This article has a very simple point: words matter. More specifically, God’s words matter. More specifically still, using and speaking God’s words matter. One of the ways Satan works to deceive and lure us is by getting us to use the world’s words. That’s the simple point. Now, let’s consider a story to help illustrate our point. It comes from C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, which is one of the novels in his must-read Chronicles of Narnia series.
We’ll have to cut to the chase here for space purposes, but the Prince of Narnia (the world enchanted by Aslan, the God-figure of the story), has been captured by the Queen of the Underworld. You can probably figure out who she represents. The protagonists, along with Lewis’ delightfully pessimistic marsh-wiggle Puddleglum (think of a green-gray man with webbed feet) have been sent to rescue him.
They find the Prince in the Queen’s underworld kingdom and release him from his bondage, but the Queen finds them before they can escape. She sprinkles some magic powder into a burning fire and it starts to numb their minds and cloud their thinking. They’re trying to remember why they came, what their mission was (to get the Prince back to the overworld, back to Narnia), but Narnia begins to fade in their minds.
Puddleglum remembers that the overworld had a sun, and a really bright one at that, something the underworld doesn’t have and he tries to rally his companions with talk of the overworld’s bright, blazing sun. The Queen questions them to cast doubt: “What is this sun that you speak of? Do you mean anything by the word?” The Prince’s mind is clouding, but he compares the sun to one of the lamps in the underworld.
And the queen pounces on it: “Your sun is a dream; there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story.”
Now, I want you to notice what’s happening here. There’s a war of words going on, but it’s not really about the words, it’s about reality. What is real? Is the sun real or is it a dream conjured up by seeing a streetlamp? Maybe the lamp is the real, the true source of light, and there is no sun.
You see, the Queen’s goal is to get them to forget Narnia, to forget the overworld exists, to accept her words, her definition of reality. Because words matter. Words reflect reality. Words shape how we see, how we think about the world.
But in the story, Puddleglum does a very brave thing – and that phrase has parked itself in my mind and I’m going to park it in yours in a minute. Puddleglum knows he needs to break the spell or they will forget the sun and Narnia forever. He needs to put the fire out because it’s disseminating the magic powder. So he takes his bare, webbed foot and he crushes the fire, getting a very fine burn in the process, but he breaks the spell.
And with the spell broken, they are able to remember the overworld clearly and complete their escape from the Queen’s underworld.
Here’s what I want us to understand: words matter. In Lewis’ story, the Queen commits what Lewis calls elsewhere verbicide. She murders words. And, by doing so, she hopes to murder their memory of Narnia and Aslan’s enchanted world.
It happens in our world, too. So much of the radical, sexualized, woke ideology today is a war on words, which, as with the Queen in Lewis’ story, is really a war on God’s creation, a rejection of what God has called good. But it shows up in words. Let me show you.
God places a hedge around sex, reserving it for the one-flesh union of husband and wife and the procreation of children. So, things like prostitution, polygamy, pornography, fornication, adultery, and so forth are sin because they are a corruption of what God has created and called good. But look what the world does: prostitution is rebranded as sex workers; polygamy is rebranded as plural marriage; adultery becomes open marriage; fornication becomes living together; pornography is adult entertainment.
God places a hedge around identity – male and female – and He calls them good. Our world derisively rails against the binary and praises its invented spectrum. God places a hedge around the creational family – father, mother, children – and He calls it good. And our world is branding this white, western, Christian, and oppressive. (Read more in July’s newsletter in the article “How We Discern What Matters.”)
God places a hedge around life; He calls it good. That would include the unborn. But our world rebrands abortion, the murder of the unborn, as health care, even though killing the unborn is neither healthy nor caring.
God defines marriage; it’s a specific thing, not a mere joining of two (or more) people. It’s something specific: male and female joined in a one-flesh union aimed toward procreation. But the world is out to murder these words – verbicide – because words matter. But understand, it’s a war on creation, on what God has called good. Every last one of them is a rejection of what God has called good.
And if you don’t hear the whisper of Lewis’ underworld Queen – There is no overworld, there is no Narnia, there is no sun, that’s the stuff of children’s tales. Here’s the real. Here’s the good. If you don’t hear that whisper, you are fully under her magic.
What do we need to do? Remember Puddleglum? He did a very brave thing. We have the same call. We need to do a very brave thing. We need to use God’s words. Words matter. God’s words matter. If we lose the words, we run the risk of losing Narnia, of losing God’s world, of losing our citizenship in God’s world.
This brave thing may come at a cost. In fact, it probably will in a cancel culture that is trying to silence anyone who uses different words than the mob approves. But we are in need of a brave generation who isn’t afraid of the cost, who isn’t afraid to use God’s words.
But here’s the thing: we need to learn God’s words. There’s a lot at stake here. Words matter. They have been given to us by God to reflect and describe His world and if we lose His world, we run the risk of losing our knowledge of His world and our citizenship in it. It’s time that we do a very brave thing – no matter the cost. It’s time to learn God’s words and start insisting on them. – Pastor Conner