The Truth About the Lie
“Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination. I'm not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.”
~ George Carlin
“Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.”
What could the extreme left wing and vulgar comedian George Carlin possibly have in common with the courtly and academic free market Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises? The two quotes above, the first by Carlin, and the second, a line from the Aeneid that von Mises adopted as his personal motto ("Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it") both apply to our situation as the church today, being a counterculture that is under relentless pressure to conform ideologically to the dominant secular worldview.
As another leftist George, George Orwell, taught in not only his novels 1984 and Animal Farm, but also in his essays devoted to political language and thought control, the key to securing conformity is to control the use of language.
And this is what political correctness is all about: the manipulation of language to control thoughts.
The church speaks an ancient language: not Latin or Greek, but rather the language of reason and revelation. She has a message to proclaim, and that message is embedded in words. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Λόγος (Logos) (St. John 1:1), the very Mind and Word of God by whom all things were made (v. 3, also Gen. 1:6). Words are holy things, sacramental in a sense, for in them thoughts are encoded and transported, thoughts that come from the mind of men, and the accuracy of a word is related to its veracity ("Dicit ei Jesus: Ego sum via, et veritas, et vita." St. John 14:6). God built the universe on truthfulness. It is the lie and the father of lies that has brought us to sin and ruin, requiring veracity to be commanded to us (Ex. 20:16) rather than being as natural as eating the perfect fruit from the tree and speaking to God face to face.
For centuries, the Christian worldview - along with its emphasis on Natural Law and divine order in the universe, informed the vocabulary of western civilization. It was taken for granted that there is an objective truth, that words have meaning, and that speech and thought that conform to reality is the hallmark of both sanity and wisdom.
But even as the serpent convinced the woman "You can be like God" and convinced men to deny reality and defy God's created order, fallen humanity continues to eagerly listen to the serpent's lisp and hiss, falling for the ancient canard that "You will not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). That one little word (not) would fell mankind. That single לא (Lo) negates and denies the word and the Word. With the first syllable (Lo) of the Greek (Logos), Satan began a confusion of tongues and minds.
Words are important. We should be loathe to change the words we use. Yes, language does evolve. Even reading an original 1611 King James Bible can be tough going, let alone getting through Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon. But we should stand by our conservative instincts to not give in to the evil of compelled linguistic evolution. And we should resist the urge to signal our virtue by striving to be the first kid on the block to use the trendy new word while clicking our tongues at the unenlightened who still use the old words.
When I lived in Philadelphia, the great economist Walter Williams (George Mason University) used to regularly appear as part of a panel discussing current events. Dr. Williams is notably conservative and black. He was often paired up against the journalist Claude Lewis, who took a much more leftward view of things than did the very tall and jovial Williams. On one occasion, the other fellow referred to Williams as "African American." Williams quickly interjected, "I'm not African American" with that gleam in the eye and little chuckle that he displayed when tweaking his opponent. He said that when he was growing up, he was "colored," then he became "black," then "Afro," and then "African American." Dr. Williams said, tongue in cheek, "I decided to stop at black."
Often, political correctness deals with race - as this is a hot-button political issue. The word "Oriental" - based on the Latin word for "east" - seems to be okay when used for Oriental rugs, sometimes for Oriental salads (which are becoming harder to find), but certainly not for Oriental people ("That's problematic!" they say). There is an Oriental Orthodox Church, and calling it the Asian Church or the Eastern Church just wouldn't work. We have a restaurant in New Orleans called the Oriental Triangle. But I suppose if I were to tell them that their name is "problematic!", that too would be "problematic!".
"Indian" is another one. Of course, Indian is okay for people from India, but no longer okay for American Indians, or Native Americans (of course, I was born in America, so...), or Indigenous Peoples, or whatever the au courant term is these days. And that is part of the problem: we are constantly off-balance as to what words have been blessed as "appropriate" and what words are anathematized as "problematic!". Younger people encountering the word "Indian" in works of literature may be confused if all they have ever said was "Native Americans" or some such. Of course, playing "Cowboys and Indians" is probably "problematic!" anyway, so maybe it won't be an issue.
As sports teams and mascots and logos representing various tribes ("problematic!"?) disappear, and as Boy ("problematic!") Scout rituals and other tributes to their courage, bravery, and tenacity fade away, perhaps these people groups will simply be forgotten, no longer respected or despised, just faded into obscurity. That would be a shame. Unintended consequences and all that.
