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Homosexual rights activists gain influence in public schools (10/17/04)

Church’s prayer births children’s ministry (10/17/04)

Partner program revitalizes dying church (10/10/04)

Church music festival attracts variety of visitors (10/10/04)

Churches urge compassion for alienated smokers (9/19/04)

Youth ride wooden waves in church parking lots (9/12/04)

A/G, COGIC join forces through inner-city campus (9/12/04)

Christians respond to victimized women and children (8/29/04)

Growing slavic church shares new facility (8/29/04)

Couple embarks on capitol prayer tour (8/29/04)

ADHD requires multifaceted treatment approach (8/22/04)

Small congregation grows — by planting churches (8/22/04)

‘Under God’ stays in Pledge of Allegiance, at least for now (8/8/04)

Church reaches out to those feeling loss (8/8/04)

Churches act pre-emptively to reduce risk of abuse (7/25/04)

Credit cards ensnare record number of Americans (7/25/04)

Church helps out with donated CD, recycled buses (7/25/04)

New wave of pastors minister to emerging adults (7/18/04)

‘Walking Witnesses’ raise thousands for missions (7/18/04)

Healing center offers alternative medicine (7/18/04)

Growing number of Hispanics impact economy (7/11/04)

'Busy' couple finds time for compassion ministry (7/11/04)

Hand-copied Bible leaves 40-year legacy (7/11/04)

Pastor ends hunger strike when strip club promises to sell (6/27/04)

‘Military survival kit’ requests inundate A/G (6/27/04)

Fourth of July outreach draws thousands (6/27/04)

Drivers warned to steer clear of distractions (6/27/04)

Pastors face more counseling demands (6/20/04)

Church uses touch of ‘flavor’ to reach community (6/20/04)

Outrageous self-expression often starts, stops at home (6/13/04)

Runner raises $5,200 for Convoy of Hope (6/13/04)

Euphemisms tempt Christians to conveniently shed sin, guilt (5/30/04)

Funds for Easter play buy groceries instead (5/30/04)

Identity theft threatens millions of Americans (5/23/04)

Spanish speakers face challenges, opportunities in United States culture (5/16/04)

Health experts implore Americans to get fit (5/9/04)

Leaders say Christian faith stems recidivism (4/25/04)

Riders feel at home in Orlando sanctuary (4/18/04)

Churches try to keep human touch with new media (4/11/04)

Christians see Passion as ministry opportunity (3/28/04)

Tutoring improves lives, opens doors for evangelism (3/21/04)

Cybertheft costly — especially for Christians (3/14/04)

A/G women seize new ministry opportunities (2/29/04)

Investment in early spiritual maturity reaps rewards (2/22/04)

Christian families respond to foster care opportunities (2/15/04)

Childless couples grapple with emotional roller coaster, faith challenges (2/8/04)

Few men seek help from abortion grief, guilt (1/18/04)

Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

2003 PE Report stories

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Euphemisms tempt Christians to conveniently shed sin, guilt

By John W. Kennedy (5/30/04)

Certainly the notion of sin isn’t discussed much in society anymore. But now the very terms for sinful activities, much of them involving sexual immorality, are disappearing from common language.

Pornography? That’s “adult” entertainment.

Abortion? It’s really about “choice.”

Adultery? Affair sounds more exotic.

Fornication has long been treated as an outdated term in modern language, but for many people the very concept of premarital sex is somewhat vague. If there’s a news story on teenagers and sex, usually the qualifying word mentioned is “unprotected.”

How do such euphemisms affect Christians? Gary R. Allen, Ministerial Enrichment national coordinator for the Assemblies of God, says wider acceptance is the result when Christians don’t define immorality as sinful.

“When cultures and fads change, we mislabel the core of deadly sin,” says Allen, 58. “If you take the barbs off barbed wire, eventually it doesn’t hurt to go through the fence.”

At the same time as biblical notions of sin have been altered, God is being removed from the public square, both legally and metaphorically. Recently, numerous Ten Commandments displays have been dismantled from in front of county courthouses and crèches removed from city parks.

Christmas vacation at public schools is now referred to as winter break. During the Christmas shopping season last year, a growing list of retailers — including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Home Depot — advised employees to offer customers a happy holiday rather than a merry Christmas.

