There’s a great story in Luke 13:10-17 about a woman being incapacitated by a demon for a period of eighteen years. Versions like the New International and the New Revised Standard use the term, “crippled.” The old King James Version of the Bible uses the phrase, “spirit of infirmity.” The Living Bible says, “handicapped” (no spirit mentioned at all). The Message Bible says she had arthritis.
What brought all this to mind was the word, “crippled.” As you may (or may not) know, it’s no longer cool to use that term when referring to someone’s physical condition. It’s not politically correct. I remember (way back in seminary school) being informed that we should use the word “disability” or “disabled” when referring to such infirmities.
A Crippling Discovery
After exploring the options, I finally ran across a version of the Scripture that uses that term. The “Tree of Life” version employs the phrase, “disabling spirit” in the above-mentioned passage. Had this version been available when I was a seminary student, I’m sure it would have been strongly suggested we use this particular translation (at least by the Disabilities Caucus if by no one else).
Nevertheless, the passage still remains politically incorrect if it makes reference to a demon (which it does). I checked the original language just to make sure. Indeed, the Greek word, pneuma, is used. This is clearly the word for spirit. There is no modifier, such as evil, used. I am assuming, however, that a good spirit would not disable a woman for eighteen years. Hence, the spirit we are dealing with in this instance is a demon (or evil spirit). Further evidence of this is the fact that Jesus casts it out of the woman (another assumption on my part).
It’s also not P.C. because it’s no longer cool to believe in demons either. So, this wonderful story gets stripped of two of its integral parts before we even begin to tell it. God bless the P.C. Police.
Fortunately, the crux of the story is that Jesus is accused of working on the Sabbath. The work, as you may already know, is the healing of the woman. Such things were not to be done on the Lord’s Day—the day of rest. Because of his compassion, the religious leaders nail Jesus as a sinner—a scofflaw.
A Jedi Mind Trick
Come to think of it, it’s no longer cool to believe in miracles such as physical healings. Jesus obviously must have done this with some sort of Jedi mind trick. Apparently, the Force was with him. The woman straightened up, Jesus got into hot water, and the religious leaders were ultimately embarrassed for their lack of compassion.
Having thought it through, it’s evident we should come up with a new version of the Scripture—the PCV (Politically Correct Version). In this version, Jesus would send encouraging thoughts to the woman with arthritis and her spine would respond to his positive energy by straightening up. I wonder if the religious leaders would object to that.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]