Nomenclature Matters

“Look at that gorgeous Geranium!” I exclaimed this morning, as my beloved Yard Boy and I walked through the garden.

“It’s a daffodil, sweetheart. Why are you calling a geranium?” he asked. Good question. He knows I am a stickler about calling plants by their correct names. I’ll even use the Latin name for it if I know it, so there won’t be any confusion.

“Because that’s the name of this particular cultivar — Geranium,” I answered. “It’s a silly name, but I didn’t name it. It’s really an old heirloom variety, but that really is the actual name.”

This was memorable to me, as I had surprisingly won a prize for one from this very clump only two years ago at the National Daffodil Convention. On the other hand, I couldn’t remember the name of the pretty two-toned “Casetta” daffodil for a week after it began to bloom. 

Other plants have lost their tags and will never have an identity. They might be labeled “Purple iris from Tiffany.” Still others were hybrids which never did get a name from their hybridizers. They still get an honored place in my garden!

In other realms, names seem to matter a little more. A world leader has recently come under fire for calling the Covid-19 pandemic the “Chinese virus.” Unlike the “Geranium” in my garden, it was a descriptive term, not an official one. 

In still other cases, the words we use can mean all the difference in the world….and yes; even beyond this world.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20, NASB).

One example of this is when the killing of millions of unborn babies is applauded, celebrated, and even rewarded by public figures saying “God bless Planned Parenthood!” Women are told to “shout your abortion” as if it was something of which to be proud.

Another example is calling unholy unions, which are clearly condemned in Scripture, as “love.” No, you can’t tell somebody who they can love, and indeed we are to love all mankind. But you can certainly follow God’s direction on who you can and cannot have intimate relations with! The two are not the same.

To call something “love” that God calls “sin” is  unconscionable. Make no mistake, God will judge not only those who sin, but those who give “hearty approval” to those that do (Romans 1:32). 

To be clear, the first chapter of Romans not only condemns homosexuality (verses 26 and 27), but also gossip and boasting (verses 29 – 31) among other things. When was the last time you heard of a “Gossip Pride” parade, though? How about a special flag for deceivers? Do theme parks set aside a special day for those who are “disobedient to parents?” Of course not.

We don’t give that hearty approval (v.32) to those who are murderers. Unless, of course, we call murder “a woman’s choice.” 

Yes, words matter. 

Let’s let Jesus have the last word.  “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

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