Charlie Self of Bethel Church of San Jose, Calif., sees a danger of such amended language causing a society to forget God and to lapse into moral degeneracy as described in Romans 1:18-32. “By the end of the process, people actually are advocating what they know is contrary to the original version of truth,” says Self, 45, education pastor at the Assemblies of God church.

Self cites Playboy founder Hugh Hefner as a ringleader in transforming the nation’s thought processes. Half a century ago Hefner found a new name, sexual liberation, for an old sin pattern — lust. While initially denounced as a degenerate rebel, Hefner in many quarters now is revered as a visionary pioneer. In fact, those who hold to the traditional sanctity of marriage are often berated for being intolerant.

The same pattern is evident this year with the homosexual marriage trend. Those standing up for moral absolutes are criticized as repressive, as if a union between a man and woman is somehow outdated.

While Christians should avoid language that whitewashes sinful behavior, Allen and Self say believers need to avoid inflammatory statements as well when debating non-Christians. “Christians shouldn’t go out of their way to be hostile,” Self says. “If you call two homosexuals who are living together ‘sodomites,’ it builds a barrier.”

Likewise, rather than “baby killer,” some advise Christians to use the neutral term: abortionist.

Perhaps more than any other behavior, the rhetoric of abortion since its legalization 31 years ago has been an agent for changing perceptions.

Some Christians have been convinced that a compassionate position is to say they wouldn’t have an abortion personally, but they support the right of others to choose for themselves.

“This generation of Christians is the first to find something good in what God has condemned,” says author-lecturer Jean Staker Garton of Benton, Ark. “Scripture is clear. Church history is clear. The taking of innocent, unborn life is an abomination to God.

“Intelligent, educated, religious people embrace illogical absurdities that set aside not only God’s truth, but also our responsibility for the well-being of others,” Garton, 75, told PE Report. “When you shine the light of common sense on deceptive language couched in medical, philosophical or intellectual terms, the logic evaporates. Moral choices require that we use language to describe reality.”

Garton fell into believing the false messages in 1969, when, pregnant with her fourth child, she decided to obtain an abortion. She accepted such feminist concepts as every child should be a wanted child and every woman should have a right to choose. But back then, before Roe v. Wade, she couldn’t find an abortionist. Garton had the baby, but also joined an abortion-rights group. There she learned doublespeak, to never give any humanity to the baby in the womb.

Concerned, Garton — who at the time taught college students the power of political and advertising rhetoric — did a systematic search to see what Scripture says about unborn life. She repeatedly found in the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Paul’s epistles that God’s personal call happened before birth.

“When words are warped and twisted perversely, they’re eventually emptied of their true meaning,” Garton says. She asked the Lord’s forgiveness, and became an outspoken critic of Roe v. Wade in an era when few Protestant churches paid much attention to the issue.

Garton co-founded Lutherans for Life and in 1979 wrote Who Broke the Baby?, which describes the deceptive language used in the abortion movement. A 1998 update of the book discussed new catchphrases such as “Abortion is a private matter” or “Abortion is between a woman and her God.”

“The euphemisms haven’t changed that much,” Garton says. “We think we’re tolerant by not imposing our morality on others. But by believing it’s a woman’s choice we’re abdicating any personal responsibility.”

Euphemisms do affect how Christians react to sin. Long before “wardrobe malfunction” entered the American lexicon at this year’s Super Bowl, groups began replacing terms for what the Bible denounces as sexual perversion.

Particularly while trying to legitimize sexual sin, businesses go overboard in obscuring reality. Strippers are now called exotic dancers. The seedy connotation of strip joints has been replaced with the upwardly mobile gentlemen’s clubs.

Taken to a ludicrous extreme, pedophiles, in an effort to decriminalize their behavior, now substitute the phrase intergenerational intimacy.

Advocacy groups choose acronyms that belie their meaning. For instance, GLAD stands for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders while NORML represents the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“Such euphemisms lead us to a form of intellectual suicide about which the Scriptures speak,” Garton says. “Paul admonishes us to guard the truth and hold fast to words which are sound” (2 Timothy 1:13,14).

Watering down language has a tremendous impact on the attitudes of the next generation, according to Allen. “As Christians, do we still flinch at foul language, or has it become familiar and acceptable?”

Self agrees. “The fastest way to clean up the public square is to have people who profess moral and religious values actually live that way,” Self says. “We have to again become powerful persuasion evangelists of the truth.”

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