“What a maroon!”
That one-liner by Bugs Bunny always makes me chuckle.
“Heh-heh, what a maroon!” (And yes, you just read that in his voice, didn’t you?)
Sad to say, it took me a while to figure out he was calling Elmer Fudd a moron. Now I feel like a maroon!
We don’t hear the word moron much, except in a few diatribes on social media by members of the older generation. It’s probably because it was used as an insult since 1922 and has fallen into general disuse due to its offensiveness.
Where does it come from and what does it mean, you ask?
“Moron (n.). 1910, medical Latin, "one of the highest class of feeble-minded persons," from Greek (Attic) mōron, neuter of mōros "foolish, dull, sluggish, stupid," a word of uncertain origin.” Read more
Etymonline.com (Online Etymology Dictionary) quotes Henry H. Goddard’s definition of a moron from the Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the National Education Association of the United States, July 1910. Frankly, moron isn’t flattering at all. Hence, an insult.
In short, it was used to describe a person of a very limited intellectual capacity. For us modern-era folks, we would call that arrested mental development. Depending on the determined intellectual age of an adult back in 1922, one would have been classified as an idiot (a two-year-old or less) or imbecile (between three and seven-years-old), or feeble-minded (seven to twelve-years-old). My, how language evolves!
“So what you’re saying, Pastor Jay, is we all pass through the idiot, imbecile, and feeble-minded stages on our way to adulthood?”
While that would be a tempting thing to say for humor’s sake, no. (But come to think of it, I did do some pretty idiotic, imbecilic, and feeble-minded things in my formative years. Ask my brother…and parents…and, frankly, anyone else.).
What this word technically applies to are adults with arrested mental development. Today, using moron in this way is offensive. Thank God, these descriptions are not commonly used any longer in connection with mentally disabled adults!
But we do hear and read these terms, especially moron, used primarily in verbal warfare on social media and other unrestrained instances of diatribes about politics or current cultural trends or, for me, the slow driver in front of me. I’m also pretty sure the guy behind me on the road is using that same term as well.
Moron is generally interchangeable with the more common and less offensive word, fool. Call someone a fool and they look like you’ve dropped an Old English slur. Call someone a moron? Well, them’s fightin’ words!
So imagine my surprise when I discovered moron is a genuinely biblical word!
It’s true. Moron is in the Bible! The Greek word that is the root for moron is moros (Strongs #3474) and it’s used thirteen times.
The most vivid example is Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:1-2 of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, aka the Prudent and Moronic Bridesmaids.
Here’s the parable. It’s the day of the wedding. Like most 1st c. Jewish weddings, the big event begins at sundown with a wedding procession. The Groom and the Best Man (aka the “Friend of the Bridegroom”) lead the procession through the dark of the evening to the bride’s house. There they gather with the rest of the bridal party, the Bride and her Attendants (aka the Virgins or Bridesmaids of today). Once assembled, they skip off to the wedding venue for the ceremony and wedding shindig. Anyone who arrives late is “locked out” according to Jesus’ parable and misses the wedding, the celebration, and those cute little chocolate party favors on the table.
Now think of this. In our minds, we assume streetlights are lighting the way. Nope. The only way they can walk the road without tripping and face-planting is by carrying a light source. In those days, wedding processions carried flaming oil lamps on poles to light the way. And what do you need for oil lamps? Right. Oil.
Okay, so there are these Ten Attendants. Five of them are “wise” and five are “foolish.” The wise Attendants realize the Groom could run a little late (those cummerbunds are cumbersome, you know, guys?) or the Groom might be on time and they might be a little early. They’re wise enough to bring extra oil just in case. They’re prepared.
But the foolish Attendants are not prepared at all. They assumed too much. Foolishly, they figured the Groom would be prompt or they were perfectly timed for His arrival. Therefore, they assumed they didn’t need an oil refill. Big mistake!
By now, you’ve probably guessed it. The word for “foolish” is moros, that is, “moron.”
The word for “wise” (phronimos – Strong’s #5429) could be interpreted as “prudent.” The prudent or wise person has practical wisdom that sees what must or must not be done in any given situation. They understand the present and prepare for the future. There is nothing theoretical about them. They’re concrete and practical. The wise bridesmaid’s ability to anticipate and prepare for the groom’s delay proves their wisdom and their wisdom is demonstrated by their preparation.
The foolish or moronic person lacks “the maturity to be discriminating; mentally or psychologically immature. Low development or deficient use of reasoning abilities; easily deceived” (dictionary source unknown). In the technical sense, morons (fools) are people who look like they’re mature but lack the maturity to be discriminating or lack reasoning abilities, so they are easily deceived.
Now, while this parable is about anticipating Jesus’ return, its application and use of the word moron is very appropriate for us Christians today.
Remember the above technical definition and descriptions for moron? They have to do with arrested mental development. A person may look like a fully functioning adult and yet have the mental capacity of an infant or child or young teenager.
Please understand me, I’m not saying this to disparage or offend anyone.
I’m pointing out the fact that people can look mature physically and yet be at an immature mental level.
To be blunt, we have wise Christians and moronic Christians walking around. Who is which is revealed by how prepared or unprepared they are for life’s unexpected moments.
No, I’m not talking about Jesus’ Return.
I’m talking about Christians who have matured in their spiritual understanding, reasoning, and discernment, and those who haven’t. Those who are spiritually prudent have dedicated themselves to varying degrees to the reading, studying, digesting, and applying of God’s Word. Those who are spiritually foolish (aka morons) are those who have done little to none of that.
How can we tell which is which? By the same measure Jesus used – how prepared a person is when the unexpected things in life come along.
A wise Christian meets adversity head-on and sees it as an opportunity for growth and maturity. James wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers (and sisters), when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).
A foolish/moronic Christian (having a low spiritual intellect due to being uninformed by God’s Word) looks at adversity and cries, whines, and frets or tries to handle it in their own strength, or declares they are under satanic attack or God’s curse. True, it could be a satanic attack … or it could just be life, oh fretting Christian, because “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
Here’s my point. The wise Christian is characterized by practical wisdom that sees what must or must not be done in any given situation. The foolish/moronic Christian lacks the maturity to be discriminating or lacks reasoning abilities even to the point of being easily deceived. It all comes down to how responsible we have been as Jesus’ disciples to learn and live God’s Word.
My intent is not to use the word moron to be offensive. My intent is to emphasize the fact that many Christians today are woefully Bible-illiterate.
There are many excuses given for not engaging with God’s Word. Here is a Top Ten list of excuses and answers to those excuses. Read more
Truth be told, we have no excuse to be Bible-illiterate.
And yes, Jesus expects His followers to know His word and live it. In Jesus’ day, you couldn’t legitimately be called a rabbi’s disciple if you didn’t learn his words or copy his way of living. No learning or living? No disciple.
January 1 is a great day to start reading the Bible. You can easily read through the Bible in a year. If you have the time, about 60 to 90 minutes, you can read the Bible through in 90 days. And as you read, let the Lord show us how to put those Word to work in your life. Stay with it. You will find wonderful things to put into practice. Yes, it will take time. Yes, it will take effort.
Jesus took the time and effort to save us. Shouldn’t we return the favor?
In Matthew 7:24-27, do you know what Jesus calls the person “who hears these words of Mine and acts on them?” Phronimos, “wise, sensible.” Guess what He calls the person “who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them?”
Yup. Moros. A moron.
In God’s kingdom, no one needs to be accused of being a moron or a fool. It’s entirely up to us.
All it takes is a daily walk through the Bible and some thinking. Doing that, you will be well on your way to becoming the blessed prudent person, not a maroon.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts