Below is the text of the Colorado Springs Guidelines in their original form, and of the accompanying statement signed by the twelve participants. Click here to see the text of the Guidelines as they were revised and signed by ten of the original twelve signers on Sept. 9, 1997.

The following text is taken from CBMW News, vol. 2, no. 3 (June 1997).

Colorado Springs Guidelines

Statement by Participants in the Conference on Gender-Related Language in Scripture

Focus on the Family's Headquarters, Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 27, 1997

Over the past two months evangelical leaders have engaged in a serious debate concerning the use of gender-inclusive language in English Bible translation. Dr. James Dobson called a meeting of concerned individuals to discuss together and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit in these matters. Those who participated in this meeting give glory to God for His grace evident among us as we worked together this day, and with hope we offer the following statement with the prayer that it will be of use to the Church for the glory of God.

All participants agree that our overarching concern in Bible translating is to preserve the sanctity of the truth of sacred Scripture by rendering the most accurate translation possible. In the interests of such accuracy, we all agree that modern language is fluid and undergoes changes in nuance that require periodic updates and revisions. We agree that Bible translations should not be influenced by illegitimate intrusions of secular culture or by political or ideological agendas. Specifically, we agree that it is inappropriate to use gender-neutral language when it diminishes accuracy in the translation of the Bible, and we therefore agree to the attached guidelines for translation of gender-related language in Scripture.

We agree there are limited times when the use of gender-neutral language enhances the accuracy of translations, but that the trend in usage of gender-inclusive language can easily become—and because of overuse, in too many cases, already has become—an instrument of distortion of the Biblical text.

We agree that many of the translation decisions made by those who produced Hodder and Stoughton's New International Version Inclusive Language Edition in the United Kingdom were not the wisest choices. Further, the statement in the Preface saying "it is often appropriate to mute the patriarchalism of the culture of the biblical writers through gender-inclusive language" (Preface to the NIVI, vii) was regrettable and sadly misleading.

We agree that it was also regrettable that the New International Reader's Version (NIrV), released also as The Kid's Devotional Bible, was released with a Preface which did not explicitly notify parents that gender-related changes were made in this version. We commend Zondervan for offering to refund the purchase price of any NIrV's to anyone who makes a request.  We agree that families that wish to be reimbursed for the cost of The Kid's Devotional Bible (NIrV) should also be granted a refund.

Focus on the Family was distressed to learn that its own Adventures in Odyssey Bible, the International Children's Bible of Word Publishing, is also a gender-neutral translation (in the Old Testament). Focus on the Family is working with Word, Inc. and has withdrawn that edition from its distribution channels.  Focus plans to reimburse parents who request a refund (see attached Focus on the Family press release). We commend Focus on the Family for its decisive and straightforward actions.

It is ironic in light of the present controversy that Zondervan's sales of inclusive language Bibles (NIrV and New Revised Standard Version) are only five percent of all their Bible sales, and in fact most inclusive Bibles are sold by other publishers: Thomas Nelson/Word (New Century Bible, International Children's Bible, Contemporary English Version, and NRSV), Tyndale House Publishers (New Living Translation), World Bible Publishers (God's Word and NRSV), and Baker Book House (NRSV). We commend the openness with which Zondervan approached this meeting, and we are encouraged by the willingness of the International Bible Society to revise the New International Reader's Version so that the revision (which will be completed later this summer) will eliminate the gender-related changes that had been made, bringing it into line with the current NIV. 

This throws into stark relief our wider concern with the translation of God's Word among evangelical publishers at large and the necessity within Bible publishing for greater accountability to the Church concerning the matters here raised. The willingness of the IBS to re-examine the language of the NIrV and to move away from changes made to its text is greatly encouraging to us, and we call on the other publishers and copyright holders to issue similar public statements demonstrating similar reappraisals of their translation principles (see attached International Bible Society press release of May 27, 1997).

We agree that the discussions were transacted in a spirit of mutual trust and charity. Further, the policy statement issued by the IBS and the press release from Focus on the Family evoked profound gratitude and thanksgiving by all present.

With glory to God, and thanksgiving;

Guidelines for Translation of Gender-Related Language in Scripture

  1. A. Gender-related renderings of Biblical language which we affirm:
    1. 1. The generic use of "he, him, his, himself" should be employed to translate generic 3rd person masculine singular pronouns in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  However, substantival participles such as ho pisteuon can often be rendered in inclusive ways, such as "the one who believes" rather than "he who believes."
    2. 2. Person and number should be retained in translation so that singulars are not changed to plurals and third-person statements are not changed to second-person or first-person statements, with only rare exceptions required in unusual cases.
    3. 3. "Man" should ordinarily be used to designate the human race or human beings in general, for example in Genesis 1:26-27; 5:2; Ezekiel 29:11; and John 2:25.
    4. 4. Hebrew 'ish should ordinarily be translated "man" and "men" and Greek aner should almost always be so translated.
    5. 5. In many cases, anthropoi refers to people in general, and can be translated "people" rather than "men."  The singular anthropos should ordinarily be translated "man" when it refers to a male human being.
    6. 6. Indefinite pronouns such as tis can be translated "anyone" rather than "any man."
    7. 7. In many cases, pronouns such as oudeis can be translated "no one" rather than "no man."
    8. 8. When pas is used as a substantive, it can be translated with terms such as "all people" or "everyone."
    9. 9. The phrase "son of man" should ordinarily be preserved to retain intracanonical connections.
    10. 10. Masculine references to God should be retained.
  2. B. Gender-related renderings which we will generally avoid, though there may be unusual exceptions in certain contexts:
    1. 1. "Brother" (adelphos) and "brothers" (adelphoi) should not be changed to "brother(s) and sister(s)."
    2. 2. "Son" (huios, ben) should not be changed to "child," or "sons" (huioi) to "children" or "sons and daughters." (However, Hebrew banim often  means "children.")
    3. 3. "Father" (pater, 'ab) should not be changed to "parent," or "fathers" to "parents," or "ancestors."
  3. C. We understand these guidelines to be representative and not exhaustive.