Monday, January 7, 2019
Forty-eight years ago, while I was preaching, there was a four-year-old boy in the back of the auditorium, sitting with his parents, deeply engrossed in his coloring book. During the sermon I used the word “hell.” When I did, this four-year-old, without looking up or ceasing to color his page said, “Mmm, he said a bad word!”
Words and objects can be used correctly or in an opposite way. When our boys were 14 and 16 years old, we were cut off by a fellow driver and I hit my brakes. The youngest son announced, “Dad, that fellow shot you a bird.” I had no idea what he meant. Later that son asked his mother, “Why did God give us a ‘dirty’ finger?” “Shooting a bird” and the “dirty finger” go together for those who are as uninformed as I was. My wife’s reply was, “Man makes one of your fingers dirty, not God.” Man, often takes something that is good and converts it into the ugly or vulgar.
There is a seasonal song that includes the words “gay apparel.” The phase is found in the song “Deck the Halls” first introduced in the 16th century with English lyrics by Thomas Oliphant in the 19th. It was first published in 1862. When that song was written, the word “gay” meant “festive, colorful, or bright.” The word “apparel” referred to clothing. However, in the sixties it was coined as a word to mean the homosexual lifestyle. That creation was successful. The expression in the song seems out of place due to the new definition of “gay.” There is nothing wrong with the word itself.
Sometimes a “bad word” receives another word as it’s substitute to soften its original meaning. It seems that the word “frickin” falls into that category. Have you ever studied the origin of the word to see what it substitutes? Of course, both the speaker and the hearer may not attach the original meaning to the word. interpretation can make the expression good or bad. For this reason, a “new” definition may become the norm and its original purpose lost or unknown to speaker or listener. The word “awful” originally mean inspiring or something that produced “wonder.” “Bimbo” originally meant a “fellow” or “one of the boys.” “Bully” used to mean “darling” or “sweetheart.” It goes both ways. “Fond” used to mean “a weak minded” person. “Terrific” originally meant “terror.” “Sad” meant “satisfied.” The difficult part in all this is when a word is in the process of changing. How does a Christian react when he hears it and what is the intent of the speaker?
We can see this “change” happening in the movies. I was not allowed, until after I left home, to see the movie “Gone With The Wind,” produced in 1939. The male star, Clark Gable, violated the taboo barrier when he spoke one four letter word to his co-star, Vivien Leigh, in that classic Civil War tale. When I viewed it nineteen years later, the word was still in the “No, No” category!
The rating of movies began around 1970. G = General Audience, PG = Parental Guidance, PG13 = A parent had to accompany the young person, R = Restricted to 17 and older. X = No one under 17. If those rating had started prior to 1939, “Gone With The Wind” would have received an “X” rating! Today, it merits the lowly “G” classification. That means it may be viewed by babies to adulthood. As a 1968 Virginia Slims commercial stated, “You’ve come a long way baby.” That slogan now applies to all of society rather than a few women who lit up a cigarette fifty years ago. That illustrates what small children are being fed today as “safe” or decent! If a movie with one curse word may receive a “G” rating, at what number of such words would be allowable until the rating was moved to “PG13.” “R,” or “X”? “G” used to mean no profanity or suggestive scenes. “Gone” is a historical type cinema. Movie goers who do not include such words in their vocabulary block them out. Those who do use such aren’t bothered by one or several dozen utterances. But, what do Christians do in a society where one’s boss and co-workers uses that kind of language? Do you quit and stay at home? I’m not condoning nor condemning, just pointing out a problem that saints live with every day.
Since 1973 there have been over sixty-one million abortions in the United States. It may be true that some medical abortions are necessary, but not the majority. Abortion clinics are making a profit by selling body parts from aborted babies. You don’t hear many objections from politicians, businesses, the Courts, nor even churches on this subject. “When is it too late to perform an abortion”? With some, a baby may be aborted just before birth! How often must the issue be spoken from the pulpit? It is a teacher or preacher’s discretion on when and how often the issue should be preached or taught. Not everyone has the same opinion on this schedule. Students may hold deep convictions on how often the subject should be dealt with. Their number may exceed the teacher’s. When this happens, their discontent is accepted by them as being God’s! This difference of opinion may lead to a “holier than thou” climax. What students of the Bible must keep in mind is that abortions were a practice long before the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. It was practiced in the first century by the Gentile world. It was unlawful only if a dying husband was not provided an heir because of an abortion. This topic is not openly discussed as an issue in our Bible. Neither Jesus, the apostles, prophets, or Holy Spirit brought up the practice as an issue. It does seem strange that inspiration does not openly identify or deal with it, although we feel compelled to do so today. Since 1973 we have had to learn to live in a society that decided it is lawful.
In the first century slavery was openly practiced. Even the New Testament does not address it as a sin or inhumane. Inspiration regulated but did not condemn it. Did slavery disappear when the Acts 2 Pentecost took place? No. Didn’t God add slave owners to the body of Christ as well as slaves owned by those masters? Yes. Did God demand that slave owners free their slaves before they were immersed? No. Philemon is an example of a Christian slave owner that God added to the saved. There is no command from God about slaves being released by Christian slave owners. Would we? Yes. Yet, there is no information in the New Testament requiring that action. There is no passage condemning an individual who owned and rightly treats his slaves. Reading pre-Civil War discussions on the topic reveals it as a heart-breaking issue that led to a war that took 620,000 lives. It was not until the Vietnam engagement, from November 1955 until April 1975 that war casualties passed the number that died during the 1861 to 1865 conflict.
Can you imagine the turmoil when each of these new views were introduced and an old way of life and ethics was questioned or died out? No wonder Pharisee Party members were zealous in demanding that Gentile converts be circumcised to become valid Christians (Acts 15:1,5). Is it surprising that Jesus’ brother and the elders at Jerusalem wanted Paul to prove he was zealous for the Law of Moses by going to worship at the Temple with others (Acts 21:18ff)? Isn’t Paul’s fourteenth chapter in Romans needed to help Jewish brethren understand the Gentile family members and vise-versa?
Is this a problem experienced only by Old and New Testament saints, but something we don’t have to be concerned with today? Or, is this an ongoing problem which we have just as much trouble with as our forefathers? When does a bad thing become good, and when does a good thing become bad?