Is it just me, or is there more cursing going on these days?
Now in the spirit of full disclosure, and since my friends read this blog, I don’t claim total victory in this area. But something has changed. What ever happened to the good old days of dangs and darns and the occasional dag-nabit? It seems like this generation has skipped that stage and gone straight to f-bombs and s-words.
Note: If the mention of f-bombs and s-words is too much for you, you might want to skip this blog. See you next week.
Timothy Jay, a Psychology professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and the author of Why We Curse and Cursing in America (I couldn’t make this stuff up) says that, “Our language values are shifting…Elementary teachers report that children are using more offensive language than in the past.”
Well, I can’t speak for elementary teachers but I can speak for college professors. I spend most of the year on college campuses, and you can’t help but notice that cursing is on the rise. You might not hear it in the library or the classroom, but you’d better brace yourself if you go to the cafeteria or gymnasium. If you listen closely, you’ll wish that you hadn’t listened closely!
Now let me be clear. This is not a referendum on the spirituality of this generation. My students give me faith in the future of the church. And this is not a “good old days vs. bad new days” post. We’re living in an evil age, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But there’s a problem. It’s hard enough monitoring the media, I don’t want to steer my little ones around clusters of Christian students.
I spoke to a classroom of university students about this cursing issue and they all agreed that it was on the rise. They cited the influence of social media, motion pictures, broadcast television and especially the lyrics of popular music. Profanity is such a pervasive part of popular culture that it seems almost impossible to escape.
But the question is, what is a Christian to do? Is it ok for Christians to curse?
Let me leave you with 3 brief but bold points the Bible makes about the importance of our words.
1. Watch What You Say
“Be imitators of Christ…Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:1-4
“Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” Ephesians 4:29
Pretty clear. It might not be a big deal to us but it seems to make a big deal to God. And not only should we watch what our words say to others, but we should watch what our words say about ourselves.
“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Matthew 12:34
In other words, nothing is a clearer indicator of what’s happening in your heart than what’s coming out of your mouth. Scary. James says that it is impossible for us to control our tongues. But here’s the good news. If we release control, He will take control of our tongues. James 3.
2. Limit What You Say
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life..” Proverbs 13:3
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James 1:19
This is great advice but hard advice. The plain truth is that most of us talk too much. The idea is that if we’d talk less, then we’d have fewer problems to deal with. Good luck with that. This counsel just reminds me of how impossible it is to do any of this in our own strength. But God never asks us to do what He has not empowered us to do. Give up the controls.
3. Do What You Say
“But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.” I John 2:5
There it is. Watch it. Limit it. Do it. There is no greater witness to the power of God than a dependable Christian. We live in a world of missed appointments, broken promises, and casual commitments. Consistent Christians, who keep their word, are powerful witnesses.
Finally, it’s clear that people, good and bad people, curse for all manner of reasons. Subjects like this tempt me to write a research paper instead of a blog. I literally could have written a small book on the issues that flow from this topic. Your comments will let me know if I need to revisit the topic. But cursing seems to be just a symptom of much larger problems that we face in this evil age.
So there you have it. That’s what I say. What do You say?