By Jim Huskins
For most of our history, the foundations of the American education system were straightforward. We learned to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. We were encouraged to think clearly and logically. We were exposed to fundamental concepts in several sciences including biology, physics, and mechanics. We were introduced to world history with special emphasis on American history. Most importantly, we were expected to master proper use of the English language. The goal of this educational paradigm was to produce “good citizens.”
We have no shared understanding of “citizenship.” Those still interested in the concept refer to behaviors including voting, paying taxes, donating blood, displaying the flag, and reciting the pledge of allegiance. One of the classic expectations of a “good citizen” is the willingness and ability to be a net contributor to society. Teddy Roosevelt spoke of “pulling one’s own weight” while “respecting the rights of others.”
Actions are important, but with the perspective of age, I more than ever view citizenship—good or bad—as the inevitable expression of core convictions. People who think life is meaningless, or that they are owed reparation because they belong to a particular group, or that God or “fate” has cheated them, are not likely to devote themselves to the notion of “the greater good.” On the other hand, those who are grateful for their existence and grounded in what we have long understood to be “morality” will probably behave in ways that support strong families and communities. For at least 1500 years, the building blocks of both morality and sound social structure in Western Civilization have been gleaned from Judeo/Christian tradition.
But times change. Nothing I have said to this point any longer applies to “American life.” Over the course of an astonishing few years, traditional educational goals, traditional morality, and long-accepted standards of citizenship have been discarded. In their place, we find a revolting mishmash of perverse, self-indulgence; idolatrous, pagan worship practice; repudiation of constitutional liberties and responsibilities; and the aggrandizement of hatred. I am not alone in believing that this wholesale erasure of every value which long defined what it means to be an American is rooted in “spiritual wickedness in high places.” We are face to face with the unmistakable agenda of one who was long ago labeled the “father of lies.”
My opinion on “how” our society has been so quickly corrupted is less widely supported. I am convinced that we fell to the rapid onslaught of depravity partly because we failed to achieve one of those traditional, educational goals. We did not devote ourselves to mastering the proper use of the English language.
In proper English, words have meaning. Those skilled in the language will always be able to define “man” or “woman.” They will recognize the value of “innocence of youth.” They will understand essential concepts such as “freedom of speech” and “right to bear arms.” They will know that people who do not share their opinions are not necessarily “racists.” Those who use the language properly will never claim that certain ideas or political candidates should be suppressed because they would be “bad for democracy.” Proper use of the language promotes public discourse. Wholesale censorship replaces language skills with universal suspicion.
Proper English facilitates the awareness that unnecessary words obscure or subvert effective communication. I was taught by masters of the language that any word which does not expand or clarify one’s point should be dropped. For example, I offer one of the most common sentence structures in modern English: “What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna paint the house.” To what purpose is the phrase, “what I’m gonna do is?” Those words are redundant and obfuscating. The sentence should read, “I’m going to paint the house.”
One of the earliest and best examples of unnecessary words used to dismantle effective communication is found early in the Bible. In Genesis 2:16-17 God says to Adam, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” A few verses later we read, “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” The serpent established his argument on half-truths. He twisted God’s words in ways that caused doubt and led to disobedience.
Adam and Even did not cease breathing the moment they disobeyed, but they embraced the inevitable conclusion of entropy. They learned the difference between good and evil, but that knowledge came at an unimaginable and unpayable cost. We should not be surprised that the father of lies is still a liar. He told Eve exactly what it took to make her suspect that she was missing out on something important. He tells each of us those same lies. He is the master of using worthless words to encourage worthless actions.
Through His Holy Word, God always tells us exactly what we need to know. Exodus 31:13 is a prime example. The Hebrew text says, “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths for this is a sign between you and me throughout your generations.” Many modern believers prefer to follow manmade traditions rather than God’s clear teaching. They obscure God’s Word with worthless words including “just for the Jews” or “nailed to the cross” or “the Lord’s day.” Similarly, Jesus told us in Matthew 5:17 that He came to demonstrate perfect obedience to the Law and the Prophets. Many believers insist that He said He came to abolish the Law.
Worthless words are only useful for hiding truth or promoting lies. Anyone who is interested in recognizing and proclaiming truth should learn the subtleties of proper English. Not all of us need to be students of Hebrew or Greek, but every believer should learn to recognize word fraud.
Obedient Heart Fellowship meets each Sabbath (Seventh Day) at 2460 US 221 Business N. Marion, NC. 10:00 A.M. 828-460-7913
Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship in McDowell County. Beginning July 2, 2022 Obedient Heart Fellowship will meet at 10:00 Each Sabbath (Seventh Day) in space graciously shared by New Covenant Church in Christ. 2460 US 221 Business N. In Marion, NC. Call for info. 828-460-7913. You can read more good Christian news from Jim HERE.