Renaming something, including coining a new word to describe something, is common today. When people do this, they seem to be trying to accomplish one of several outcomes. First, they may be trying to make something old sound new. Second, they may be trying to convince us of a new angle on something old. Third, they may be trying to fool us into believing something new really has been discovered.

A recent article on polyamory – a relatively new word – attempted to do all these things. The word polyamory attempts to make something old sound new, offers a new angle on something old, and presents itself as a newly discovered ideal. But, alas, the article was only a creative writer playing the name game. Polyamory is a just a new word for an old concept – adultery.

Polyamory means having multiple sexual partners. The definitions of those relationships vary, depending on the people involved. The participants involved in these relationships admit they are complicated, but that doesn’t deter them from attempting to make them work in the pursuit of personal fulfillment and sexual pleasure. Renaming helps legitimize the behavior and soften the cultural resistance to accepting it.

Renaming something, like adultery, attempts to remove the negative connotations associated with the original word. Adultery is bad; not much discussion about that. The Ten Commandments and even the culture at large condemn adultery. An adulterer is a liar and a cheater – not ways anyone wants to be described.

Polyamorous partner sounds much more pleasant, and attempts to remove these negative undertones. But playing the name game doesn’t belie the unfaithfulness, betrayal, and resulting pain adultery causes. Making up a new word to describe an old concept doesn’t remove its sting or its stain.

Preachers and teachers make their living with words. Making up new words to salve emotional wounds, attempt to alleviate guilt, or soften convictions about sinful behavior is not helpful. Let’s use words that communicate plain meaning, and when necessary, allowing pain-inducing words to motivate us to change. Being honest, with truthful words, is the name of the game.

Prayer Sparks

Pastor Jon Varner shares what he learned developing a practice of combining his daily Bible reading and prayer.

Jon Varner
Lead Pastor
Jon Varner is the lead pastor at Valley View Christian Church in Kent, Washington.

Sobering

Life is short, heaven is long. Let’s live like it today.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Hope that Sustains

Part of your leadership challenge is maintaining hope. Doing so isn’t simply practicing a high level of spiritual denial.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.