Did you know that the group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals has decided that fish should not be called fish any more? They are sea kittens. Sea kittens feel things and they love. And who would want to put a hook through a sea kitten? [I would]
Economist George Ure has been tracking the use of the word “bailout” as compared to “rescue package,” and sure enough, his prediction came true. It was only two months before the media’s use of rescue caught up to and then exceeded that of bailout.
What do bailouts and sea kittens have to do with Sanctity of Life? Because “All social engineering is preceded by verbal engineering.” This is a profound saying from Catholic moral theologian William Smith.
Changing the name of something helps to diminish attachment to it. Devalue it. Making a euphemism for it helps to conceal an unpleasant truth behind a nicer sounding phrase. Example: The Euthanasia Society became Society for the Right to Die. The Euthanasia Council became Concern for Dying. Death penalty has become capital punishment. A pre-born baby has become a fetus. An abortion has become terminating a pregnancy. A person is not pro-abortion, they are pro-choice.
These softening terms are purposely slipped into our vernacular. Many people don’t even notice our language is being manipulated. The phrase “all social engineering is preceded by verbal engineering,” recognizes that the mind is the first battlefield. This is Satan’s territory, the mind. As the late Rev. Adrian Rogers said so well, “Ephesians 6:12 tells us that there is a war going on, and it’s of a spiritual nature. Satan’s desire is to conquer and control your thought life and then make it a citadel from which he can war against God.” The battle first begins in the mind, and its weapons are words.
In Matthew 5:22, Jesus said, “But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire.”
Here, Jesus is emphasizing that murder begins before the act, it begins when people view others as less than human. Euphemistic language helps this transition of devaluation of the sanctity of life. When we begin seeing a baby as tissue, a comatose person as a vegetable, as a death row convict as an inmate undergoing capital punishment, thus begins the devaluing. Murder begins when people view others as less than human.
Today’s point is that I urge us all to be on guard mentally when we read or hear of terms that try to diminish the sanctity of life. The act of murder is actually a lengthy process, and it begins in the mind, with the words you choose to use to describe human life that God gave us.