Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Love in Fundamentalism III: It's Not Just Semantics. Vocabulary Matters

[commenter] Let's not throw out the truth because it's been corrupted, but rather eschew the lie, reclaim the truth for what it is and live it out as best we can.
I think this comment actually hit the nail on the head, but I take issue with the terminology we use to describe the Truth.  The Truth is that Love wants what is best for the other person in the relationship; in fact the best action Love can take will ultimately be the best for both partners.  In fact, quite often, I think submission might actually be the best term to describe the action that Love takes.  But I refuse to limit Love's actions to submission when there are so many examples of when submission will not result in personal growth for one or the other partner in the relationship.

I think a lot of what I so viscerally oppose in evangelical, fundamentalist theology is that there is such a strong Truth buried in the dogma but it gets lost in the wrong-way-round version we are so used to hearing.  The words we say are so emotionally loaded.  We say "submission" in church and we are supposed to think "love in action" but we say "submission" in any other context and we think needing another's approval, always following another's lead, no will of one's one, at the whim of another. How can we not get the issue confused when we are essentially redefining a common English word?

And how often such vocabulary issues happen:  redeem, atone, save, justify. These are the words that come most easily to mind although I remember thinking when I attended church regularly that I really had no idea what most of the hymns were actually saying, or what most preachers meant when they used the church jargon with all its alternate-meaning English.  Frankly, I'm not too sure many preachers are all that clear on what they are talking about because too often use of a word like "submit" ends up supporting ideas like a woman in an abusive relationship must submit to bring her husband around to Christ, or "bringing children up in the Lord" means never letting them be exposed to any ideas except the approved dogma. 

When a Truth gets so distorted through semantics and the sin nature that looks to exploit every power inequity, how are the average churchgoers ever likely to encounter the Truth in the lie?

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