How blessed am I that my turn in this rotation falls at a time when a large portion of our society is focused on Valentine’s Day, and that our daughter is willing and able to give me advice. This certainly allows me to narrow in on a topic for this installment. My thoughts are not on Valentine’s Day, but rather what the words ”Valentine’s Day” supposedly celebrate.
Maybe, what we have done with the word “love” is part and parcel responsible for the state of our world today. The word “love” is defined in Webster and Holman dictionaries as, “Unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the well-being of another.” Tough paraphrased, this definition most clearly describes a relationship, and especially the focused attention of one party toward another.
Nowhere in this definition does one recognize place for, say, a cheeseburger. Yet, the meaning of the word “love” has been watered down to be applied to the inanimate. Is it any wonder relationships fall apart so often; when we use the same word to express how we feel for our spouse as we do for a ’57 Chevy.
There once was a time when a man’s word stood for something more than a fleeting expression. Yes, I am now speaking about more than a definition for clear context. We have permitted the flippant retort, “You know what I meant” to our question of word choice to cheapen the meanings of our words and eventually the expectation that persons choose wisely their words.
Instead of expecting people to use discipline of word choice, we now simply add definitions to words based solely on numbers of times the word is used in that context; and words in general simply because of the number of times they are used. The fact of the matter is that now we truly do not “know what they are saying” because in all actuality, neither does the speaker. They can say they “love a particular program” because they really do not know the meaning of the word, love.
Remember the adage, “A man’s word is his bond.” This idea speaks not of definition in word meaning, but definition of character. Herein lies another major player in the demise of our times and in our view of Valentine’s Day. We have watered-down more than our communication; we have watered-down our moral character.
An easy place to test this truth is in the institution of marriage. The divorce rate in the United States in 2018 was approximately 42-45 percent, and in 2019, the reports are between 40-50 percent. There was a time when the vows two people took were the bond that caused them to work hard to make amends rather than court dates. The divorce rate for the year I was born was bad enough at half the rate of 2018. The adage used to mean that if a man said he would be somewhere; there he would be; not to leave another in a lurch for a sudden change of mind or personal desire. A man’s accountability and commitment were as important as the meaning of his words.
Because every journey begins with a first step, let us make this Valentine’s weekend a first step of a new journey. A journey or movement of understanding and sacrifice restoring the idea that our word is our bond and the words we use truly convey the message we want understood.
Let us take the word “love,” learn the true definition and begin to use that word only in the context of that definition. Then, each day seek to share that definition with all the persons that are part of our lives to the full and proper perimeters of each relationship.
If you need guidance and help in this journey, there is no better help than the New Testament Scriptures. The King James version of the Scriptures uses the word “charity” instead of “love,” where Paul uses the term “agape.”
Charity comes from the Latin and means “dearness,” “affection” and “high regard.” Today, charity is normally used for acts of benevolence. So, you see, if everyone would practice the afore mentioned in each of their relationships (a relationship is any encounter you have with another human being), we would go a long, long way toward healing wounds and building bonds that will lift our spirits and relationships, thereby strengthening our society.
Written and submitted by Robert Henry, Senior Minister of Living by Faith Ministries, Member of Pickaway County Ministerial Association.