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Words you thought you understood may not now mean what you think they mean. They've been politicized, and some of these terms, while perhaps useful if defined based upon a Christian worldview, may be used in ways that are contrary to biblical values and a Christian worldview.

Examples of words with new meanings include: 

tolerance and intolerance, inclusion, rights, discrimination, gender roles, sex, patriarchy, Western family, racism and anti-racism, systemic racism, colorblind, privilege, white supremacy, justice, sexual equality, cultural relativism, cultural sensitivity, troll, Black Lives Matter—if you mean the organization as opposed to the phrase or movement. These are merely illustrative. There are many more. 

Some changing definitions emerge organically, meaning they come out of common usage.  All languages experience this form of semantic changeEtymology is the study of the history of words.

On the other hand, for ideological or partisan reasons, words can also be redefined intentionally, even at times with meanings in direct contradiction to the original, historic “dictionary definition.” 

Word meanings can be changed and used as political weapons that may be antithetical to a Christian worldview. “Tolerance” is one of those words. If this word means “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one's own,” then a Christian can use this word to good effect. But if this word means “'all values, all beliefs, all lifestyles, all truth claims are equal,” then a Christian cannot use this term and remain consistent with his or her Christian worldview.

I’ve always considered tolerance as a goal for one’s behavior toward others to be a low bar, particularly when the Word says to love our neighbors as ourselves, a much higher bar than simply putting up with others, even in the name of fairness or respect.

Black Lives Matter is the phrase of the moment, but it’s more than that, it’s an organization that stands for a list of goals incompatible with biblical Christianity. Yet Christians are using the term and the symbols, seemingly oblivious of the contradictions. My guess is that many if not most have not read the organization’s website and in their commendable zeal to stand for racial justice they buy into the latest politics.

The Sexual Revolution continues to redefine and politicize words, beginning with gay and moving on to hammer words like transphobia.

The point of all this is to say that words have meaning, and meanings have consequences.  

In Scripture, Psalm 34:13 enjoins us to “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.”


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

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