Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Language Propaganda

George Orwell's classic novel, 1984, predicted a world in which, among other things, language would become a means of the government to shape thinking--a propaganda tool. Thus, the very active military was controlled by the Ministry of Peace. The department that created dependence through economic shortages was called the Ministry of Plenty.

Orwell's idea was already being used in the Soviet Union at the time he wrote, and has since been adopted by all sorts of political causes. No one describes themselves as  pro-infanticide or pro-abortion, only "pro-choice." And if you support the recent Hobby Lobby decision, you are "against birth control," instead of objecting to one particularly gruesome and deadly (to the fetus) form of it. The way in which this decision has been framed in the media and by politicians who promote abortion has been so one-sided that most Americans have no idea what is really involved, nor of the ramifications of the recent executive order by the President to force all who have contractual relationship with the government to offer abortion coverage in their healthcare plans.

Those who wish to redefine for all the concept of marriage have embraced the term "marriage equality." However, "marriage" has had a universally understood meaning, and this "equality" asks to redefine something that all cultures and times have understood to be one thing, in favor of a new contemporary understanding. Marriage has always been between the two sexes, not the joining of two people of the same sex. This redefinition of a core human concept is breathtaking to say the least. And it is meant to imply that those who do not agree favor "inequality"--a near universally bad concept in our society, like slavery.

Let's assume, for sake of argument, that a group of people who loved the color red were angered and upset that their favorite color's name was associated with embarrassment (red-faced), crime (caught red-handed), and cultural backwardness (redneck). They decide that it is patently unfair that this is the case, whereas that other color, blue is favored by more people,and associated with being refined (blue blood), noble character (true blue) and great music (the blues). So they decide that blue should share its name with red. These folks start calling for "blue equality." No one color deserves to be thought of as special and deserving of higher status. No, we must call blue, blue; we must call red, blue; and any other color desirous of such recognition should be called "blue" for the sake of equality for all lovers of all colors.

Marriage is not just two people deciding to live together and share everything. Dating is not marriage. Roommates are not married. Cohabitation is not marriage. Marriage, as seen in creation's initial union of male and female, in the clear witness of Scripture, and the concurrent witness of history and culture throughout the world  is a man leaving father and mother, being joined to his wife, and the two becoming one flesh--a new "whole" that includes physical intimacy. The joining is a covenant, the breaking of which is most serious. Adultery has always been seen as "immoral," and while some societies have favored (or at least tolerated) polygamy, same sex unions have never been called "marriage." This kind of redefinition is like calling up, "down," or as in our example, calling red "blue." You can do it, but you rob the word of any meaning.

I suppose that we should not be surprised that people want to redefine reality. Those who follow their same sex inclinations, or embrace the choice of aborting infants have already decided that what the created world shows them, what historic taboos have reinforced, and what the Bible clearly teaches (at this point in agreement with all major world religions), is not enough to govern or overrule one's passions. "What I feel or desire deeply, powerfully, and passionately" trumps "what is true, historically demonstrable, and natural (in the purest sense of that term)." Having decided that one's passions equal one's identity (another spurious construct), and that one's passions thus become the standard of right, good, and true, the redefinition of historic concepts becomes a relatively minor step to take.

For society, this is one more downward step. No surprise in a fallen world where, for all of our talk of the "j curve" of information growth, we get more stupid and silly as sin takes deeper root. For Christians, it will be one more reason we will need grace and strength from God to speak truth that will generally become more inconvenient, unacceptable, and scarce. And our speaking must itself continue (perhaps for some, begin) to be gracious, even as those opposed to our message use ever more inflammatory descriptions of dangers of our views.