The following article appeared in the Heritage College (SA) Newsletter on Wednesday 21 May under the heading “Message from the Principal”. We commend it to readers of all ages as a timely warning against one of the most subtle and dangerous trends in Western Society.

With the passage of time, words, spoken and written, change their meaning or drop out of use altogether. The prophet Isaiah speaks, however, of a time when there would be a deliberate move to change the meanings and usage of words related to good and evil. He speaks of a time when good would actually be called evil, and evil good. When things that would normally be thought of as being bitter would be called sweet; and things of darkness be made to sound as if they were of the light.

“Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

In his book The Closing of the American Mind, the author Alan Bloom, without apparent knowledge of the words of the prophet, makes the following amazing observation and statement.

“…this introduces us to the most important and astonishing phenomenon of our time, all the more astonishing in being almost unnoticed. There is now an entirely new language of good and evil, originating in an attempt to get ‘beyond good and evil’ and preventing us from talking with any conviction about good and evil any more. The language is that of Value Relativism, and it constitutes a change in our view of things moral and political, as great as the one that took place when Christianity replaced Greek and Roman Paganism. A new language always reflects a new point of view, and the gradual, unconscious popularization of new words, or of old words in new ways, is a sure sign of a profound change in people’s articulation of the world…Value relativism can be taken to be a great release from the perpetual tyranny of good and evil, with their cargo of shame and guilt, and the endless efforts that the pursuit of the one and the avoidance of the other enjoin.”

We are witnesses of this in our own time. How frequently we hear words that a few years ago bore an entirely different meaning. Words that once bore “the cargo of shame and guilt”, are now released into common vernacular as not only acceptable, but desirable!

A glance at our own school dictionaries here at the College illustrates the change of thinking. Look in a modern dictionary at a few words that are used today by young people, and the deliberate change is apparent.

wicked—1. morally bad

  1. mischievous or roguish
  2. troublesome or unpleasant
  3. slang very good

sick—1. vomiting or likely tovomit

  1. suffering from ill health
  2. mentally or spiritually disturbed
  3. slang terrific, great

wild—1. not domesticated

  1. growing in a natural state
  2. uninhabited, desolate
  3. living in a savage or uncivilized way
  4. of great violence
  5. intensely angry
  6. slang very enthusiastic, fantastic

See also: smart, obscene, massive, mean

The most blatant of all would  have to be gay. Look what our own school dictionary does with this word today!

gay—1. homosexual, lesbian, queer
2. animated,cheerful, glad, happy, merry
3. bright, brilliant, colourful, flamboyant
4. a female name.

The very first meaning this word has now, in a child’s School Dictionary, is a meaning that God calls sodomy, a frightful abomination for which He buried a city in salt for ever. That is what that practice is called by God and that is the word we ought also to use. To be gay is to be happy, cheerful and bright. No word ought ever to be allowed to cloud God’s estimation of this and other evils. To change the name and the meaning of a word is to try to remove “the cargo of shame and guilt”, says Bloom. How true that is.

We need to be on our guard with this shift in the use of language and draw it to the attention of our children. Look, by way of illustration, at the use of “wicked”. Yahweh says that He “will destroy the wicked” and that we are not to “walk in the way of the wicked”; we are to “hate every wicked way”; and that “the way of the wicked is an abomination to God”. “Wicked” in the Bible’s terminology is evil; but today “A wicked guy can drive a wicked car to a wicked party at a wicked nightspot with his wicked girlfriend and have a wicked time!” and that’s all great!!! Every bit of it!! It ought to be a warning. Beware of evil being made good.

Our speech can bewray us. It is a window upon the mind. The exhortation to sound speech is sufficient explanation for us and our children. Let us guard against the drift towards the absolution of God’s estimation of good and evil, bitter and sweet, light and darkness, and rather follow the exhortation of the apostle…

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6), and

“Having sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8).