Chapter 4 of “Mama Bear Apologetics” is about something Hillary Ferrer calls “linguistic theft.” I’m sure you’ve experienced linguistic theft even if you aren’t familiar with the term. It refers to subtly changing the definition of commonly used, (and often Biblical) words in order to cast traditionally held values (and the people that hold them) in a negative light. If you haven’t read Chapter 4, I would encourage you to do so, as Ferrer explains what it is much better than I could, and I won’t attempt to summarize the whole chapter. However, I thought it might be helpful to give an example of how “linguistic theft” is impacting our society. Let’s take a brief look at how “linguistic theft” has entered the abortion debate.
So have you noticed how the abortion debate has changed recently? Those in favor of abortion don’t even seem to use the term “pro-choice” anymore. Instead, those supporting abortion refer to it as “women’s health”. Do you notice how that change in phraseology frames the argument? If abortion is really about “women’s health”, which side of the argument is cast as the bad guy- those that support abortion or those that think it should be illegal? After all, who could be against women’s health? So those who hold an earnest belief that a fetus is a child created by God, (with a future ordained by Him and rights given by Him,) are suddenly “anti-women’s health”, as if we must also be against mammograms, heart screenings, or ironically, prenatal care. By casting pro-lifers as being against women’s health, we become the bad guys because we do not support 51% of the population of the Earth, as some define “support”. And that is how “linguistic theft” works. Change the definitions, and you can confuse and change the argument to benefit your side.
Our children are growing up in an age where the definitions of words have been changed to an unrecognizable version of the original (or Biblical) words. In Chapter 4, Ms. Ferrer gives several examples of words whose definitions have been twisted, such as love, truth, tolerance, and justice. By hijacking these Biblical words, those opposed to Christianity can make our faith seem irrelevant, intolerant, or even bigoted. So what can we as parents do?
Jesus said that anyone who listened to and obeyed His words is like a person building their house on rock; they would have a strong foundation for their lives. God’s Word must be at the center of our kids’ understanding of words like love, truth, and justice, for each of those words has a Biblical definition. So when our culture defines “love” as free sexual expression, we can respond that real love was best displayed by “God giving His only Son”, that love sacrifices for another’s good, and is concerned not just about another’s happiness, but also their HOLINESS. When the world treats truth like a Rorschach ink blot to be defined however we wish, we can assert that Truth came to earth in the Person of Jesus, that He is real and knowable and UNCHANGING.
In today’s email, I would like to offer some Scriptures we can use to help our children understand the true, Biblical definition of some of the words whose definitions are often warped by those opposed to the Christian faith.
Love- 1 Corinthians 13 provides a great description of what love looks like. John 15:9-17 stresses that if we love Jesus, we will obey Him, and that we must love others sacrificially, as Christ has loved us. 1 John 2:15-17 tells us that though we should love the people in the world, we shouldn’t love the ways of the world, which are motivated by sinful desires.
Truth- In John 14:6 Jesus says that He is the way, the Truth, and the life. If we want to know what is true, we need only look to Jesus. John 17:17 tells us that God’s Word is truth, and that it makes us holy. In John 18:37, Jesus says that everyone on the side of truth listens to Him.
Tolerance- 1 John 1:5-7- we should not tolerate any darkness (disobedience) within ourselves. Matthew 5:43-48 says that we should love (and that means putting up with) our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us. Putting up with people doesn’t mean that we legitimize everything they do. Acts 2:37-39- we are told to repent of sin in order to receive eternal life,( and if we are obedient to Jesus’ command to evangelize the world, we will call other people to repent too.)
Justice- While the world defines justice as having equal outcomes, Scripture defines the word differently. Isaiah 58 tells us to provide food to the poor, to clothe the naked and to provide for our families. Leviticus 19 tells us not to underpay our workers, but verse 15 also says not to favor the poor over the rich in court just because of their poverty. Biblical justice treats all people with the dignity they deserve, as people created as equals, in God’s image.
There are of course other passages we could refer to, but those listed above can help us make sure we have a Biblical view of some of the words given to “linguistic theft”. By God’s grace, when we know how to correctly define them, we will be able to give our children a proper understanding of these concepts.
Next week in Chapter 5 we will look at the first of the false “isms” addressed in the book, the ever-present belief called “Self-Helpism”.
Have a blessed week in the Lord,