Language Can Change the World

It is important to be aware of the principle that, as the American philosopher, Peter Kreeft, noted recently, ‘Control the language and you control thought; control thought and you control action; control action and you control the world.’ [1] In the last few decades there has been a covert emptying-out, and re-filling of certain key words with new meanings. This process subtly modifies how we perceive and deploy the original word, and also how we consider the matter to which it pertains.

The most obvious example is the term ‘partner’, which is now the only acceptable term in the public realm for ‘wife’ or ‘husband’. But far more is at stake here. Referring to a wife or husband as a ‘partner’ in effect neuters the concepts of ‘wife’ and ‘husband’, stripping them of the whole range of meanings, including those of sex, gender, permanence and sexual exculsivity. ‘Partner’ simply means ‘my present domestic (including sexual) VIP’. However, this meaning rides on the back of the traditional meanings associated with the words ‘wife’ or ‘husband’ and, in so doing, loosens the moorings of collective meaning and value which used to be attached to them. [2]

What does this mean? What is another example of the changing of the definition of a word? Consider the word “natural”

Let’s differentiate between two meanings of the word natural. The first … is ‘what we can infer from the design of Creation.’ The second is ‘anything that occurs in Nature’ … Whatever people do with these body parts can be termed ‘natural’ in that second definition, a label that appears to hallow whatever it touches. But there’s a problem. If ‘natural’ means ‘anything that happens’, there are absolutely no limits. Anything that anyone can think of doing with his sex organs has to be called natural. [3]

We must resist the re-defining of language. We already face a world where “unity” has been redefined as uniformity; where “dissent” has been called “intolerant” and where peace is defined as the absence of dissent.

The truth is that, as Adlai Stevenson said, “A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.”, and in trying to make themselves more popular the homosexual agenda has made us all less safe.

Evil people exploit good people by persuading them that it is wrong to call evil by its name. – James Hitchcock


[1] Peter Kreeft, Boston College Observer, April 2004

As a philosopher the thing that strikes me most is the brilliant strategy of the gay marriage movement. Like Orwell in 1984 it sees that the main battlefield is language. If [gay advocates] can redefine a key term like ‘marriage’ they win. Control language and you control thought; control though and you control action; control action and you control the world.

[2] Noland, Sugden & Finch, eds. God, Gays and the Church: Human Sexuality and Experience in Christian Thinking (London: The Latimer Trust, 2008), 234.

[3] Frederica Matthewes-Green, “Bodies of Evidence”, June 2005;

A Holy Person

  1. Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find his mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgement, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word….
  2. A holy man will endeavour to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have a decided bent of mind towards God, a hearty desire to do His will, a greater fear of displeasing him than of displeasing the world, and… will feel what Paul felt when he said, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Rom. 7:22)….
  3. A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith in Him, and draw from Him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labor to have the mind that was in Him, and to be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29). It will be his aim to bear with and forgive others … to be unselfish … to walk in love … to be lowly-minded and humble…. He will lay to heart the saying of John: "He that saith he abideth in [Christ] ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (1 John 2:6)….
  4. A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue. He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much, and be slow to talk of standing on his rights….
  5. A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labour to mortify the desires of his body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose… [Ryle then quotes Luke 21:34; 1 Cor. 9:27].
  6. A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness. He will endeavour to observe the golden rule of doing as he would have men do to him, and speaking as he would have men speak to him…. He will abhor all lying, slandering, backbiting, cheating, dishonesty, and unfair dealing, even in the least things….
  7. A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others…. Such was Dorcas "full of good works and almsdeeds, which she did"-not merely purposed and talked about, but did . . . (Acts 9:36).
  8. A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation….
  9. A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment and would be idle if he did not dread discovery. I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him….
  10. A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world….
  11. A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life. He will try, not merely to fill his place as well as others who take no thought for their souls, but even better, because he has higher motives and more help than they…. Holy persons should aim at doing every thing well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can help it…. They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbours, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides. The Lord Jesus puts a searching question to his people, when he says, "What do ye more than others?" (Matt. 5:47).
  12. Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness. He will endeavor to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand…. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of his people-these things will be the holy man’s chief enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God….

From Holiness by Bishop J.C. Ryle, published in 1879