Word Thieves

I enjoyed the 2013 movie, The Book Thief. The setting was World War II Germany during the Nazi era. A young girl, Liesel, begins stealing books to share with a young Jewish man that her family is sheltering.

Liesel was a thief, but at least her motives appeared noble. I wish I could say the same about the word thieves in our culture today. But I can’t. Because the thieves operating in our midst today aren’t noble at all. You may not be able to shoplift a word or carry it away in the dead of night, but you can pervert it by changing its intended meaning.

And that’s just as bad. Or maybe worse.

To pervert something is to…

  • To change something in an unnatural and often harmful way.
  • To corrupt or to deviate something from what is understood as normal.
  • To cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right.

Yes, we all realize that language is fluid, and that words can sometimes change meaning over the years through usage. Consider the word translated “prevent” in the King James Version of Thessalonians 4:16: “Those who are alive and remain shall not prevent those who have fallen asleep.” That same word is now translated “precede” in many contemporary translations. In 17th Century English, to “prevent” meant to go before; today it means to prohibit or stop something from happening.

That change took place over hundreds of years. Today, however, well-loved words are being hijacked and deliberately perverted. The motivation behind these perversions is to justify behavior that was once considered abnormal or immoral, in order to make them appear to be normal.

I offer five words that have been or are being perverted—terms that modern “word thieves” have stolen from the dictionary. And possibly stained and ruined them forever.

  • Gay:  I so regret the theft of this word. This is a word we once sang at Christmas, suggesting celebration or joy. It described happiness and a lightness of heart—and there was really no other English term just like it. Now, however, it has now been perverted and corrupted to identify homosexual relationships. “Don we now our gay apparel” would better describe recent parades celebrating and flaunting  unnatural sex that once was considered a perversion.
  • Marriage: Here we have a word that describes the covenant union between a man and a woman. Now, however, by adding the phrase “same sex,” it refers to a relationship between people of the same gender. What was immoral and even illegal in my youth is now legally protected. Something unnatural from the beginning of time is considered “natural.” Frankly, I am willing to let two men or two women do as they please in the privacy of their home. But it is still unnatural. It is still a perversion. The word thieves have stolen an infinitely precious and once sacred term—marriage—and twisted it to their own ends. Not long ago we, even the secular state, referred to marriage as “holy matrimony.” But what was once holy has been perverted.
  • Gender identity was once a simple matter settled at birth. The baby was identified by his or her genitals, and the resulting birth certificate declared what was perfectly and inarguably obvious. Today, however, we have opened a Pandora’s Box by passing laws that protect an individual’s freedom to choose their sexual identity, and use either a men’s or women’s restroom or locker room. That may become legal but it will never be natural or moral. People who have advocated the freedom to choose sexual identity or to pursue a gender change must now deal with problems such as a “woman” (once a man with a male body and testosterone) competing against natural women in athletic contests. It is not only confusing and unfair, but ridiculous and unnatural.
  • Rainbow. A welcome and surpassingly beautiful symbol of the Creator’s covenant to never again use a universal flood to mete out justice on a rebellious civilization has now become the flag—the standard—symbolizing rebellion against all that is natural and holy. Of all the symbols, why steal this one?
  • Embryonic pulsation. Now here is a very recent euphemism to justify the shameful reality of the abortion industry. If it only pulsates and is only embryonic is it any less a heartbeat? A human heartbeat in a real person? Please! Enough of this gibberish! It is never natural to willfully choose to kill one’s own offspring.

Have we forever cut civilization loose from the safe harbor of reality and decency? Is there no turning back? Drifting further and further into this world of illusion and shadows, a world that refuses to acknowledge God and His Word, is not a pretty picture. The apostle Paul’s stern warnings to Timothy have never seemed more appropriate: “Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1, niv).

I realize that I am speaking to the choir for the most part. But I suspect there may be a reader or two here on the Front Porch Swing who will discover this blog and push back. If so, I agree you have the right to choose your own path and your own destiny. Even so, I will never relinquish the right to identify this word thievery for what it is: a perversion and rebellion against the Creator.

Untold numbers of once great civilizations have collapsed from within.

Is America immune?  

How far must we drift before we can no longer see the lighthouse on the shore?