and before we knew it, we were talking about Fundamentalist wonderkid sensation, Steve Anderson, founding pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ. That drew my attention back to a post I did on one of his You Tube videos. It was an awesome spectacle to behold. A transcript is available in the comments. I figured if any of the first time readers from Phil and Tim's places who stopped by over the last couple of days enjoyed my rant on Chick, they'll enjoy this one too, so I'm giving it a re-post.

WARNING: The following post contains language, even though many would call "biblical," others with weaker constitutions, like home school mothers and spiritualized, finger wagging goody-goods, would consider low-brow and inappropriate. Some may even say bathroom talk. Just so that every one understands I am not going emergent with my blog, I present to you this warning as a caution. Thank you.

*See update at bottom

There is an unique You Tube video floating around the community of former hardcore, fundamental KJV-onlyists, where I frequent regularly, and it has stirred up conflicting feelings of both overwhelming laughter and despairing sadness.


Basically, the video is a section from a message delivered by a KJV-only preacher/pastor in Tempe, Arizona by the name of Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church.

In the section, preacher Steven seizes upon a Hebrew idiom translated in the KJV as "He who pisseth against a wall" and proceeds to argue that the KJV is a more manly translation because many of the modern versions, rather than giving the literal rendering of the phrase, simply translate the meaning of the idiom something like, cut off every male. One of my favorite lines in the entire rant is when preacher Steven, with index finger firmly tapping the top of his podium for emphasis, says "They may be males, but they're not men."

Preacher Steven then goes on a 4 or 5 minute tirade against the emasculation of today's man by the feminization of our modern culture. The highlight is when he recounts his demoralizing time in Germany where in every public restroom, as well as in private homes, there are signs prohibiting men from standing when relieving themselves. Poor Steven had to sit to pee. Such is the way of our feminized societies in which men have not only forgotten about God, but they have forgotten to stand up for themselves.

Amazing, huh? How should we stand against this astonishing buffoonery that masquerades as biblical preaching? A couple of thoughts.

First, the phrase, He who pisseth against the wall, is a Hebrew idiom that is meant to describe male descendants or heirs in a generation. It is not at all describing masculinity, especially as this pastor is defending it. The phrase is used 6 times in the KJV, 1 Samuel 25:22, 24; 1 Kings 14:10, 16:11, 21:21; and 2 Kings 9:8. In each of these instances, the phrase is employed as a curse describing how the heir to a family line will be cut off so that the family generation will cease to have an inheritance in the land of Israel. Looking at each one of these verses in their context clearly demonstrates this. It has nothing at all to do with men being men.

Thus, not only has this guy mis-interpreted this idiom, he is mis-applying it in his application defending masculinity and crying against a feminized culture.

Second, preacher Steven definitely represents a fringe element within fundamental KJV-onlyism. However, anyone who is familiar with the apologetic literature of KJV-onlyists knows one of their foundational talking points is that the KJV, as a translation, has been translated by the greatest Christian scholars who were expert in the original languages. No modern version can match the KJV in scholarship. This is certainly the argument made by D.A. Waite, David Cloud, and other "mainstream" KJV-only Fundamentalists. D.A. Waite even makes the scholarship argument one of the 4 points to his "four-fold superiority" of the King James Bible.

Shortly after an individual on an email discussion group where I participate on occasion posted a link to this You Tube video, KJV-only gadfly Will Kinney, sent out an article addressing the idiom, "he that pisseth against the wall." He concluded his email by saying,
Those versions like the RSV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NKJV and Holman that read "against A MALE" are the ones that are not following the literal Hebrew readings. This is what GOD wrote and inspired in His words. God knows perfectly well how to say "pisseth against the wall" and how to say "male", and He said "pisseth against the wall". Look it up for yourself.

Later, in response to criticisms of his conclusion, especially the notion that modern versions are emasculating the biblical text by not translating this phrase literally, Will continued to insist that to not translate the phrase as it is originally written in the Hebrew introduces not only an error in the biblical text, but most certainly feminizes the Bible.

Just a couple of thoughts:

First, I repeat my questions I asked Will for the benefit of other KJV-onlyists: How exactly is the word "piss" more masculine than the word "urinate" or "pee?" How is the meaning changed in modern texts? I personally like the idiom to be translated as it stands in the KJV, however, how exactly is the meaning of the text changed if the translators intentionally translate just the meaning of the idiom and not the literal wording of the idiom?

