What could Humpty Dumpty, Aliens, and Al Mohler have to do with your family communication? Join AMBrewster as he unravels the complicated reality that how we talk controls what we believe and helps Christian parents understand the significant impact the redefinition of words is having on our families.
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Click "Read More" for today’s Episode Notes and Transcript.
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Hey, everyone, welcome back. I really love that you choose to spend this time with us.
Seriously, it’s an honor. I do this because I love God and I love your family and I believe with all my heart that the Lord wants to do something amazing in your family and He wants to use His Word to do it.
Today we’re bringing a three-part conversation to a close . . . for now. No parenting content is ever really off the table. We’ll get back to it eventually.
But for now, we’re finalizing an important discussion about the definition of words. Hillary Morgan Ferrer and I talked about linguistic theft — what it is and how viscously dangerous it is. Last time I talked more about how confusing it is when our words don’t align with God’s definitions and realities.
And today I want to share a very interesting consequence that happens in our children’s minds when we start playing around with language.
But before we do that, I though I’d take a minute to catch you up on my family’s transition.
Back in November we moved from Victory Academy for Boys to serve full-time at Truth.Love.Parent. From a family standpoint, everything is great. It’s exciting. We’ve loving our new life with my parents. We’ve loving North Carolina. The kids are doing well in their homeschooling. Jo and I have been able to have more dates in the past five months than we did the previous 5 years. I’m not complaining; it’s just the nature of the job made it hard.
So all of that is awesome.
From a ministry standpoint, things are progressing slower than I would have liked. But that’s to be expected — my imagination is very robust. I’m trying to introduce TLP to new listeners and churches and families who want to learn how God would have them interact and relate.
I’m counseling and life coaching a lot, and I love that. Each of the families and individuals with whom I work are amazing, and I thank the Lord for bringing them into my life. I do have more time I could dedicate to face-to-face counseling either in-person or online, so if you’ve been waiting to take that step, perhaps you should consider it more. If it involves family, I’d be honored to step you through what the Lord has to say about it. That might be pre-marital counseling, pre-parental counseling, marital, parenting; I counsel children and teens. Really, whatever you need, the Lord has the answers, and I’d be honored to serve you in that way.
The 501(c)(3) process is going well. Please pray for me in that as I make important decisions concerning the future of TLP.
Lastly, financially, the Lord has been providing. I want to thank all of you who give. One-time gifts are so appreciated and consistent monthly giving is absolutely amazing. The Lord is providing our needs, but it’s not without a strain.
Thankfully the Lord is using some surprising avenues for my family’s provision. For example, almost everything in North Carolina for which we have to pay is cheaper than it was in Wisconsin. Well, housing isn’t, but we’re not having to pay that. Anyway, however, food costs a lot more down here. I didn’t expect that.
Well, the Lord has connected us with some charitable institutions that have been providing weekly and monthly food assistance for my family.
So, like I said, the Lord is providing, and we’re excited to see what He’s going to continue to do.
If you’ve been watching our daily Bible study through James, then you can know that all of the Truth about how to respond in suffering has first impacted my life before I’ve shared it with you. I think it’s really providential how the “Parenting Suffering Children” series dropped right before the pandemic. The Lord knew what Truth we would need going into his situation, and I praise Him for equipping me to discuss that topic at this stage of my life and ministry and this stage of life in the world.
So, that kind of gets you caught up on where the Brewster family is now. God is good. He’s working, and we’re honored to be working along side Him.
Okay, don’t forget that we have free episode notes at TakingBackTheFamily.com. Those are available for anyone who follows TLP. Of course, we also have other exclusive resources for anyone who joins the TLP Family. And, if the Lord lays it on your heart to become a TLP Friend by giving to support TLP once a month, you can get yourself some free TLP products and services.
You should definitely check that out.
Alright, let’s talk a little about what we can learn from Al Mohler, Humpty Dumpty, and Aliens.
I’d like to start by reading sections of an article written by Al Mohler entitled “Humpty Dumpty, Alice in Wonderland, and the Masters Who Control the Language.” I’ll have a link in the description if you want to read the whole thing. This was also presented on his podcast, so I’m sure you can listen to it somewhere as well.
