17 min read“Messy” Is a Lie (And Other Obnoxious Euphemisms)

Nov 30, 2017 | Article | 4 comments

If I hear the word “messy” one more time I might explode. On my list of things I have no patience for, “messy” sits squarely next to Debi Pearl. Floors are messy. Unorganized desks are messy. Fingerpainting with a two-year-old is messy. Bratty college kids’ dorm rooms are messy. You are not messy. You are a sinner.

And so, when you peruse Evangelical Facebook and Evangelical Twitter and Large-Evangelical-Blog-Sites, often what you come across is a euphemism from the pit of hell to describe the state of sin we all experience. The Old Testament describes sinners as having the poison of asps under their lips and having throats that are like open tombs (try imagining the smell of that real quick) and here we are like, “I’m just so messy, teehee! Join me in acknowledging your messiness! Isn’t it great? Let’s all be messy together!”

It’s convenient, isn’t it? After all, messy can be winked at. I wink at my four-year-old when she forgets to pick up her crayons after a solid hour of drawing suns and swingsets. A messy sink full of dishes is a reminder that we had food, that we ate together—all things to be thankful for. Messy is not inherently right or wrong. But sin is a pit of destruction. Sin is an offense to a holy God. Sin sets you on a path squarely to eternal damnation. Sin nailed the Son of God to a cross. Substituting “messy” for “sin” and calling it a euphemism is euphemistic. Chew on that one for a sec.

There are a few ideas that I am completely sold on. Shoes shouldn’t be worn inside. Hot coffee being poured over ice doesn’t make iced coffee. Fruit doesn’t belong on pizza. Communism is the worst. We should use biblical language. You know, these are basic truths when you think about it. But we live in a postmodern world, and language is a battlefield. The more we insist on softening biblical language so as not to offend, the more ground we will lose. The ones preaching the gloriousness of sharing in each other’s “messiness” are the ones that have given up the ghost. They aren’t the ones storming the tower. They’re the ones smoking a cigarette in the trench because what’s the big deal about taking the tower, anyway?

The word “sinner” has lost its place in decent conversation and it’s one of the most indecent things I have seen preachers, teachers, and bloggers do as of late. Language matters and here’s why. You do not have to repent from being messy. If you are messy, hire a maid, buy a vacuum, take a course on how to be organized. Or don’t. Not all messes warrant spiritual concern. However, if you are a sinner, there is nothing you can do but find a savior. When you give up sin for a euphemism, you lose the need for repentance. You lose the need for a savior. You lose categories that the world wants us to lose—like God’s holiness, justice, and wrath. Why on Earth would God send a messy person to Hell, anyway?

So maybe I’m just getting disagreeable in my old age or maybe trading in Biblical language for more world-friendly euphemisms is a lazy, devil-may-care attitude that far too many of us are willing to fall in to in order to maintain a level of perceived friendliness to the world. I mean, if being blunt about your messy means you are just full of moxie, it’s actually kinda charming, ain’t it?

I cannot imagine that anyone under Paul’s teaching would confess their sins to each other like this: “Friends, I am a beautiful mess. I have made a mistake, because like everyone else here, I am authentically broken. God is tracing my scars with his fingers and putting me back together again. Please forgive me of my messiness towards you.”  I could do without that kind of self-righteous apology, couldn’t you?

It is true that we are broken, but that is because we are sinners. And it is true that sin can make a real mess of things, but that is because sin has marred every inch of creation. And your authentic self? Well, it’s pretty bad. So bad that Christ had to die a terrible, torturous death for it. You make mistakes, sure. But missing an exit on the way to grandma’s house is not the same as lusting after your neighbor. Using Biblical language will make all of these proper and necessary distinctions for you. It’s pretty great and I think we all should try it.

The problem of language ties in to a myriad of issues Christianity is facing today, and we are losing ground in some instances. If you ask most Christians with a biblical view on marriage what’s wrong with legalizing “same-sex marriage,” they will tell you it’s because homosexuality is wrong. That’s true. But let’s start with the fact that marriage has already been defined by God, and marriage can only be between a man and a woman. To include any other set of persons within that frame (woman/woman, man/woman/woman, man/daughter, so on it goes) would be to redefine marriage altogether. Many countries may allow two men to be “married” but we know that there is actually no such thing as a marriage that includes anything other than a man and a wife. God has defined something. Any attempt to redefine it is a perversion. Period.

So here’s the encouragement. It is directly from the mouth of God Himself. Jesus said in John 8, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Disciples of Jesus are not bound to constant self-deception and sin because they know the truth, and they know the truth because they love, live in, and KNOW Scripture. Knowing the truth of the Gospel is freedom! Freedom from your need to be euphemistic about your sin. Freedom from trying to be whatever “authentic” is. Freedom from fear of man. Freedom, ultimate and true, from sin. To know Scripture is to be free. Let’s stop giving the world repackaged versions of their own self-help pep talks that remove us from the life-giving words in the Bible. Your messy might be authentic but Jesus didn’t come to die for your missed turns, and your frequently flaring temper with your family is nothing to wink at. He died in order to remove your heart of stone and give you a heart a flesh.

You’re a sinner. Confess your sins. Repent. And be free.

If I hear the word “messy” one more time I might explode. On my list of things I have no patience for, “messy” sits squarely next to Debi Pearl. Floors are messy. Unorganized desks are messy. Fingerpainting with a two-year-old is messy. Bratty college kids’ dorm rooms are messy. You are not messy. You are a sinner.

And so, when you peruse Evangelical Facebook and Evangelical Twitter and Large-Evangelical-Blog-Sites, often what you come across is a euphemism from the pit of hell to describe the state of sin we all experience. The Old Testament describes sinners as having the poison of asps under their lips and having throats that are like open tombs (try imagining the smell of that real quick) and here we are like, “I’m just so messy, teehee! Join me in acknowledging your messiness! Isn’t it great? Let’s all be messy together!”

