It is entirely normal for word usage to change over time as a language and culture evolves. This is one reason that most people today no longer use the older English translations of the Bible; they are written in a language nobody speaks in the 21st century. I mentioned in a post a few years ago that once upon a time I had a bunch of people in a Sunday School class who objected to the NIV being used in class, preferring instead the King James. I offered to teach the entire class from then on in King James English and we took a vote: King James English won the day, and the following week, I spoke only in 1611 English.
The people couldn’t follow very much, quickly became frustrated, and the point was made. A new vote was taken, and we returned to language they understood the next week.
Yes indeed, language can change over time… It is a natural progression. Yet it can also change for other reasons, reasons that are not so natural. This happens when language is changed for political reasons as a way to change social and cultural attitudes and norms, without running into opposition to what might have been considered radical change at some point. In our time, we have a name for this kind of change; we call it “political correctness”. Ever since this trend began back in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, I have been amazed that nobody seems to have noticed the word “correctness” in political correctness; where is the outcry at having an opinion forced upon us; aren’t we all entitled to have our own political opinions?
No, we are not, for there are some who reserve the right to determine which political opinions are “correct”, and that is hard to deny when that very word is in the title: Words mean things!
Political correctness requires that the meaning of certain words must change to fit the political narrative, and two such words are the words “tolerance” and “intolerance”. Here are the definitions of these words from the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary:
The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring
Here is the latest online definition from Merriam-Webster:
willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own
Did you catch the distinction between “endure” and “accept”? For me, this distinction becomes clearer when we look at the differences in the word “intolerance”, first the 1828 definition:
Want of toleration; the not enduring at all or not suffering to exist without persecution; as the intolerance of a prince or a church towards a religious sect.
Now the modern definition:
a reluctance to grant rights to other people
When I was a kid in school a half century ago, I was taught the meaning of these two words, I was taught to be tolerant of views that differ from my own, which required that I be respectful of others even when we disagree on something, or in the language of the school yard, you don’t get to beat them up if they are different than you… but you don’t have to agree either. Is that how the politically correct crowd understands this?
Hardly, for they are the most intolerant of all, but then why should that come as news to anyone; they are the ones who determine which opinions are “correct” and which are “incorrect”. The result of this “correctness” is a psychological phenomenon called “groupthink”. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. We can see the results of this all around us.
Believe it or not, I have actually heard Christians say that we must be politically correct; I’ve even heard this said in Sunday worship. Can anyone explain to me why Christians would submit to political correctness? If so, please leave a comment.
I guess this surprises me because it is NOT politically correct to even BE a Christian; signing onto political correctness strikes me as a sort of suicide pact.
I know that some might respond to this by calling me a “racist sexists homophobic pig”, for such is the normal intolerance of those who buy into this groupthink… so by all means, call me names in a comment (no four letter words that begin with “f” please).
For the rest of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we know the way of love, and we will reply with respect and kindness even though we might disagree, while reserving our right to hold on to our beliefs… just as Jesus would do.
Anybody want to discuss the repercussions of allowing the meaning of the word “gender” to be changed? How about the expressions “social justice” and “economic justice”? You see dear reader, many words and expressions have had their meanings changed over the last 30 years or so, and as a result, we are being torn apart as a Nation, and we aren’t the only ones.