He starts out:
“Humpty Dumpty once said to Alice, ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean. Neither more or less.’ Alice responded to Humpty Dumpty, ‘The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things?’ Humpty Dumpty retorted: ‘The question is, which is to be master? That's all.’
“Yes, which—or who—is to be master of the language? That turns out to be one of the most crucial questions of the age.
“There is incredible wisdom and an embedded threat within that exchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty. If one is the master of language, then one controls the entire communication system and eventually the entire culture. To control the lexicon is eventually to control the meaning and indeed the entire worldview of a society. The worldview shapes the vocabulary, but make no mistake, the vocabulary shapes the worldview.”
We’re going to come back to this idea later in the show, but what follows is a singular example which illustrates this main point.
"Therefore, we have to take seriously an opinion piece published recently in The New York Times by columnist Farhad Manjoo with the headline, ‘It’s Time for ‘They.’’”
Mohler continues by quoting portions of Manjoo’s column. Basically, Manjoo considers himself to be a man, but still wants to go by “they” and “them” pronouns.
Dr. Mohler then offers a critique of Manjoo’s post: “Manjoo’s suggestion of a linguistic difference between the language used between the sheets and on the streets might be a bit clever, but it is much too clever when you consider what is really at stake here. What he is calling for is a revolution, not only in the language but in the morality and even the understanding of who human beings are.
“In the column, Manjoo spoke of those ‘traditional, uselessly gendered pronouns.’ Useless. That's very interesting. Is it important when we speak to one another that we speak to one another as male or as female? The honest answer would have to be, yes, often it is very important.”
Mohler than proceeds to prove from life and Scripture that it’s very important to retain the gendered use of pronouns. He then moves to Manjoo’s argument that anyone who has the ability to think would obviously conclude that gendered pronouns need to become extinct.
Mohler continues: “Manjoo writes as if this is probably inevitable. He says that many in the society are already adjusting to the singular, gender neutral ‘they.’ He says this makes the singular ‘they’ a perfect pronoun because, he says, ‘It's flexible, inclusive and obviates the risk of inadvertent mis-gendering. And in most circumstances, it creates perfectly coherent sentences that people don't have to strain to understand.’
“Farhad Manjoo claims that we would be morally superior if we did away with gendered pronouns and that there would be no real loss, but of course there’s an immediate loss. We really don’t know as much as we used to know about the person to whom someone is referring.
“When you speak about ‘they,’ referring to either a male or a female or what Manjoo calls a non-binary person, you really don't know as much as you knew when you referred to someone or heard someone referred to as he or she. There's a tremendous loss of meaning with the use of ‘they’ in that sense, but that’s actually the point. You can't bring about a moral revolution on gender if the language keeps showing up with those noisome gendered pronouns.
“But there is an even bigger problem here. ‘They’ is plural. It always has been plural, but now Manjoo and the gender revolutionaries are insisting that we should use ‘they’ in the singular.
“Speaking of the resistance to using the singular ‘they,’ he writes, ‘Institutions that cater to snoots generally discourage it. The Times, whose stylebook allows the singular ‘they’ when the person being referred to prefers it, warns against its widespread usage: ‘Take particular care to avoid confusion if using they for an individual’ the stylebook counsels.’
“Why would there be confusion? Well, because ‘they’ implies plurality. It implies more than one person. When you speak of ‘they’ in the singular, you begin to confuse the entire language system.
“Just consider this simple English sentence: They are drowning, we need to save them. The obvious response to that situation is to bring about lifesaving intervention. So, you save one person. Have we saved ‘them?’ No, one person is a he or a she. If we are told we need to save ‘them’ and we save only one, have we failed to save another who needed saving? The confusion becomes obvious. The confusion could be downright deadly.
“Manjoo goes on to say that he himself wants to be referred to with the singular ‘they.’ That is his own preferred personal pronoun.
“So, I pulled up the biography of Farhad Manjoo on the website of The New York Times. It just doesn't work. Just listen to how he is described.
“‘Farhad Manjoo became a Times Opinion columnist in 2018. Before that, they wrote The Times’ State of the Art column, covering the technology industry’s efforts to swallow up the world. They have also written for Slate, Salon, Fast Company and The Wall Street Journal. To their chagrin, their 2008 book, True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact World, accurately predicted our modern age of tech-abetted echo chambers and ‘alternative facts.’ Farhad Manjoo was born in South Africa and emigrated with their family to Southern California in the late 1980s. They live in Northern California with their wife and two children.’
