“Nor should there be obscenity…” (Ephesians 5:4).
Look, I’m no prude. I can cuss with the best of them, quite inventively in fact; always could turn a phrase vile and crude going all the way back to my preadolescent days; still keep up a thriving practice in my head; and I’m not saying any of it’s right.
Those of us raised in the pre-internet past—and particularly those raised pre-cable television—will recall there was once a societal governor of sorts, a set of collective mores, an accepted ethos about such public misbehaviors. These days one hears anywhere all manner of mouths articulating words that only peppery sailors spoke back when. And we hear this from every walk of life, even little kids casually throwing out the vilest of language. Is this what the hallways of third grade have become—the deepest recesses of the pool hall? What ever happened to “Shoot” and “Golly gee”? What is happening to us? “My word!” and “Good heavens to Betsy!” have been replaced with…well, you know what with.
There are worse things. Lightening might not strike us for our tongues. But can’t we agree that God didn’t mean it to be this way? Do television and other forms of media get to dictate what is now acceptable to say? Does anyone believe that we’ll be cussing up a storm in Heaven? Will we ever in eternity ask God to damn anyone or anything?
I mean all this, not as law, but as encouragement for souls under grace, where God’s work in and through us is very much in progress. I mean this as a proposal whereby we, as Christians, freely cooperate with that good work by meaning more to clean up our own act in the face of—to put it not nicely—the dirty onslaught. And when we do so, expect this: some will laugh. Let ‘em. Let ‘em also point the finger—or give it—if they choose. And let ‘em call us holier-than-thou prudes while using the vilest language they are wont to use. As for our part, let us hold the line in our retorts and be more like Jesus instead, who speaks with a colorful tongue, to be sure, but always out of love and truth. And if we do our part well, others might just want to know more about this oddly out-of-step person we follow, might even come to learn that “in the beginning was the Word,” and He didn’t cuss.
I hope this encourages you to speak like Jesus today.
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