Language and Corruption
God Looks Down from Heaven
The silence in the secular press about the Lord God who made heaven and earth is deafening. Except for negative barbs in the direction of heaven by way of cheap cartoons, or sarcastic remarks about imposing personal religion on others, the King of glory with His demands and rights are conspicuously ignored. However, while man may so try to ignore God by petulant journalistic de facto atheism, the Lord does not and never has reciprocated by ignoring men and their activities on earth. After all, the world and man is His creation and even if the fool says in his heart and therefore in his newspapers and other media that there is no God, then God still looks down from heaven on mankind (Psalm 14:1,2a; Psalm 53:1,2a). He is deeply interested in what transpires here. After all, it is His creation, His life, and His world. He looks "to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God" (Psalm 14:26; Psalm 53:26). Or as we read elsewhere:
The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven, His eyes behold, His eyelids test, the children of men.Psalm 11:4
Biblical wisdom is difficult to find today. The bankruptcy of thinking devoid of God and His will is painfully evident in the current blind and normless wrestling with the moral issues of the day. Such is the spectacle of the mainstream media today.
In the pride of his countenance, the wicked does not seek Him; all his thoughts are: there is no God.Psalm 10:4
This is not so much a theoretical as it is a practical atheism (cf. Psalm 10:11). Our hedonistic and narcissistic society reminds us of the words of our Saviour as recorded in Matthew 24:37, "As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man …”
"As were the days of Noah …"
The days of Noah were notorious for their sin and decadence. The earth and its inhabitants were thoroughly corrupt. There was no respect for God's will and rights. There was violence all over the world (Genesis 6:11). The Hebrew original shows that this violence indicates extreme wickedness, so that actually no justice was possible anymore because force is used to maintain injustice. Obviously man was not too concerned about God, but God was concerned about man. He looked down from heaven and was deeply grieved and hurt. Indeed, Scripture tells us that,
the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth and it grieved him to His heart (Genesis 6:6). The lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Genesis 6:5 continues to explain why this wickedness was so great. God saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually.
One could also translate this: "everything shaped by the thoughts of his heart was exclusively evil all the time." Whatever man formed with his mind, it was always evil.
This description of the corruptness of man who has so eliminated God from his thinking and acting that he can only yield evil products makes one think of the spirit of the present age. For example, the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year to strike down the federal abortion law has caused an euphoria among feminists because they now supposedly control their bodies. The evil joy is so great that one must conclude that their consciences have obviously already been desensitized far more than we may have expected. When the news of the decision broke, jubilant young women screamed in triumph. After all, they now have an uncontested right to kill any child they might conceive. Can a woman really want the authority to kill her own offspring?
Another, but broader and essentially even more serious example of how the modern secular mind shows its aptitude for shaping evil thoughts, even with the potential of excluding ail distinction between right and wrong, is the gradual elimination from present day speech of moral overtones when all types of so-called sensitive issues are discussed.
Corrupt Language in a Corrupt Culture
It has been noted that the modern world has developed "an entirely new language of good and evil, originating in an attempt to get 'beyond good and evil' and preventing us from talking with any conviction about good and evil." 1
What used to be called "mercy killing" is now called "euthanasia."2 The former term at least recognized the practice for what it was, namely, killing. The present term, euthanasia, masks the basic issue with a euphemism. It also shifts the point of contention from whether it is morally justified to kill for reasons of mercy to whether it is a human right to be able "to die with dignity." Our society has become so corrupt that what used to be a self-evident axiom, namely, the will to live and survive, has now become the will to die if one experiences suffering. Not surprisingly, movements are underway in the United States to legalize suicide and to declare it a fundamental right of a man. It is well-known that in the Netherlands, euthanasia both voluntary and involuntary is widely practiced in that nation's hospitals, in spite of the fact that the practice is (still) officially illegal. But, the corruption has spread sufficiently far in society that those guilty of this killing enjoy strong public support and a lenient judiciary. Understandably, many of the elderly are afraid to enter a hospital for fear of never being able to escape alive.