“So here we have, in Manjoo’s official bio on the website at The New York Times, an individual who wrote ‘their book,’ moved with ‘their family,’ and who is married to ‘their wife.’ We should note that this ridiculous exercise only works because we actually do already know who he is.
“Manjoo continues by applying this genderless speech to his parenting.”
And this part I will read.
Manjoo says, “From their very earliest days, my kids, fed by marketing and entertainment and (surely) their parents’ modeling, seemed to hem themselves into silly gender norms. They gravitated to boy toys and girl toys, boy colors and girl colors, boy TV shows and girl TV shows. This was all so sad to me: I see them limiting their thoughts and their ambitions, their preferences and their identity, their very liberty, only to satisfy some collective abstraction.’
Mohler protests: “No, they weren't. These children weren't just responding to cultural or consumer impulses. They were responding to some deep knowledge within themselves. Even if the issue of color preferences related to male and female is an abstraction, the fact that even children want to clearly understand themselves as male and female is not an abstraction.
“Ron Meyers, who responded to Manjoo’s opinion in the letter section of a later edition of The Times, wrote, ‘The universal use of the singular ‘they,’ would compel all speakers to change virtually every sentence in deference to the half-percent of the population who identify as nonbinary. In the process, it would destroy ancient and universal linguistic distinctions of gender, and, much worse, the distinction between the singular and the plural, which is essential to linguistic clarity.’
“Here is something deeply essential to the Christian worldview: The Christian worldview begins with the self-existent God, the God who created everything and gave the gift of being. That is an actual objective reality to his creation. God, the Creator, gets to determine what the creation is and what the creation means.
“He made human beings linguistic creatures. We have the capacity for language. Our responsibility, according to the Christian worldview, is to order our language so as most faithfully to correspond to the reality that God has created. This is a moral responsibility, and it is a theological responsibility. It is also just a natural impulse because human beings, made in the image of God, given the gifts of consciousness and language, desperately do want our language to make sense and to be communicable and understandable. If our language becomes detached from reality, it becomes not only less linguistically useful, it becomes subversive of the very idea of communication.
“But note very carefully that this linguistic revolution is intentional. This is exactly what the moral revolutionaries and the gender revolutionaries are trying to bring about. If they do not change the language, they cannot change the contours of the worldview, and that's what they are determined to do. Our language will, if they succeed, no longer correspond to objective reality. It will instead correspond to their newly invented system of gender understanding, or we might say of gender misunderstanding, of confusion rather than of clarity, of self-deception rather than of truth.
“I am actually quite confident that the vast majority of human beings rightly consider sex and gender to be the same thing and that they will continue, even as an act of resistance, to use he and she and related ‘gendered’ language customarily and without irony.
“What we are facing in this society is not only a meltdown of meaning, but an intentional confusion. This is a revolution that is even now affecting the language, and is using language to affect the entire culture.
“That brings us back to Humpty Dumpty's claim that when he uses a word, it means just what he chooses it to mean, neither more or less. When Alice protests, asking how words can mean so many different things, Humpty Dumpty pulls the power card. He understood exactly what is taking place in American society in the 21st century.
“‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master? That's all.’
“That is the real question. Who gets to be the master of the language? Who determines, as master, what the language will be? Who determines what words must be used and how those words will be understood? Who determines what words can now not be used in order to come entirely in line with the new morality, the new mandates, the new linguistic rules, the new masters?
“But remember that in the literary tale, Alice is presented as the one who speaks sense and Humpty Dumpty as the one who speaks nonsense. But we're now living in an age determined to turn that story upside down.”
Last time we discussed how confusing it will be to our children if we don’t watch our language and use words the way God wants them to be used or speak of concepts the way He defines.
Today I want to look at the deleterious affect inaccurate language has on people.
Al Mohler said, “If one is the master of language, then one controls the entire communication system and eventually the entire culture. To control the lexicon is eventually to control the meaning and indeed the entire worldview of a society. The worldview shapes the vocabulary, but make no mistake, the vocabulary shapes the worldview.”
We could simplify all of that to say that how we talk controls how we think.
