Coded Language: When Words Have Other Meanings

Coded Language: When Words Have Other Meanings April 19, 2015

Image by Suzanne Titkemeyer
Image by Suzanne Titkemeyer

by Suzanne Titkemeyer cross posted from her blog What Would Roger Sterling Do? originally posted June 2014

These last few weeks I’ve been reading through the new book out of John Piper’s camp – “Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood” and I posted one puzzling piece at NLQ. Mel also wrote a valid criticism or the book at her site When Cows and Kids Collide.

It was a story of a disabled boy who’s adoptive Good Christian ™ father determined that the main thing wrong with the child was that he had a mental picture of himself as disabled, weak and whiny. The father decided that the thing to make the child readjust his attitude and change his mental self image was to force him to try to walk.

Yeah, all without consulting a physical therapist, a doctor or anyone with any genuine medical or physiological training. The story is disturbing on literal levels as well as the hidden coded thing it hides.

It’s a story of a little boy whose body was weak. He couldn’t walk, and he was carried everywhere he went. Over time, he became needy, weepy, and constantly made requests of those around him. If you saw him, you would have pitied him. He was not even ten years of age and already way behind.But then something happened. The little boy had spent most of his life in foster care. Then, one day, he was adopted by a Christian family. This was no ordinary family, however. It was one led by an old-fashioned father, a man whose blend of kindness and authority drew respect from his wife and children. His wasn’t the ultra-modern home you see on Hulu nowadays—teens eye-rolling, chaos reigning, dad zoned out on his iPhone, mom trying to tame the far-past-gone toddlers. This was a home where a father trained and pastored his children, and a mother devoted herself to her kids. This was a home where you were expected to pull your weight, pursue maturity, and sacrifice your interests to those of others.This was the home the little boy entered. He couldn’t have articulated his feelings, but he knew something was different. There was order. There was discipline. And there was love, abundant love, that spilled out into laughter and playing and real conversation. But the boy wasn’t the onlyone watching. The father was watching, too. He thought to himself, This boy isn’t lame. He’s not gonna be a track star. But I think he can walk.After a couple days, he decided not to keep these thoughts to himself. He gently prodded the little boy, his new son, to try walking. So the boy did. At first it didn’t go well. This wasn’t supposed to happen. His self-identity was fixed. But then something clicked. The boy took one step, then another. A lurch became a walk. Pretty soon he, too, was caught up in the whirl of the home. He wasn’t the fastest, and the other kids had to help him at times. But the switch was back on. The boy had come alive. His strength was bigger than his weakness. His identity was refigured.This true story elegantly illustrates what happens when the gospel speaks into our sexuality.

What I find disturbing about the story, much more dangerous than the idea that pushing a kid to deny his condition and change is the entire idea of coded language and ideas exemplified by this piece of the book. Did you notice that the last sentence is chilling in that it spells out simply what the story of the boy is meant to actually be. Let’s look at that sentence again.

 “This true story elegantly illustrates what happens when the gospel speaks into our sexuality.”

In non-Christian-ese this entire sad story has been an analogy for changing someone’s sexuality by stern training of the True Christian(tm) family. Replace ‘needy’ and ‘weepy’ with ‘feminine’ or ‘girlish’ and ‘couldn’t walk’ with ‘homosexual’ and the true meaning leaps out.

Why the coding? Because if they came right out with their agenda honestly and talked about training swishy little boys to be he-men the media and the world would seize upon it as the hate it is. Hate speech, attempts yet again to say that sexuality is a choice, a choice that can be trained out of someone or a choice that can be conscientiously changed as easy as changing your shoes.

 That changing is a old falsehood that the extremer parts of Evangelical Christianity and Biblical Patriarchy clings to so desperately that they code their talk about it now instead of being upfront about it.

Apparently it is the new society-impacting tactic that fundamentalists and evangelicals have seized upon as their best chance into tricking people into thinking that their ideas aren’t so bad. Over the last year I’ve witnessed in my local newspaper when some editor was fooled into giving a local woman, Amanda Dilday, her own column titled “Birth Matters”

The scary, dangerous and very disingenuous thing about the writings of Amanda Dilday of Culpeper Times and the Culpeper Star Exponent newspapers is her carefully coded language to advance the beliefs of the Quiverfull culture as ‘normal’. She writes pieces subtly slanted against traditional medical care, both for birth and general health concerns. She’s another one of those home birth only Quiverful Christians that things everything else is wrong.

However, she is just clever enough not to quote scriptures or come right out with the Christian-ese in her columns. But anyone with a basic knowledge of the beliefs and foibles of radical evangelical right cults can see that she is trying to inch along their agenda in our part of Virginia in her coded language way.

I’m not sure how she got her weekly newspaper space or how she keeps it considering how bizarre and home birth-focused her writing is. Every week is the same old same old. I consider women like Amanda Dilday to be as responsible for the death of babies as abortionists. At least abortionists are honest, she  isn’t with her language. I object to what she writes because I have no desire to see any Benaiah Chmielewski’s in our small town, egged on by those with scant real training or knowledge of medicine.


Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin of NLQ and also the wife of a man who had sense enough to recognize their church as a cult before dragging her out. She is a crazy old cat lady keeps busy with her grown children, her rescue animals, foster care animals and her love of all things art. Contrary to Fundy-Belief she’s usually smiling, laughing or smirking while swilling diet coke and dispensing sarcasm. She blogs at What Would Roger Sterling Do? and True Love Doesn’t Rape


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