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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The evolution of language

Words change!  It's a simple fact.  Reading the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible, or the works of Shakespeare, is more than enough to prove that point!

Even within my own lifetime, I have noticed changes.  Up until maybe ten years ago, those who were attending Primary and Secondary school were "pupils".  One only became a "student" when one entered tertiary education - in College or University.  Today, it would appear that anyone who is receiving an education is a "student"!  However, a student is one who studies; a pupil is one who is taught.  There is a difference.  Mind you, some of the reports that I hear concerning those seeking entrance to university degree courses, would suggest that the term "pupil" is the one that should now cover all!!

Staying with education, I am please to have been able to graduate, on more than one occasion.  To do so, I completed courses at universities that involved many hours of private study as well as attendance at lectures and seminars, with all of the necessary note-taking (and, later, deciphering!) that these involved.  Yet, over the past couple of years, I have seen newspaper photographs of children, resplendent in mortar boards and gowns, as they "graduate" from - Nursery School!

I was born on a Sunday.  As I grew up, I learned the little rhyme that ends "But the child who's born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe, and good and gay."   Now, I won't go into the fallacious use of the term "Sabbath" to refer to Sunday (it is, of course, Friday sunset until Saturday sunset!), but I was happy to be described as a "gay" person - and, indeed, in that sense of the word, I believe myself to be so!   However, I don't go around telling folk that "I'm gay" - that has a whole different connotation now!

I could go on, with words such as "conversation", "prevent", "let", "comprehend", and many more - words that have substantially changed their meaning since the days of the A.V. and Shakespeare.  So why is it that, along with so many others, I object to the current attempts by the governments at Holyrood and Westminster to redefine the word "marriage"?  

The first reason is that marriage is not just a word.  It is a relational concept.  It defines a specific relationship that has been accepted by, to the best of my knowledge, every culture in the history of mankind.  True, there have been, and are, cultures in which a man may have more than one wife; and perhaps even some in which a woman may have more than one husband.  But in every culture, in every generation, marriage has been between male and female - only!

The second reason is even more important.  Marriage, as between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, and for life, is ordained by God.  That is how it was from the beginning and, lest any doubt that it was so, Jesus makes direct reference to this when questioned by certain Pharisees with regard to divorce. (see Matt.19:3-12; Mk.10:2-12).

The redefining of some words may cause some confusion in conversation.  The redefining of marriage, if it is proceeded with, will bring confusion to society - as is already being experienced in those countries that have taken such a retrograde step.  Let those of us who support the traditional, God-ordained, concept of marriage remain faithful in prayer, and vocal in our support.

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