Secondly, his claim exposes classic KJV-only double-standards. Let me explain what I mean:

Everyone knows that language will change over a period of time. A word or phrase that has a primary meaning in one generation can take on an entirely new meaning in the next. For example, no one in our modern society thinks of the word "gay" as meaning "happy." In fact, when we hear those old time songs from 70 or 80 years ago sing about being "gay" we snicker, because what they understood as being "gay" in the 1920s and 30s does not mean what we understand "gay" to be in the first decade of the 21st century.

Idioms are also a good example of this. In the 17th century, the word "piss" didn't carry the crassness that it now carries in our culture, so the translators didn't have a problem translating the phrase as literal as possible. Modern readers tend to cringe at such word usage, and modern translators, recognizing this change in culture, chose instead to translate the meaning of the phrase, rather than a word-for-word translation. It means the same thing. Nothing is "taken away" as KJV-onlyists attempt to argue.

Now, what most folks don't know is that the KJV does the same thing with idioms as modern translators do. A relevant example is Matthew 1:18, which in the KJV reads, "to be found with child." This is not, however, what the original states. The word "child" isn't in the verse. Literally, it reads something like, "found to have put it in her." Now why didn't the KJV translators translate that literally as it is found in the text? Is it not, as Will argues, what God wrote? His inspired word? Yet here, we have an instance of the translators considering the sensibilities of the readers of their translation who would think such description of child bearing was crude and certainly non-poetic, providing the meaning of the idiom rather than a literal word-for-word translation. The only difference, though, is when the KJV translators do it, they're considered the greatest scholars the world has ever known, but if modern translators of the ESV do it, they are corrupting God's Word.

With all of that aside, however, I believe there is much more at stake here. I said the video produced conflicting emotions of both laughter and sadness. I laughed at such nonsensical reasoning of this passage. But, I am saddened that this man is allegedly shepherding the souls of men and women who look to him as a spiritual leader. It is gross negligent incompetence at its worst. At the website of this church, there is a page with photos of new members being baptized. I am grieved that all these smiling faces, excited for their new found faith in Christ, have identified themselves with a church that will only ensnare their souls with the most absurd legalistic ideology, while calling such behavior "being holy" and "separated." These poor folks are going to have a warped understanding of the Bible and God Himself, and will more than likely be spiritually traumatized for sometime to come because of this man's deplorable teaching. I can only hope that because God is sovereign that I can confidently trust He will deliver His people in due time.

UPDATE (2/15). A thoughtful reader wrote out a transcript of this guy's message from the video and posted it in the comments. The impact of how deplorable this man's preaching comes out more when you read what he said.

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Blogger Carl said...

I assume that Steven Anderson is a graduate of the Peter Ruckman school of KJV-Onlyism? ;-)

8:58 PM, February 13, 2008  
Blogger Kim said...

Well, this home school mom didn't get too bothered by the language of your post at all.

Good post, too!

4:29 AM, February 14, 2008  
Blogger J. Brian McKillop said...

Fred, you summarized my feelings about the video exactly. Thank you.

5:13 AM, February 14, 2008  
Blogger Steve said...

Excellent concrete examples of the KJVO double standard. Good stuff.

You didn't even get into his amazing numerology nonsense. Just as well.

6:24 AM, February 14, 2008  
Blogger Hayden said...


Have you been listening to Mark Driscoll alot? [dripping with sarcasm which will get our favorite 'Christian songwriter' to show up and comment on Mark's sub-par preaching]

Really, on a serious note, this serves an excellent sermon illustration for what I am preaching on Sunday. I am going to preach a message from Philippians 3:2-11 entitled 'God hates Religious People'. It has really convicted my souls as well as encouraged me. This video would definitely fall into the category of things that do not please God :)

7:25 AM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger threegirldad said...

I transcribed the video for the benefit of those with hearing problems. Posting with permission:

I’m gonna close with one thing. I was readin’ my Bible this week, and I kept seein’ this phrase jump out at me in the Bible. And you’re not gonna like this, but you haven’t liked this sermon up until now, so why would I, why would I try and please you now? You’re gonna, you’re gonna be mad no matter what I say.

And I was readin’ the Bible, and, uh, I kept seein’ this phrase, and I, and I studied this phrase in the Bible – it’s used six times, and it’s used by God, it’s used out of the mouth of God. And, uh, it’s when the prophet is preaching to the king of Israel, Jehu, and he says – uh, I’m sorry, Jereboam the son of Nebat – and he says, “Thus saith the LORD,” he said, “I will destroy from Jerobaom him that pisseth against the wall.” Have you ever seen that phrase in the Bible -- put up your hand -- “him that pisseth against the wall”? You see that in the Bible. It’s used six times in the Bible. And it’s, you know, “six” is a significant number in the Bible. It’s the number of a man. You know, there are different numbers that represent different things in the Bible? Like, “seven” is the number of completion, you know? “Five” is the number of death, and you see that all throughout the Bible: people being killed under their fifth rib, Genesis 5:5, Acts 5:5, on and on.

