I’ve been noticing something lately that is quite disturbing to me. It’s subtle, hard to pick up on, and difficult to quantify, but once you do, you see it everywhere. What is it that I’m noticing?
People nowadays are not respecting the importance and meaning of WORDS!
What do I mean by that? It would probably do best if I just give you some examples.
One that readily comes to mind is a few years back when our President at the time was being investigated for perjury (lying to a Congressional committee). He had already testified that, “There’s nothing going on between us…” in reference to an extra-maritial relationship with one of his interns. When asked a very direct question about that statement, his response was, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”
What????!!!???!! (I know what he meant, but…) more importantly, “What is he DOING in talking this way?”
He’s intentionally twisting and contorting the real meaning of words to make them support his own interest. That’s NOT what words are for… that’s not how they work. He KNEW what he was being asked and in a slippery and deceitful way tried to evade an honest answer. I’ll give you another, more recent example.
I’ve been reading a book by a well-known leader of a HUGE para-church organization. The book advocates women holding positions of primary leadership within the church. (I’m not going to say the name of the book or the author because I’m VERY embarrassed for him… it’s not a very convincing or scholarly book on many different levels). In an attempt to make his case he appeals to a scriptural concept (a very good and legitimate tactic). But in doing so he too twists the REAL meaning of words to try to support his case. He says this…
“What is modeled for us in the Godhead between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Equality. There is no hierarchy in the Trinity, only absolute equality.”
Did you catch it? He made the word “equality” and the word “hierarchy” mutually exclusive, when in fact they are not. Being equal DOES NOT demand that there can be no roles of leader/follower, etc. In fact in the example of the Trinity I would agree with this writer that the members of the Trinity are equal. But regarding whether or not there is hierarchy within the Trinity, we see Jesus REPEATEDLY telling His hearers that He was in submission to the Father, He had come in the Father’s name, that the Father directed Him in what to do, that the Father had prerogatives that He did not have. (John 5:43, John 10:18, John 5:19) The roles within the Trinity ARE hierarchical, there’s NO WAY to legitimately deny that. As I read the statement made by this author to “support” his claim of equality in roles for men and women, I found that it was a foolish, unBiblical, twisted statement.
An example from daily life might help. My children are completely equal with me in value, but they are not equal with me in terms of role – therefore there is a proper sense of hierarchy in our relationship. I am Dad, they are not… yet we are equal in value. (I’m NOT equating women with “children” and men with “parents” – that would be twisting my words into something I didn’t say.)
Christians, we MUST be very careful in the way we use words. Integrity is at stake. Honesty is at stake. The reputation of our Lord is at stake. We cannot manipulate and twist the true meaning of words to mean what we WANT them to mean just to prove our pet point. We have to be honest with the prescribed meanings of words so that our arguments can be taken seriously. I believe that it’s either flat out dishonest or incredibly ignorant for the afforementioned author to do what he did with the meanings of words. And I believe that it HURTS his cause rather than help it. And ultimately, it will hurt the cause of Christ.