I like words, actually trying to speak French gives me great frustrations as I know my vocabulary is incredibly small, which it is not in English. I remember telling a story to a young lady in French, and at the end I said do you understand me, “yes” she replied, and then I asked “then why are you laughing?” She replied, “Because it’s like listening to a five year old!”
I used to think that words where just how you expressed things, and so got irritated by those in the equality lobby who wanted to change expressions like chairman to chair person or manhole to person-hole. It seemed to me to be picky and stupid. I no longer think that way. I recognise that our words come from our thinking and actually re-enforces our actions. So if we are sexist, using sexist expressions just enhances our bias.
For those of us who are followers of Jesus language is such an important element, words are important. The great thing is that John, in his book in the New Testament part of the Bible, in the very the first verse says a very interesting thing about words; he says ‘The Word, became Flesh, and dwelt amongst us’. He is of course talking about Jesus, and powerfully presenting the fact that God puts his words into action, in flesh and bones, so that we can really understand what is being said by a physical being in a historical setting in our time/ space/ world.
So then we as followers of this Word go on using words wrongly, and though we profess to say we think/believe something we, usually because it’s easier, use words that say the opposite. Let me give you some examples. We say we believe in the Priesthood of all believers but then refer to clergy and laity, which sort of in action tell you the opposite to what we have said we believe. We say where you go to church, implying that church is a place or building, yet we profess to believe that we as people are the body of Christ, i.e. church. I know it easy shorthand, but it is actually in action saying something opposite to what we say we believe. People get irritated with me when they ask where do you go to church, and I reply, “You can do that?” Puzzled look, what do you mean? Well you can’t go to church you can only BE church – sure lots of the church can gather together, but you cannot go somewhere when you are it.
A friend used to ask me with a smile when I used to ask what time is the Service, do you mean for the car or do you need a service station. What do we think ‘divine service is anyway’ I guess if it is as scripture would have it ‘present your body a living sacrifice’ then I can understand?
Of course we use words in language to cover up the seemingly unacceptable don’t we so ‘Collateral damage’ ‘Friendly fire’ what we are really talking about is dead people, people who have been killed, but that sounds a bit harsh doesn't it.
Words are important, let’s try and say what we mean and mean what we say.
Edited By Gena Areola.