“Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne” – Quentin Crisp. A euphemism is making something sound more pleasant than it really is like when one uses the term “passed away” for “dying.” There are a whole lot of euphemisms in the modern world and very few in the Bible.
Nope, the Bible is generally pretty direct, blunt, and to the point. No diplomatic cologne anywhere in there. However, there are many, many idioms! An idiom is a cultural metaphor understood at the time by most people. It is not literal, but rather symbolic, metaphorical. One idiom that has expired in my lifetime would be, “roll down the window.” We no longer have handles in our cars to crank and obviously I am not a suggesting anyone literally roll themselves down a window.
We can laugh, but kids already look at me strangely when I tell them to “dial a number” or “give them a ring.” A whole lot of things can get all lost in translation very quickly.
One of my favorite Biblical idioms is how we are, “salt of the Earth.” There is a deeper meaning there when you discover babies were often salted to establish their parenthood. In Ezekiel 16:4, we have the great insult, the implication someone was a bastard, was not wanted at birth, “And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.”
To be “salt of the Earth” is to be claimed as a son or daughter of the Most High. It proclaims where we came from, who we are, and Whose we are. We aren’t just out there seasoning the Earth and making it more flavorful. We belong to Someone, we are part of a family, we have a Father.
I just want to encourage everyone to dig a bit deeper if you ever get tangled up in an idiom, or confused by a cultural reference. Things in the Bible really do make some incredible good sense once you understand what is actually being said.
Also, the modern world needs to chuck the euphemisms and start speaking plainly. “Planned Parenthood” for example, has nothing to do with planning to have a child. “Feminine hygiene products” are not “gender exclusive” which people would probably understand much better if they knew what they were actually for. I could go on and on, my point being we are allowing our language to be manipulated and heavily sprinkled with diplomatic cologne so as to make it more appealing for human consumption.