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« Filling up what’s lacking | Main | The Design of Life »

March 31, 2008

Re: Clean up your act

Thanks for bringing this up, Kristine. I've been wanting to converse on this topic for a while now.

As a product of the "this sucks"--"crap"--"what the heck" generation, I'm concerned! I'm concerned about myself, my peers, and our children. Not so much that we use these words, but that we don't properly fear language.

Allison Aubrey says that words like "suck" are more acceptable now because language has evolved, and the way the word is used could just as easily refer to a yucky lollipop as it could to the alternative.

I tend to agree. But is this really why we say "crap" 30 times a day? Do we say it because we're really talking about "number 2" or because we're lazy--about our words, our attitudes, and the weight of language?

I have a friend who recently told me that she doesn't think it's wrong for Christians to curse. To her, they're just words. Similarly, many of my Christian friends--and, by this, I mean friends who are serious followers of Christ--say "Oh my God" as casually as they say "Thank you." I can remember the day when, like Kristine, I would have faced a bar of soap over that one.

Since my days of lathered lips, I've come to realize that saying "Oh my God" is no more wicked than saying "God bless you" when your mind is anywhere but blessing someone, or telling someone you will pray for them (i.e. approach the throne of grace on someone's behalf) and forget your promise within five minutes.

I'm guilty. You're guilty. We're all guilty. We've forgotten that words aren't "just words." We've forgotten Ephesians 4:29 and Exodus 20:7. We've forgotten the scribes of Kumran who washed their hands before writing God's most sacred name "Yahweh."

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

Boundless has some more good thoughts here. And this guy says that words are just a vessel of meaning. I'm not convinced.

But, let's keep the conversation going. I want to know what you think.

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I tend to agree with that guy you linked to, at least when we're talking about obscenity, intent is just as important as content in such situations, and not more important (ie don't forget Ephesians 4:29) With regards to profanity however I take a stricter stance.

Do you say "oh my gosh" instead of "oh my god"? Aren't these synonyms? You're saying gosh instead of God, but you still mean God. Is this being profane or not?

Regrettably Anonymous

I hate to post this anonymously, but my blogging has only come with a promise to my wife to keep her and the family out of all my posts and comments.

As a parent, the "number 2" bit killed me. My boys love potty humor, natch, no matter how we may try to sway them otherwise. The biggest challenge is keeping a straight face while disciplining them about it ... because, usually, I find their oft-clever usages thereof pretty funny.

While driving home from church last month, my oldest son said that he, when he grows up, wants to get a personalized license plate that reads "NUMBER2". When I explained that people generally put a description of themselves on their personalized tags, and did he really want to represent himself as "NUMBER2", my logic did nothing to blunt his line of humor. Instead, he simply noted that people might not understand what he meant by "NUMBER2".

So, instead, he said that he would order a license plate which reads "FECES".

At which point I ducked my head below view of the rearview mirror, so that he couldn't see me laughing.


My Grandmother, who did not affect any behavior or try to strike a prudish pose, said that she couldn't bear to hear people take God's name in vain. It wounded her.

Surely we all know that, regarding all other minor or major swear words, we're just not chewing up any anger well, allowing it to digest in our souls. We could say, as I have in the past, that it's better to allow someone some expletives rather than let them have a heart attack or stress fit.

But is it an either/or? Nope.

Angelise Anderson

Amen. Thanks, Zoe. :) I have always held to this, but sometimes it easy to get caught up and forget to be sensitive when surrounded by a culture that doesn't fear language.

Scripture does say that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Let's not forget that.

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