Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Terms Of Endearment

In a month or so, every other commercial or so on television will have to do with a guy buying a Christmas gift for his significant other and the gift invariably comes from a jewelry store. Every one of my students born in this country can finish this sentence: "He went to _____________!" (Jared, of course!) Defining couplehood is sometimes complicated as you will see below, from March 28, 2006.

We had a good discussion yesterday in my fifth period class. We are in the middle of Stanford Achievement Test week so our normal schedule is out of whack. My students were working on a memory verse, Philippians 2:5-7, when a disagreement surfaced between myself and the majority of the young ladies. I often bring up news items or what I saw on television the night before to make a point or stimulate thought. Over the weekend, I caught a portion of an entertainment news show, I think Access Hollywood, where the topic was love interests of the rich and famous. The show enlisted three 'experts' (a professional matchmaker, an astrologer, a media consultant) to link unattached celebrities with a person of the opposite gender. What I learned, amazingly, is that the movie stars apparently can only fall in love with others who are equally well-known. As I shared this insight, the girls and I disputed the meaning of a word: single. I maintained it applies to anyone who is not married. The girls maintain it cannot apply to anyone who is in a relationship. I countered that on job applications, there are only two boxes to check, Married or Single; no space for In A Committed Relationship. The females in Room 258 countered that the word couple is plural and not singular. I might have asked if they were adults who were dating and had to decide on Sunday school, would they attend the married or singles class? The bell rang before we could resolve the issue. It's probably more generational or gender biased. Girls' way of thinking within their age and school culture leads them to define the term differently than I would. We are both correct because we use the word single in different contexts. Either way, I am single.

One thing I have come to appreciate in teaching foreign students is that they may know the meaning of the words I am using but might not understand what I am trying to say. We judge meaning by context but if you don't have a grasp of the context, any chance for interpretation disintegrates. In Matthew, Jesus was confronting religious leaders who had little sympathy for his associating with known sinners. His reply to them was that they should "go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' " The Pharisees knew the literal interpretation of that quotation from Hosea but its meaning and more importantly, its application, escaped them. They could define the words but they had not put them into practice. What those words meant to Jesus were obviously not what they meant to those who opposed him. His definition of sinner would have included the Pharisees as well as the tax collectors and prostitutes. All needed mercy but only some of them realized it. It's like my interpretation of single versus my girls' interpretation of single... except our debate did not have eternal consequences!

I am forgoing the normal Applicable Quote of the Day to give the last word on the single versus single debate to one of my sophomore girls, Alyssa Leyva. I am reproducing her note on her memory verse yesterday verbatim, complete with her unique punctuation. (By the way, Alyssa is a straight A student and one of the finest young ladies in the universe!)

"if...let's say HYPOTHETICALLY you're dating Lisa F. (I don't know how to spell her name) & this dude comes up to her (of course you're w/ her) and asks if she's single. Since you said that everyone's single if they're not married, that would create ALOT of problems. I disagree & agree w/ you. Isn't there an in between check box for the marital status?"

God bless,
Steve (Single)
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com


Jon said...

i dont know who i agree with yall both have great points

JKC said...

It is interesting that your girls saw "couple" as being a plural word; it really isn't. "Couple" is singular; "couples" is plural. Such are the words - group, club, school, party, etc. - all are singular words describing things made up of more than one part. A "couple" is a single unit made up of two parts. Two couples would be two single units each made up of two parts.

For an example closer to home - the church is singular - yet made up on many parts (saved people).