You’ll see, uh, different numbers and, and significance of numbers, and, and the six times this phrase is used in the Bible, and you say, “Oh, I can’t believe you’d, you’d speak that way; that’s vile!” I’m sorry, but the Bible says that the words of Jesus Christ are wholesome words, and the Bible says every word of God is pure. And, so don’t accuse me of using bad language. That’s what the Bible says. He said, “I will destroy him that pisseth against the wall.” Now, what did – did you ever stop and think, “What did God mean by that?” Did he mean, well…I, well, what did he mean? Obviously, what is he talking about? All the men, right? He said, he said, “I’m gonna kill all the men…that come from Jeroboam.” Because there’s a difference between men and women: men piss against the wall; women don’t. Ok? And so God said, he used that language, he used that expression – and, by the way, that expression is only in the King James Bible, the New King James eliminates it; this is what the New King James says: “males”…”all the males,” and, you know, the, the guys who made it are “males”; they're not men – and God said a man is somebody who “pisses against the wall.” Did you know this? When I was in Germany – and you’re not even going to believe this; you say, “Why are you preachin’ this?” Cuz it’s in the Bible, ok? – I was in Germany, and, uh, I went to use the restroom in Germany in several different peoples’ houses, I mean totally different people, and even in public places, they had a sign that prohibited a man from peeing standing up. I’m not kidding. I mean, you can ask – my wife is from Germany, and I was there for 3 ½ months – they had a sign in peoples’ house, they had a sign in the public restroom that prohibited – I’m not gonna, you know, it was like a circle and a line through it – and it’s no peeing standing up. And I asked my wife, I said, “Is that like--?” I thought it was a joke. It’s like, “Is that a joke?” That’s kind of a crude joke. She said, “It’s not a joke.” She said, “No man in Germany pees standing up.” That’s where we’re headed in this country, my friend. We got a bunch of pastors who pee sitting down. We got a bunch a – and, and you say, “Ah, you know, you’re being vile.” I’m not – Hey! Then God’s being vile. God’s the one that wrote the Bible, my friend. We got, we got pastors who pee sitting down; we got the President of the United States probably pees sittings down; we got a bunch of preachers, we got a bunch of leaders who don’t stand up and piss against the wall like a man. And I’m gonna tell you somethin’: that’s what’s wrong with America. You don’t, you don’t like it? You don’t like an old-fashioned Bible, that tells you what bein’ a man’s all about? Because it’s called the King James Bible, and if you don’t like that term, “piss against the wall,” then you know what? Go to the bookstore this afternoon and buy a New King James. It’ll take out that word, it’ll take out the word “damnation,” it’ll take out the word “hell” about half the times, it’ll take out the word “Jehovah,” the name of God, it’ll take out anything in the Bible that, that has any, uh, power to it; it’ll take out anything that tells you how things are supposed to be, but you know what? Four hundred years ago, pastors used to STAND UP, AND PREACH THAT A MAN NEEDS TO BE A MAN! Not a “male.” Not “the males.” It’s cuz the editors of the NIV pee sitting down. It’s because the editors of the New King James, they all pee sitting down. I’m gonna tell you something: I’m not gonna pee sitting down. I don’t care if it’s Germany, I’m goin’ to Germany in about a month – you better know I’m gonna stand up everywhere I go.

7:28 AM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger Daniel said...

This kind of stuff always boils down to an interesting blend of right thinking with wrong thinking.

No one would soberly argue that when scripture describes "any who urinates against the wall" it is describing anything other than those who are of the male gender.

The question for some however is not whether it describes those of the male gender or not, but rather whether we have the right (or the perspective) to rephrase the way God describes the male gender in these passages.

As much as I find KJO-ism foolishness, and as willing as I am to see that foolishness exposed, yet I am inclined to prefer translation over interpretation. There are many ways to describe the male gender - and that increases or decreases from one language to another - but the idea of urinating on a wall transcends the language and gets to the root of the matter, and perhaps more - those infant males who could not pee on a wall, perhaps they were spared? Do we have the perspective to insist that the flowing but absolute language (all males) of our translation really reflects the original - or do we presume that since the description of peeing on a wall describes what males do, it can be tossed out and replaced with males?