It’s convenient, isn’t it? After all, messy can be winked at. I wink at my four-year-old when she forgets to pick up her crayons after a solid hour of drawing suns and swingsets. A messy sink full of dishes is a reminder that we had food, that we ate together—all things to be thankful for. Messy is not inherently right or wrong. But sin is a pit of destruction. Sin is an offense to a holy God. Sin sets you on a path squarely to eternal damnation. Sin nailed the Son of God to a cross. Substituting “messy” for “sin” and calling it a euphemism is euphemistic. Chew on that one for a sec.

There are a few ideas that I am completely sold on. Shoes shouldn’t be worn inside. Hot coffee being poured over ice doesn’t make iced coffee. Fruit doesn’t belong on pizza. Communism is the worst. We should use biblical language. You know, these are basic truths when you think about it. But we live in a postmodern world, and language is a battlefield. The more we insist on softening biblical language so as not to offend, the more ground we will lose. The ones preaching the gloriousness of sharing in each other’s “messiness” are the ones that have given up the ghost. They aren’t the ones storming the tower. They’re the ones smoking a cigarette in the trench because what’s the big deal about taking the tower, anyway?

The word “sinner” has lost its place in decent conversation and it’s one of the most indecent things I have seen preachers, teachers, and bloggers do as of late. Language matters and here’s why. You do not have to repent from being messy. If you are messy, hire a maid, buy a vacuum, take a course on how to be organized. Or don’t. Not all messes warrant spiritual concern. However, if you are a sinner, there is nothing you can do but find a savior. When you give up sin for a euphemism, you lose the need for repentance. You lose the need for a savior. You lose categories that the world wants us to lose—like God’s holiness, justice, and wrath. Why on Earth would God send a messy person to Hell, anyway?

So maybe I’m just getting disagreeable in my old age or maybe trading in Biblical language for more world-friendly euphemisms is a lazy, devil-may-care attitude that far too many of us are willing to fall in to in order to maintain a level of perceived friendliness to the world. I mean, if being blunt about your messy means you are just full of moxie, it’s actually kinda charming, ain’t it?

I cannot imagine that anyone under Paul’s teaching would confess their sins to each other like this: “Friends, I am a beautiful mess. I have made a mistake, because like everyone else here, I am authentically broken. God is tracing my scars with his fingers and putting me back together again. Please forgive me of my messiness towards you.”  I could do without that kind of self-righteous apology, couldn’t you?

It is true that we are broken, but that is because we are sinners. And it is true that sin can make a real mess of things, but that is because sin has marred every inch of creation. And your authentic self? Well, it’s pretty bad. So bad that Christ had to die a terrible, torturous death for it. You make mistakes, sure. But missing an exit on the way to grandma’s house is not the same as lusting after your neighbor. Using Biblical language will make all of these proper and necessary distinctions for you. It’s pretty great and I think we all should try it.

The problem of language ties in to a myriad of issues Christianity is facing today, and we are losing ground in some instances. If you ask most Christians with a biblical view on marriage what’s wrong with legalizing “same-sex marriage,” they will tell you it’s because homosexuality is wrong. That’s true. But let’s start with the fact that marriage has already been defined by God, and marriage can only be between a man and a woman. To include any other set of persons within that frame (woman/woman, man/woman/woman, man/daughter, so on it goes) would be to redefine marriage altogether. Many countries may allow two men to be “married” but we know that there is actually no such thing as a marriage that includes anything other than a man and a wife. God has defined something. Any attempt to redefine it is a perversion. Period.

So here’s the encouragement. It is directly from the mouth of God Himself. Jesus said in John 8, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Disciples of Jesus are not bound to constant self-deception and sin because they know the truth, and they know the truth because they love, live in, and KNOW Scripture. Knowing the truth of the Gospel is freedom! Freedom from your need to be euphemistic about your sin. Freedom from trying to be whatever “authentic” is. Freedom from fear of man. Freedom, ultimate and true, from sin. To know Scripture is to be free. Let’s stop giving the world repackaged versions of their own self-help pep talks that remove us from the life-giving words in the Bible. Your messy might be authentic but Jesus didn’t come to die for your missed turns, and your frequently flaring temper with your family is nothing to wink at. He died in order to remove your heart of stone and give you a heart a flesh.

You’re a sinner. Confess your sins. Repent. And be free.

SUMMER WHITE

Writer | Sheologian
Summer White is @SummrWrites on Twitter. She is a mother of two and she occasionally blogs when taking a break from making crock-pot meals. She grew up traveling with her dad and watching him debate all over the country. She does not like long walks on the beach.

@SummrWrites Facebook sheologiansblog@gmail.com

4 Comments

  1. Jacob Perry

    Dude, yes!!!! Language matters!!!! Communism destroys language. Everyone said I was being nitpicky over my words and told me to stop. However, this article is a great example as to why being “picky” can be a good thing. We need to use our words with careful consideration. After all, 1 word changed the entire meaning of John 1:1 in the NWT.

    Reply
  2. Kate

    Yes. I feel like there are a lot of so-called Christian books and blogs aimed at women written by women that use this language and it needs to stop.

    Reply
  3. Alyssa

    Great article! Thank you! Lots of food for thought. Be in the world – not of the world – that’s relevant for the language we use too!

    Reply
  4. Steve Wilkinson

    No doubt! I’m always amazed at the number of churches, even with formal liturgies that have a confession that goes something like, “Oh God, we sometimes forget to live in the world as you would like us to.” or stuff along those lines. That’s a heck of a long way from, “I, a poor miserable sinner, confess…”

    Reply

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