“At approximately 8pm last night, an alleged gun carrying citizen removed two restaurant patrons from their seated positions as they enjoyed dinner. The man, acting of his own free will, chose these individuals based on personal preference and with no desire to cause harm to the other guests in the establishment. The two selected patrons are sadly no longer in attendance at the restaurant and unfortunately will not visit in the near future. The owner is saddened by the absence of his customers. The citizen will be charged with cessation of physical functioning of others.”
Of course such a story would result in the immediate dismissal of the reporter and a quick retraction by the new outlet. The words “shooter”, “murdered”, “killed”, or anything of the sort were purposefully excluded lending a sort of neutrality to the details of the event. The man murdered two individuals in a place where attendants should feel safe from such acts of violence.
Words have meaning and direct words are meant to portray a direct meaning. But some fellow Christians believe certain words which define particular acts should not be used. Such is the position of Karen Swallow Prior, a Professor of English at Liberty University and Religious Fellow with the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
In her article “Loving our Pro-Choice Neighbors in Word andDeed” she states “…referring to abortion providers as ‘abortion ghouls’, clinic volunteers and words a ‘deathscorts’ or ‘bloodworkers’ and women who obtain abortions as ‘murderers’ is worse than inflammatory: it is unchristlike”. She quotes Proverbs 18:21 and 12:18 to support the carefully selection of words as her basis.
Our speech is to be carefully guarded but she misses the importance of calling sin and those who commit it by the correct terms. One wonders if she may have a Bible translation that excludes the following passages:
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” –Matthew 3:7 (spoken by John the Baptist)
“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” –Matthew 12:33 (spoken by Jesus Christ)
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” –Matthew 23:33 (spoken by Jesus Christ)
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires.” –John 8:44a (spoken by Jesus Christ)
“among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” –Ephesians 2:3 (spoken by the Apostle Paul)
What of the word “murderer” that Karen Prior says we should refrain from when defining abortion?
“But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death.” –Numbers 35:16
Direct words have an intentional impact because they are labeling the actions or character of the person who is being addressed. Karen Prior has allowed her understanding to be altered by the worldly definition of “hate”. To call someone who knowingly, willingly takes the life of another human a murderer is not hateful…it is correctly labeling them based on their action.
Likewise, to call abortion murder and those who perform such murders is not hateful.
Words such as “deathscorts” and “aborutaries” (a term she did not use) are modern slang to identify what self-titled clinics and volunteers are actually engaged in. By using titles such as these they are being deceitful by hiding the reality of what occurs within the clinic walls.
Intentionally inflammatory rhetoric is not in question here. Such language should be addressed. But “calling a spade a spade” is just an attempt to correctly identify, define, and label what has been sugar—coated and guarded by the unregenerate world for so long. For any professing Christian to say otherwise is for them to cater to their rhetoric of the world and lack true love for their neighbor by calling out sin and declaring salvation in the Savior.
Until the whole world hears,