A leaked Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) training video instructs staff to confirm that men can get pregnant and encourages them to refer to a pre-born baby as an “embryo” or “fetus,” to a “fetal heartbeat” as “embryonic or fetal cardiac activity,” and to a “mother” as a “veteran” or “person.”
When I saw the story, I then checked some other taxpayer-funded agencies for similar language. I found this statement on the National Institutes of Health website: “The term chestfeeding or bodyfeeding can be used alongside breastfeeding to be more inclusive” for “nonbinary or trans people.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website similarly includes COVID-19-related information for “pregnant and recently pregnant people” (not “women”). The website later refers to “people who are pregnant,” presumably in deference to pregnant biological women who do not identify as women.
The VA training video correctly states, “Language has a profound impact on what people hear and learn.” Therein lies my point today.
A pervasive four-part strategy
One of my persistent frustrations across decades of cultural engagement has been the degree to which our opponents have weaponized euphemisms in service to their various causes.
Early in the abortion struggle, for example, those of us who are “pro-life” were labeled “anti-abortion” while those who supported abortion were labeled “pro-choice.” Who doesn’t want to be for choice? And who wants to be “anti” anything?
Now our “pro-choice” opponents call themselves advocates for “reproductive justice” or “reproductive freedom” and caricature us as part of a “war on women.” Again, who doesn’t want to be for “justice” or “freedom”? Who wants to be part of a “war” on half the human population?
We can see the same strategy at work all around us. Euthanasia advocates are for “death with dignity.” Those of us who defend biblical sexual morality are labeled “homophobic” or “transphobic.” What started out as “gay pride” is now simply “pride.” The rainbow was co-opted from a biblical symbol of new life to a cultural symbol of “inclusion” that actually endorses and embraces destructive behavior.
As I have warned before, this is all part of a four-part strategy to normalize unbiblical immorality, legalize it, then stigmatize those who disagree and ultimately criminalize their disagreement. Where my warning may be misleading, however, is that these are not stages through which society progresses. We are ever in the normalizing phase as our opponents seek to indoctrinate new generations (thus Pride Month preschool cartoons, Legos and other “affirming” games, children’s books extolling same-sex parents, and so on). It’s not enough in their view to grant LGBTQ persons civil rights—we must agree with their ideology and actively promote their cause or we are dangerous homophobes and worse.
Lessons from pine trees
This theme has been on my mind because of a storm that blew through our area Sunday night. My wife Janet and I woke up Monday morning to shingles blown off our roof and branches scattered across the backyard. That was all repairable. Here’s what was not: a large hardwood tree was snapped over and lay sprawling across our front yard. However, the pine trees surrounding it, though they are much taller, escaped the storm with no damage.
This is for two reasons: they have deep roots, and their trunks are flexible. As a result, they can withstand gale-force winds by staying connected to the ground in which they are planted while bending rather than breaking in the storm. Pine trees are evergreen as well, shedding their needles only when they age and quickly replacing them.
All of this reminds me of the person who is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3). His secret? “His delight is in the law of the Lᴏʀᴅ, and on his law he mediates day and night” (v. 2). By contrast, “the wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away” (v. 4).
To yield “fruit in its season” with a “leaf” that “does not wither,” stay rooted in the word of God. Spend time every day “meditating” on it—the Hebrew word means to “ponder, ruminate, reflect upon.” Do this “day and night,” not just on Sunday and during brief devotional times.
When we do this, we give the Holy Spirit tools he can use in helping us to “understand the time” and know what our nation “ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). The more we immerse our minds in Scripture, the more we are able through the “powers of discernment” to “distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
Lessons from bank tellers
Think biblically, and you will act redemptively. And you will live a life God can bless and use with enduring fruitfulness in this world and the next. Like bank tellers in training who handle so much genuine currency that they can intuitively spot fakes, we are “transformed by the renewal of [our] mind” so that we can “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
In response to Jesus’ question, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46), Billy Graham wrote: “Always ask yourself these questions about your plans: ‘Can I ask God’s blessing on it? Can I do this to the glory of God? Or will this be a stumbling block to me or someone else?’
“Are you calling Jesus ‘Lord’ but not doing what he wants?”
How would you answer Dr. Graham’s question today?
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