The other big area where political correctness keeps us in a constant state of linguistic and cultural unbalance is sexuality. Forms that used to have two boxes for "sex" changed to two boxes for "gender." And now, "gender" is fluid and analogue. Facebook used to offer a selection of 71 gender options, even the geniuses that tell us how to think couldn't keep up with "science" - and now simply offer users the option to type in anything for gender, such as "cane toad" and "mashed potatoes." Your imagination is the limit. "You can be like God..."
Interestingly, the idea of gender as opposed to sex makes sense when it comes to God the Father. For He has no corporeality. And yet He is "Father." The Fatherhood of God is truly a matter of gender, as opposed to sex. And at the same time, the divine gender is not a social construct, but rather grounded in ontology, for God the Father is indeed the biological Father of the Son, Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ is male in sex (some modern theologians' and commentators' objections notwithstanding). For evidence, you need not look further than St. Luke 2:21. Jesus is the Son of God, who has taught us to pray "Our Father" (St. Matt. 6:9). Some moderns, including some who bear the name "Lutheran", would rather God be feminine. So they simply say the word, and it is apparently so ("Fiat Femina!"). You see, "you can be like God!" There is that lisp again.
The Episcopal Church (sic) is lobbying for a new and destroyed Book of Common Prayer, knowing that the liturgy teaches and shapes confessions by means of words (lex orandi, lex credendi). The big push behind the new service book is changing attitudes toward same-sex sexual attraction and a desire to assume God's gender. Scripture's clear teaching of opposite sex marriage and the divine masculine have fallen out of favor with many in the Anglican world (with some conservative Americans and African bishops, dioceses, and parishes dissenting, good for them!).
It seems that new editions of classic books are being censored for political correctness, which has a whiff of the Memory Hole about it. For where does the editing process stop? Will Huck Finn appear in multiple universes with radically different storylines to account for a female Huck, a homosexual Huck, a black Huck, or a Huck with a penchant for sex robots? This is a common technique in the world of comics and movies, in which the writers, and even the readers "can be like God." I suspect that many in the bureaucracy of the various church denominations don't really believe in God, and so what difference does it make if we do a Bible reboot in line with current politically correct sensibilities and changing moralities. It's not like it's actually true, or anything...
But what about our Missouri Synod? Surely, we won't succumb to political correctness?
Well, perhaps being sensitive to the charge that we're "misogynists" for not ordaining women and for upholding the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, we will put them in stoles and call them deacon. Perhaps afraid of being called homophobic, we'll have university presidents praise the "diversity of gender identity and sexual orientation" on our campuses. In fear of being called "racist" - a preposterous and ridiculous canard - we'll read hand-wringing essays about our church body being "too white" and "not doing enough to combat racism." How can we be "too white"? Are Kenyan Lutherans "too black"? We are who we are. Most of us have European roots, and that translates into a paucity of melanin in our skin. Why is this "problematic!"? Why are we treating people like beans to classify and count instead of individual souls in which race should not count for anything? Why do we have separate institutions for black Lutherans? Why do we give assent to the popular new intersectional dogma that whiteness is akin to some kind of disease? Why isn't that "problematic!"? No human being should be ashamed of his skin color or sex. He is as God has made him, "When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them" (Gen. 5:1-2).
I believe we should stop playing Satan's game ("You can be..."). Reality is reality. A is A. We are not God. We need to speak with clarity that human beings are endowed with "sex", and to clearly say that "gender" is a grammatical term. We need to stop jumping on the LGBTQWERTY bandwagon, adding a new undefinable letter to this ridiculous acronym in a vain desire to prove to those who hate us that we're not homophobic and "problematic!". Maybe we need to jump off of the PC merry-go-round like Walter Williams and stop changing the names of ethnic groups and sexual fetishes. We need to use humor and science to actively combat this linguistic game of whack-a-mole and recognize it for what it is: tyranny. We need to make sure our homes are filled with classic books and we need to read them. We especially need to refuse to accept new "gender-neutrification" of our Bible translations and service books.
We need to be firm, while being polite and compassionate at the same time - insofar as we're able. We will have to be innocent as doves and wise as serpents (St. Matt 10:16) in this regard. We need to understand that we are being culturally manipulated, as are our children. There need to be lines that we simply will not cross, linguistic or otherwise, not even for politeness, not even to "appeal to youth," and certainly not out of cowardice.
We need to understand that political correctness is indeed "fascism pretending to be manners" and we need to recognize the evil behind it ("You can be like God!"), and not just recognize the evil, but to audaciously contradict it - in word and in deed.