March 11, 2019
The United States Constitution provides Americans with many rights. One of those rights is the freedom of speech. In the era when the Constitution was written, profanity was not accepted as proper speech, and certainly not allowed in the presence of women and children. “In our society today, the majority of people believe profanity is an acceptable form of language. Most of these people feel that they are free to say whatever they want without worrying about the rights of others. Due to this insensitivity, our children have a hard time walking down a street without hearing profanity. We know that the way a person acts and speaks is most often determined at a young age, so when a parent or another role model uses profanity, a child feels free to also use these words. Profanity has become entertaining to television viewers, many of them being children. Many years ago the movie industry did not produce an abundance of films that contained profanity, but today it is almost impossible to find a movie that doesn’t contain vulgar language, violence and sexuality. Profanity dominates the world of online games and has become a major source of the exposure to profanity for young people.
Our society seems to teach children that everybody uses bad language and those who don’t use it are weak. The fact is, we live in a society where not using profanity often takes more character and courage than using it. Sadly, the students at a Christian school are not an exception to this and many struggle with the rules in place that prevent bad language from being used. At the same time there are many Christian young people who do not use profanity. I would also point out that in many instances our society does still find cursing offensive. If you don’t think so, try getting a job by using profanities and obscenities when applying for employment, or try cursing at the judge in a court room over a speeding ticket. The truth is, those that might argue that using bad language is acceptable because everybody uses it, are just wrong. Unfortunately, the message we send our children by exposing them to bad language in the media and in certain situations, is that profanity is wrong in some situations but appropriate in others. People who support this argument believe that intelligent human beings should be able to determine when bad language is not acceptable and exercise will power to restrain during those times.
Christian parents and educators cannot promote this model to our children because there is a higher model for us to follow. This model we should follow is to consider what God’s Word says about “bad language.” Exodus 20:7 says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” This means that every time someone uses Jesus Christ as a swear word or uses God’s name to damn someone they are guilty. I believe it also applies to the common expression of “Oh my God,” which most of us are guilty of at one time or another. Think of it this way. Using God’s name as a curse word would be similar to going to your own parents and cursing them and telling them you do not want to be known by their name any more. If the trend for profanity is ever to be slowed down, Christians must start by following this simple commandment in reverence to Almighty God. James 5:12, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear; not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, or you will be condemned.” Swearing is becoming more acceptable in our society due to all of the media sources mentioned earlier, but it is the prohibited language James is talking about in scripture. We sometimes refer to these words as “four letter” words. Using hell and damn, and many more graphic swear words is such a part of some people’s vocabulary they can hardly speak without using them. For the Christian however, the Bible instructs us not to use these words and swearing should not be part of the life of a Christian. Matthew 12:34, “…How can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” This simply means that vulgar words come out of the mouth of a person with a vulgar heart. There is a plague, among young people today, of writing and posting the most vulgar language and sexual talk on their social media posts. According to this verse, this is a reflection of what is in their heart and it will come out of their mouth, probably at a most inopportune time. Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” The Bible warns us about tearing someone down with our words. As believers our words should be used to build others up, not tear them down. There is no justification for a Christian to ever cut down another person for any reason, even when we are angry. Colossians 3:8 speaks to this, “But now rid yourself of such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Even when we are mad, we have no excuse to use filthy language.
Cursing and swearing is a terrible sin and a plague on our society. Christian parents and educators have to work hard to set an example to their children and students in this area. For anyone who has developed a habit of using bad language, they cannot change unless they have a desire in their heart to change. In order to change, it must be confessed as sin, I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” After acknowledging the problem as sin, it must be yielded to the Lord as a part of a lifestyle. Romans 12:1, “Present your body a living sacrifice to the Lord, holy and acceptable to Him and pleasing to God. This is a reasonable act of worship to God.” Every day we need to ask God to rule over our speech as we live for Him. In doing so we are promoting the good name of our spiritual family, the family of Christ.