Another example is that whole area of life of which the seventh commandment speaks. What used to be called adultery is now called a relationship. This became all too obvious in the scandal surrounding PTL's Jim Bakker.3 Never did this former "preacher" speak of his sin or of adultery, only of his relationship, for which he says he is sorry. But who can fault him for having a relationship with someone? How can you repent from that? The term is morally neutral. However, because the term is more and more used as a substitute for adultery, the word picks up sexual overtones when this is not intended, thus giving "relationship" a double meaning. If Bakker says he has repented of his "relationship" with his secretary, what are we to think when he says he has a good "relationship" with PTL's Board of Directors? So neutral words by being misused pick up overtones that corrupt their meaning at other times. Language becomes saturated with evil suggestions and connotations, something the secular modern mindset often finds delightful. Similarly, in the current AIDS scare, we do not hear that homosexual sin should stop, but only that "high-risk behaviour" should be terminated. It is all right, as long as it is safe. Again morally neutral terms like "high-risk behaviour" pick up sexual overtones which become part of a (hidden) double meaning when this phrase is used in completely different contexts. Our sensual age is poisoning word meanings so that it becomes increasingly difficult to express oneself without arousing wrong connotations in decadent minds.
One final and completely different example to show how pervasive this corruption of eliminating moral overtones in language is, is the way segments of Canadian history are being rewritten. Around the area of the historical site, Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, in the Midland region of Ontario, Jesuit missionaries were massacred by the Iroquois in the mid-seventeenth century. They died as martyrs and have always been referred to as such. However, that word "martyrs" has now been eliminated from the official film at the visitors' centre. Rather than being pictured as martyrs for their faith, the question was stressed whether the Jesuits were not intruders into a culture they should have left alone. The Indians had their religion, did they not?
The secular culture we live in tries in many different ways and on widely disparate fronts to take morality and absolutes out of our language and hence out of our thinking and reasoning. We cannot overestimate the gravity of this situation. "Amoral language also breeds further corruption. The more we employ … the language of value relativism, the more we are tempted to think that values really are relative."4 (cf. also James 3.)
It happens more and more often that Christians and unbelievers no longer understand each other. Not in a superficial way, but they really simply do not grasp the full import of what the other is saying. Feminists, humanistic rights activists and thoroughly secularized man have often drifted so far from Christian absolutes that they genuinely cannot understand how some people can still live by the demands of the God whom they have completely excluded from their lives. That means that real communication barriers are becoming apparent. Another result is that patience and tolerance shown to Christians can be much more short-lived than has been the case in times past. Secular press accounts of issues like B.C. Premier Vander Zalm's anti-abortion stand and their coverage of the Christian. Heritage Party provide ample illustration.
On the other hand all those who accept the demands of God and recognize His norms, are increasingly hard put to try to listen to everything that the godless segment of our society has to say. The thought patterns emanating from their minds are totally different from ours. The language of their hearts is also becoming more and more foreign to us. Without clearing ourselves of any blame (!!), the words of Jeremiah 17:9 are appropriate:
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? cf. Psalm 52:2,4
After reading the secular press on issues of moral import, one thinks, there you have it, straight from the spirit of deceit. One can, as it were, sometimes taste the hate of hell against the God of heaven and earth.
This brings us to another consequence. God watches from heaven! He still does! Therefore Jeremiah 17 continues:
I the LORD search the mind and try the heart to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.
Our world is getting ripe for judgment.
In the days of Noah, the Lord could not take the sin any longer. He made an end of it by the flood. In his long suffering, God did promise that even though man's heart is corrupt, never again would a flood destroy the world. 5 The next time the destruction would come by fire. We live in the last age and the words, "as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man." Matthew 24:37
again come to mind. More and more we notice that our culture has so much rot and degeneration that the very fabric of our language has become interwoven with evil overtones and connotations. As we get closer to the point where we cannot speak or think without evil thoughts, can a Flood-like judgment be far away? 6
However, there is more to it than simply ending on such an uncomforting note. Our God is not only Judge, but also Redeemer!