I am afraid that unwittingly, we have been a party to lessening the impact of sin in the lives of other people. How so? Through the use of euphemisms. Our society seems to want to dress up nearly every undesirable concept with “soft,” and “friendly” words.
For instance, getting fired is called a “career change opportunity.” Students no longer fail in school, they “acheive a deficiency” (almost sounds like something to be proud of). Our under-appreciated garbage men are now called, “Sanitation Engineers.” Actually, I don’t mind euphemisms being used in certain contexts, but I do mind it when we use them in reference to sin.
When we lessen the impact of one’s sinful choice by referring to it euphemistically, we are contributing to the sinner’s escape from the reality of their sin. When we employ words that carry less guilt, we aid people in their attempt to escape facing what they don’t want to face, or that of which they are ashamed. Are we guilty of doing that? Really? Well, run through this checklist and see how you fair.
When referring to the following sins, do you say…
- “Fib,” “stretching the truth,” “white lie,” or do you call it a lie?
- “Affair,” “fling,” or do you call it adultery?
- “Living together,” “in a relationship” or do you call it fornication?
- “Gay” or do you call it homosexual?
- “News,” or do you call it gossip?
- “Risque,” or do you call it immodest?
- “Off color” or do you call it evil speaking or course jesting?
- “Colorful language” or do you call it cursing?
- “A little too much” or do you call it drunkenness”
This is just a quick sampling of how we lessen the force of sin through the use of euphemisms. Do you know of others frequently employed?
I know this will date me a little, but I remember watching the Phil Donahue show several years ago and he had on a guest who had been divorced 7 times. Donahue, trying to be funny, asked her, “So are you committing fornication with anyone right now?” She looked at him with a confused look and said, “Fornication? What’s fornication?” Donahue replied, “You know, like in the Bible.” Then with a look of recognition, she smiled and said, “Oh, I see what you’re saying now, but I don’t like to call it that.” Well I don’t suppose she did, and for that matter, neither does any sinner.
I’m just suggesting that we shouldn’t be a party to removing the guilt a sinner should feel for his sinful actions. We can still speak the truth in love without removing the guilt or shame a person should feel. It’s that guilt and shame that aids one in repenting. Friends, let’s do our best not to clutter up our nomenclature with post-consumer secondary materials…uh, I’m sorry. What I meant to say is let’s do our bst not to clutter up our language with garbage.