I am being, I suppose, an adversarial advocate, but my point is only that if you translate these six passages as peeing on a wall, they may only refer to those of the male gender who are old enough to go and pee on a wall by themselves, but if you translate it to all males - you take away one possibility that may actually be there on purpose.

Those who tremble at God's word are loathe to go that far even when the matter at hand seems trivial.

For the record - Dan is not KJVO, I prefer the NASB. I just wouldn't bang a gong about the rephrasing of the original text to say "males" here. I would prefer to leave it as any who urinates on the wall. It is less inclusive, which is not intended to be a judgment against how anyone else reads the text - just that I would prefer to let my own concscience, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, guide me into how I am to understand a verse rather than have a translation that robs me of that opportunity - however minutely.

5:15 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I would agree with you. In fact, I like the idiom the way it is translated in the KJV because it grabs your attention. My contention, however, and I am sure you will agree, is that this guy was misapplying this passage, and his insistence that there is something wicked with translating the idiom. Nothing is further from the truth.


6:08 PM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger ct said...

Fred, are you Roman Catholic? If yes, are you a Jesuit?

6:08 AM, February 20, 2008  
Blogger M said...

Hey, thanks for trhe transcription. I'm one such guy with a hearing problem. And I laughed, too...

7:40 PM, May 05, 2008  
Blogger s.driesner said...

Great (re)post.

Not entirely off the subject, but is the title of this post based on the song "He Man Woman Hater" by the band Extreme? Did we listen to the same music in the '90s? ;-)

8:41 AM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger s.driesner said...


Have you ever read "The Word of God in English" by Leland Ryken?

It is an excellent resource to help understand the issues related to translating the Bible, the various historical approaches taken by various translators, and the key issues to consider when reading any translation. Highly recommended, no matter what translation you prefer.

Another great resource is James White's book "The King James Only Controversy," which more specifically addresses the issues regarding KJVOnly-ism.

8:48 AM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Not entirely off the subject, but is the title of this post based on the song "He Man Woman Hater" by the band Extreme?

I am familiar with Extreme, but the title comes from a Little Rascal's episode. The name of Spanky and Alfalfa's club.

8:56 AM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger s.driesner said...

I am familiar with Extreme, but the title comes from a Little Rascal's episode. The name of Spanky and Alfalfa's club.

I've watched Little Rascals, but not that episode. Thanks for answering my question.

10:15 AM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...


10:29 AM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger Pierre Saikaley said...

..."how exactly is the meaning of the text changed if the translators intentionally translate just the meaning of the idiom and not the literal wording of the idiom?"

Some KJV-Only guys will say it's the job of the translator to give the literal translation and let us do the interpreting.

Which I suppose makes some sense, to the extent that it can be done when possible. In any case this interpreation was WAY off. It's the fallacy of reading a modern meaning into an ancient phrase.

7:11 PM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Some KJV-Only guys will say it's the job of the translator to give the literal translation and let us do the interpreting.

Yes. I know. But when the KJV translators do the very thing the modern KJV-onlyist complain about, it is difficult to be taken seriously.

5:42 AM, January 13, 2011  
Blogger threegirldad said...

Still available for viewing on YouTube, just in standard def rather than HD.

See here.

It's difficult (imo) to get a sense of just how kooky this guy is without hearing him say the words.

11:31 AM, January 13, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thanks brother! I amended my post with the link. The last time I checked it had been taken down and I couldn't find it anywhere.

12:20 PM, January 13, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

Fred, do you think if a person reading the KJV version imagines Jesus’ voice in a harsh tone or a soft tone in certain verses that the person reading it has somehow altered the KJV in some way? I was wondering about that when I was listening to the KJV audio New Testament by James Earl Jones. Maybe we should report this to Gail Ripliner. I don't think she caught this one.

10:55 PM, January 13, 2011  
Blogger Highland Host said...

David Firth, a theologian and commentator, argues that the KJV translation be more or less retained as follows (in 1 Samuel 25): "David's language is intentionally crude, and its force should not be muted in translation... The idiom is always used in the context of group extermination... the vulgarity demeaning those who should be killed." ('1 & 2 Samuel' [Nottingham/Downer's Grove, 2009] P. 269).

Of course, Pastor Anderson might not like the REASON Firth thinks "pisses against the wall" should be retained!

4:31 AM, January 20, 2011  

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