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A Rose By Any Other Name…

Posted by admin in January 23rd, 2020
Published in Uncategorized

Steve Martin, the comedian, used to have a routine about what would happen if parents taught their kid the wrong word for everything. He imagined what that child’s first day of school would be like. Hand raised, the child asks, “May I cow patch to the banana moon?” It’d be a cruel joke.

Sometimes my dear husband likes to explain himself, “Well, that’s just my way of saying…” or “What I meant by that was….” And I have to explain to him that no one has the right to their own form of English. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s a principle. It’s part of the civilization you were born into. Language has rules and part of those rules include a lexicon (a complete set of meaningful units in a language). This is what gives language meaning and without meaning we have no language. The very definition of a civilization includes the word, “organization.”  Civilization is defined as the process by which a society reaches a stage of social and cultural organization. Part of that organization is having an agreed upon understanding of language; having a common language requires a common, agreed upon definition of terms. The great linguist Roman Jakobson said, “Language without meaning is meaningless.” Sounds simple enough, but actually that statement is quite profound. The organization of a civilization is its language and people cannot go about calling things by any name they wish. If they did, it would be chaos.

What in the world is she talking about?!? 

I’m talking about the destruction of our culture by people trying to redefine terms. For example, gender. There are only two genders. I used to teach semantics for graduate students. My example of gender defined was simple. You die, they dig you up in 100 years (for whatever reason) and do a DNA test…they will only find one of two genders. Period. Organization. Civilization. Meaning. (BTW, they’d also be able to identify your age and race – no changing that either).

Marriage. Marriage has to be defined. One of the tools linguists use to define is historical context. Historically, lexicons have provided civilization with a common, accepted, agreed upon definition of the word marriage. But the Oxford Dictionary has changed the definition, “MARRIAGE: the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman).” That’s the Oxford Dictionary’s brand spanking new definition of marriage. Notice how they leave out cultures that accept one husband and multiple wives? Hmmm….that’s because in English-speaking countries, having more than one wife is bigamy. You see, it may sound odd, but having a proper definition of marriage keeps us from marrying our pets. Because language is also necessary for our laws…marriage by definition enforces laws that prevent people from marrying animals, close relatives, and multiples. Do you see where I’m going here?

When language breaks down in a civilization…that civilization will surely crumble.

God bless Merriam-Webster. Here’s their definition of abortion, “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.” They are the only English-language dictionary that uses the word “death” when defining abortion. This is important. It’s important because it recognizes the ending of a life. No other English-language dictionary does that, thus making abortion seem less violent and less serious; less horrific.

Shakespeare said “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” Yes. But it wouldn’t be a rose, Bill. It’d be a daffodil, or a lilac, or a carnation. There’s theology in that.

Language is from God and it is language that sets human beings apart from all other species. God is the God of language. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.” God spoke the worlds into existence and Man’s first job was to name all of the animals. So language is important and how we protect it and defend it is also important because through language we see order, laws, we see organization–the very stuff civilization is made of. And we know a people is heading for destruction when their leaders begin to deconstruct their language. Caligula, the Roman Caesar, is a perfect example of that. He brought his horse into the Palace and declared this pony a Senator of Rome and a Consul to Caesar (he also declared him his spouse, but that’s another story). It starts with the changing of definitions.

What’s your point?

My point is that ALL OF THIS MATTERS! It matters because it’s a signpost: DANGER AHEAD! It’s not insignificant. In fact, it’s crucial! We need to pay attention, because this changing of language and changing of definitions is no small thing. When a nation begins to deconstruct its language and call right wrong; wrong right and male female and female male and marriage is up for grabs as is the definition of life, then we are looking at the demise of that nation.

I don’t know the time frame for our nation, but I do believe God has called us to stand for what is True. I also believe God has called Christians not to be timid in explaining why some things are always right and others are always wrong. We need to be prepared with answers, biblically-based, Truth-oriented, unshakable answers. C.S Lewis put it like this, “It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are” (The Abolition of Man, 1944/1996, p. 31). Without this God-given objective value, society can declare chaos on itself.

There’s no action item here. You’ll have to pray and ask God what this means to your individual life, but my point is to say “Hey! This is not inconsequential!” It’s really a big deal. When leaders and gatekeepers start changing definitions, it is significant and I believe it should prompt me to action, if nothing else, but to stand. Peace.

Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

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53906. Robbie FORSYTHE said,
January 23rd, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Always an enlightening read my dear Christian friend ❤️

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