Hawthorn Presbyterian Church

Thinking the Right Way up.

[taken from the Monthly Notes, June 2012]

In many ways, the meanings of key words in our language have been captured and inverted. Everyone agrees that words may alter or vary their meanings over time, but what we have seen over the past few generations is the deliberate perversion and or inversion of long held meanings so that they now provide the cover for all sorts of moral, philosophical and sociological changes. We believe that this is no accident, because when the meanings of a culture’s foundational words are re-defined, capturing it is made so much easier. The past can then be re-interpreted and even re-written, in order to normalise and justify all sorts of present practices.

We see this attack on meaning in the attempts to redefine the word “marriage” so that it would include relationships it was never intended to mean. Of course, there is no argument over whether there have always been aberrant sexualities in history – the Bible is brutally honest about such things – but over whether they should be embraced as legitimately constituting a marriage. The Scriptures are quite clear that marriage as ordained by God only ever involved male and female, and that to declare otherwise is to rebel against His created ordinance. Likewise the unborn is now commonly identified as a “fetus”, which for any latin speakers among us is a perfectly sensible and accurate word for an unborn child, but which for everyone else serves to subtly de-humanise the unborn. In this way, abortion ceases to be what it is - a deliberate killing - and becomes something abstract. As a third example the word “tolerance” has also been subtly re-defined. Originally, the word carried the idea of endurance; that there were some things which, being outside the bounds of “normal acceptability” [however it was defined], were nevertheless permitted as exceptions to be endured, but not thereby normalised. This notion of endurance has now all but disappeared, so that the claim for “tolerance” has become a demand for acceptance as of right. Thus what was once intolerable has become the new normal and what was previously normal has, by re-definition, become intolerable.

However, when God created, he defined much more than the physical and spiritual limits of the universe. He also defined what was “Good” and therefore, what was not. These definitions are fixed, and we are not at liberty to overturn them. In Isaiah 5:20 we read: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! These are God’s words to the people of Judah as He revealed why they would go into exile. Simply put, their thinking was upside-down. Good and evil are not matters of opinion; they are opposites, and this is the point of the bitter-sweet and light-darkness comparisons. As in our own day, this moral inversion was no accident; it had come about through the manipulations of those who were ”wise in their own eyes.” In the words of the New Testament, they had “exchanged the truth of God for a lie”.

It is important that Christians are careful not to allow the capture and re-definition of their own vocabularies. This is no easy task, because to insist that God’s moral definitions are fixed independently of human choice is itself politically incorrect. There will be opposition. However in this as in all things, we have a sure guide: the Word of God which stands forever. If we rest in all it reveals, beginning with Christ himself, we shall know God’s blessing, not his woe. We shall think “right way up.”

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