An extended discussion broke out in the comments of my “deny Him seventy times seven post,” and it had to do with whether or not my way of expressing myself leaves someone who struggles with same sex attraction feeling quite “safe” around people like me.
One of the themes of my writing is that of trying to get Christians to see how worldview assumptions are embedded in all language, like currants in the bread pudding. Everyone is standing somewhere, and everyone is trying to get us to go somewhere. Before we do so, may we be permitted to ask a few questions?
I write something about the current homo-jihad — because every obvious thing needs a noun — and someone else inquires as to whether my use of such a phrase might be off-putting to a hypothetical visitor to my church, if such a visitor were struggling with same-sex issues. How will you reach him if he is offended by such language and disappears, never to be heard from again?
But the problem with hypothetical visitors is that they are a construct of a worldview. They are produced in an attempt to steer the conversation. My language is moderate compared to some bomb-throwers out there, and yet no one has ever asked me to make things a bit more inflammatory for the sake of a “hypothetical editor of a neo-Confederate newsletter.” What if he visited our church, and was thoroughly offended by how carefully I minced my words, like a donkey chewing a thistle? What if he disappears, never to be heard from again? And if all my interlocutors said “good riddance!” then I would point out (mildly, as is my wont) that their concern is obviously not over the issue of people taking offense at language, but over which direction the language is taking us.
Remember what James tells us. The tongue is not just powerful in a random, destructive way. It is that, as we see through his metaphor of the spark and the forest fire. But the tongue is also a tiller, a rudder. The tongue is enormously influential in taking us where a select few, who would be the pilots of culture, insist that we go.
“Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things” (James 3:4–5a, ESV).
Why do I use the language I do? Because I have no intention of going where they want me to go. By that I include their intermediate stopping points, like the Cities of the Plain RV Park, or the final destination, which would be Hell. If you don’t want to go where they are going, don’t let them have control of your language. One of the most remarkable things about our current imbroglios is how readily Christians cede control over their language to the adversary. Friends, you are being steered.
And not by Scripture either. We obviously should not say or write anything that offends God. But offending Rachel Held Evans is another issue entirely.
And suppose someone says that by saying “Hell” a bit earlier, I am not helping them to feel safe. Right, but suppose for a moment the goal is not to make that person feel safe. Suppose that the goal is something else entirely?
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you” (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).
The reason certain people are plastering trigger warnings all over everything is not because they are unduly sensitive to a certain category of language. Rather they are unduly sensitive to the wrong sort of person getting anywhere near the rudder. If I mention rape, someone will insist that I must be more careful, more sensitive, more thoughtful. “C’mon, Wilson.” A trigger warning is most needed, they say, because the strategy is to get conservative Christians to start policing themselves. Sorry. I am not going to play ball.
The end result of this sensitivity sham is that we will get — depend upon it — a bunch of ostensibly conservative Christians shushing one another over the appropriateness of ever saying homo, while overweight lesbians in their black skivvies can be lauded for parading down the street with a big banner saying, “F*** the Patriarchy.” If ever there should be a trigger warning . . .
The reason these people are offended is that they have nothing but contempt for God’s law. “Great peace have they which love thy law: And nothing shall offend them” (Ps. 119:165).
Confusion is rampant today because the people want to sin. They want to be free from the restrictions placed on them by the holiness of God. We can point this out, and should continue to do so as clearly as we can. But pointing it out is not deliverance. If we are to be delivered from it, then God will have to be the one who rises up. “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: For they have made void thy law” (Ps. 119:126).