I’ve read it a million times in various books. Someone says something like, “Well, things are just going downhill. In my day…” Invariably, the impression is clear. Only “old” people are bothered by the relaxing of standards once considered important. Well, I think I’m old. Call me a hypocrite, but I’ve never been bothered by words like darn and heck. For one thing, they’d been around for several generations before me and were far removed from the original words. I get that language is fluid. I get that things change. I just don’t agree that all change is good.
It started with a so-called mild form of excrement. Not as offensive as the “S” word, this word I’ve heard spoken glibly by nearly everyone. I hate it, but I tried to keep my opinion to myself. After all, just because I don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong. Then there came the spin-offs of the vulgar “F” word. I hate them. Cannot stand them. However, I have to say, they are still preferable to the more modern “F-ing” or “WTF.” I hesitated typing those out. I feel like I just used nasty language. You know why? Because I did. I’m sorry, but it’s quite obvious what words are meant there. The mind fills them in for you. I have actually heard people say both aloud. Text-speak has invaded modern speech in new ways. People actually vocalize “LOL” or “OMG” as if they are words. I’m sorry, exclaiming “OMG” is frankly no different than saying “Oh, my God!” Let’s hope that is a prayer on your lips.
I know that a lot of people say, “So what? It’s just a matter of taste. You’re just judging/putting your standards on others/etc.” Um, actually, I’m quite certain that Scripture is clear on this kind of thing.
I know, I have a love-affair with the book of James. People who know me well could have guessed I’d start there. James 3: 5-10
5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
When I think of these verses, the first thing that comes to mind is how easily our tongue controls us rather than the other way around. When you take Luke 6:45 and read it with James in mind, it becomes quite sobering.
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
Gulp. When we’re throwing out words that refer to irreverent usage of God’s name, excrement, and the most vulgar words in our language, what does that say about our hearts? Can we truthfully stand before the Lord and say, “I knew You’d use that language, so I was good with it?” If Jesus wouldn’t use our choice of “phraseology,” then what makes those of us who call ourselves “Christ Ones” (Christians) think that it is acceptable for us?
I’ve actually heard Christians defend the use by saying that the Bible doesn’t forbid it. Seriously? We have movie and even TV show ratings that both signify and warn about “Profane speech” in their choices. You can expect to possibly hear a few “mild” profanities in PG, possibly quite a bit with PG-13, and if you get to R, well it could be like the time we went to see the movie Phone Booth, expecting to have to overlook a few obscenities and left after just a few minutes and about 50 F-words. It was ridiculous. If the world can see that certain words are “profane” why are we so quick to dismiss it. Ephesians 5:3-5 has something to say about that.
Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Um… no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk which is out of place…
What about the ESV? I thought it was interesting to compare the NAB to the ESV on verse 4.
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
What the NAB calls obscenity, the ESV calls filthiness. What the NAB calls silly, the ESV calls foolish talk. What the NAB calls suggestive talk, the ESV calls crude joking. OUCH.
Ok, I’m going to be horribly transparent here. Occasionally someone will say something that sounds “just wrong.” You know what I mean. Thank the French for the concept of the “double entendre.” Usually, I wish I could truthfully say always, I don’t comment. I mean, really. Just because one person’s words sounded suggestive when I knew it wasn’t meant to does not mean that I have to send everyone else’s minds around me into the same “obscene/crude” place that mine went. And, I’ve noticed that the less often I let my mind stay in that place, the less often it goes there. It’s as if crudeness begets crudeness. Imagine that.
Look, I know we have what we call “free speech” in America, and I believe it is a wonderful right that the citizens should protect to the best of their ability. However, as CHRISTIANS, we do not have that right. As Christians we are specifically called not to be “of the world.” We are told to keep our thoughts and speech pure. I’m sorry, but even text-speak abbreviations for things that are impure don’t sanitize them. Your spouting “WTF” when something goes wrong or astounds you puts the actual words in my mind. As a Christian, you are defrauding your sister. You are being offensive. You are making it next to impossible for me to keep the impurity of such words out of my mind. If you cannot see the need to restrain yourself for your own benefit, can you not show Christian charity to your sister in Christ?
When you tell a sexually implicit or explicit joke, turn everything into a double meaning, or use words that send others’ minds in those directions, you’re causing brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble. Would you really do that if Jesus was right there taking part in the conversation? I know you can’t “help” what jumps into your mind before you’ve had a chance to dissect it, but you can help putting those same inappropriate images and thoughts into the minds of those around you.
Hey, I’m talking to myself on that one. Even my (truly) shocked, “Aaak” can do it. I remember watching a movie once. All the innuendo (or most anyway) went straight over my head. It usually does. However, when we went back to see it with friends and my kids, one person with us caught every single one– and made bothered noises to that effect. Hey, I don’t blame her. When you “get it” it’s hard not to be offended by it. However, every single one of those “ugh” type sounds alerted me to the ugliness I’d missed. On the one hand, since I’d brought my older girls, I was glad of it. On the other hand, I wonder how much of the ugliness they’d have ignored if they weren’t being alerted to its presence every few minutes. My guess is that most of them would have been like me. Clueless. And that’s how I’d have preferred it. I do it often without realizing it until it’s too late. As a mom, there’s a fine line between not drawing attention to crudeness or obscenity and pointing out what we avoid. However, between friends, there’s just no excuse for sending one anothers’ minds into the gutter.
Or, in the words of one of those Disney cartoon characters. “If you don’t have something nice to say…”