What’s in a name?

The other day (June 2 , if you want to look it up) I was reading Dear Abby. As those of you who follow this blog (thank you so much for that- I really appreciate it) probably remember, I read her column to gain fodder for my rantings, and I was not disappointed with this one.

A person wrote and asked about the name, or descriptive title, of a unmarried man who is having an affair with a married woman. S/he said everyone knows that a woman would be called a “mistress”, and wanted to know what do you call a man in that position?

Here’s an old joke: “What is the definition of a mistress? Something between a mister and a mattress!”

Dear Abby took this one to heart, checked it out in the library, did her research, and came up with a few different names. But of all the names she came up with, what I noticed was the one name that was absent: adulterer.

I have to admit I was a little surprised- I believe Dear Abby has a good moral character and ethics, yet, here she has the opportunity to remind us that adultery is a sin and she lets it pass. She answered the question, and I am sure that she will defend her position (and it’s not really a bad defense) by stating it isn’t her job to judge, just to answer.

Although when you read her column, she judges often enough.

The bottom line is that she needs to maintain her readership, and when too many people are reminded too often that they are sinners, that what they do is wrong, that their problems stem more from their lack of respect for God and His laws than anything else, well- she’ll find herself losing popularity. Her columns are written to keep people reading them, and that is done by providing good advice and a daily dose of gossip.

Proverbs 18:8 says:

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.

Now, you may argue that when someone writes about themself it isn’t gossip, and many people are writing about their own problems, which more often than not is about or involves someone else. Names are not given, events are descriptive enough that people involved will probably guess it’s about them, but the truth is: this is a gossip column. People read it to hear about other people’s problems and to feel better about themselves. Sometimes it can serve a valuable service, the advice is often enough valid and useful, but when you strip off the pleasantries, it is a gossip column, and as such must appeal to the lowest and basest of human emotions- to watch (or in this case, hear about) the suffering of others.

I find myself asking, “Why?”: why doesn’t she ever recommend that someone go ask their Rabbi or Pastor or Priest for help? Then I remember about the New Jersey Rabbi who murdered his wife to be with his mistress (there’s that word again!), and the problems in the Catholic church with child abuse by the priests, and Jim Bakker, and…well, I guess she doesn’t suggest going to the clergy because they’ve had some really bad press lately.

The world is what she writes about, and the world is who she writes to, so it shouldn’t surprise us that her advice is “worldly”, not spiritual. Maybe we need to get someone out there who will write a spiritual column, someone who will tell people that their problems are because they have no love of God or respect for His laws. Even if you are an Atheist, you have to admit that the social and moral mores of the Bible are valid and, if followed, would make the world a much, much better place to live in.

If you know of such a column, please hit the reply button and share it with the rest of us.

We need to let the world know that what is in a name is the truth of the matter- names of people in the bible were more than just some fancy moniker- they were who the person was. And when we want to know what to call someone who is having an out of wedlock affair, there are two names for it: if one or both of them are married, the name is adulterer. If neither is married, the name is fornicator.

That’s it. Nothing else is truthful, everything else is some form of sugar-coating the truth.

Brothers and Sisters, we live in a world that is full of sin, and accepts it as the way to be. They have lived with the stench of sinfulness for so long that they think it smells nice. In fact, it is so bad that the world thinks we Believers stink! As Shaul tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:16:

To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.

That makes it even harder to get close enough to people to help them find their way to salvation- after all, who wants to be in an elevator with someone who hasn’t showered for a week?

Don’t let that stop you. You can cover the smell of salvation by talking to them in a language they understand, use the terminology of the world to help them forget about how you smell and to get them to listen. Then, slowly, with the gentleness of a dove and the cunning of a serpent, bring them into the light. They won’t know how bad they smell until they get a breath of fresh air, and the Ruach haKodesh is the freshest of air (Ruach, which we interpret as ‘spirit”, in Hebrew is actually the word for ‘wind’.)

I have nothing against Dear Abby, and I think she very often helps people. The problem is that she helps them in a worldly way and what they all really need is to know God’s way, if they want help that will save their souls.

The problem, I guess, is that saving souls doesn’t sell papers.

Comments welcomed (just be nice)