Most of us would have no problem understanding that how we think controls how we talk. Jesus said that everything that comes from the mouth proceeded from the heart. The “heart” was the ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic understanding of our inner man. Our inner man — the core of our being — is our spirit, and our spirit is what produces what modern scientists refer to as our mind.
Our words arise from our thoughts.
So, how can I suggest that our thoughts are controlled by our words?
Imagine with me, if you will, that you are learning your native language for the first time. Your mind is a blank slate. You have no linguistic ability to communicate what you think, and — if we’re being honest — your thoughts are as simple as instincts and emotions.
Eventually you learn to navigate basic subject/predicated formations, and are quickly introduced to your colors.
Your parents teach you the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. But that’s all they teach you.
But it doesn’t take long before you find the color green. And you start to wonder what color it is.
But your parents don’t believe it’s important to teach you any colors beyond red, blue, and yellow.
What is going to happen? Well, you’re going to start viewing all colors within the limited understanding of the primary colors. Your daily involvement with colors will be similar to the average person’s response to a tennis ball. Is it green? Is it yellow?
Well, if you’ve only learned about red, blue, and yellow, you would definitely call it yellow. In the same way, the green of one tree may also be lumped under yellow, but the deep green of an evergreen may look blue to you.
Eventually, like a colorblind individual, the beautiful panoply of colors will be constrained to three simple hues.
“Aaron, that would never happen. I would eventually realize that the new colors are different than the ones that made them and I would probably start calling them by a different name.”
Not if you lived in a society that only recognized three colors. Let me prove it to you.
When you look at frozen precipitation, you likely call it snow. You may use words like blizzard and flurry, but that has more to do with the amount of snow you’re seeing. Of course, there’s hail, but hail is merely ice that falls from the sky during warmer months versus snow that falls from the sky.
We can use adjectives to describe the snow. Some snow may be heavier and wetter while other snow may be more dry and grainy, but to most of us, it’s still snow.
That’s how the vast majority of us think. I’ve lived around snow my entire life, and that’s how I look at it. There’s no need for further distinction.
But, did you know that the Sami people who live far north of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia have over 180 words for snow.
I won’t try to pronounce any of them, but they have individual words to describe the following:
“A hard snowball”
“A cloud of snow which blows up from the ground when there is a hard frost without very much wind.”
“Very thin layer of frozen snow”
“Crust of ice on snow, formed in the evening after the sun has thawed the top of the snow during the day.”
“Loose snow or new snow”
“The kind of travel surface where frozen snow or ice breaks and cuts the legs of animals (like horses or reindeer)”
“Snowfield which has been trampled and dug up by reindeer”
“untouched winter snow without tracks”
“compact snow following mild weather”
“frost on the pasture”
“a layer of wet powdered snow”
“wet snow that sticks to everything”
“completely massive snow that’s not ice”
And the list goes on and on and on and on.
I’m going to argue that you do not have the ability to think of snow the way the Sami people do. Our vocabulary limits how we think about the subject.
I mentioned aliens at the beginning of the show. In the movie “Arrival” the heroine played by Amy Adams starts to perceive reality in a completely new way as she learns how to communicate in the native tongue of aliens who recently landed on earth.
It was an amazing sci-fi version of what we’re discussing here.
We can’t appreciate what it means to be saved if we don’t understand what sin is. We can’t begin to conceptualize what it means to serve our Creator if our language is dominated by nothing but independence, self-actualization, self-sufficiency, the American Dream, individualism, and entitlement.
People have literally lost the ability to understand that they were created to glorify God because their vocabulary prohibits them from thinking along those lines.
These ideas of linguistic theft and the defining of terms has the potential of making it impossible for your children to think biblically about life.
Who is the master of your family’s vocabulary? If God is not the master of your family language, then the world controls the entire communication system and culture in your home. When the world controls your family lexicon it controls the meaning and indeed the entire worldview of your family. This secular worldview will shape your family’s vocabulary, but make no mistake, this secular vocabulary also shapes your family’s worldview.”
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so Christian parents can start to understand how the world is stealing language away from God.
And if you need help with the specific dynamics of your home, please write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent God’s definition of Truth and God’s definition of love.
To that end, join us next time as we celebrate Easter by talking about war.
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