2000-05-23 - Swearing

Exodus 20:7 You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished, who takes His name in vain.

In London, English villagers have turned down a proposal that would rename their street from Cowshit Lane, to Cowslip Lane. The name recently became an issue for the village of Golant (southwest England) when it was decided that a map for visitors was being drafted. Did they really want people to see Cowshit Lane on a map and decide it was tourist worthy? Local council chairman Alistair Barr had no problem with it, "I live there and I have no objection to the name." Tradition remains steadfast in the U.K.

So, when you drop a can of soup on your foot and break your toe, as I recently did, what do you say? Ouch, is probably the best response. But many of us have other words to express ourselves. We hear all sorts of curse words on the idiot box. Words and phrases like, "Oh my God," or "Jesus Christ," or "He's an ass," and so on, are now not offensive to the majority of TV listeners. They have become accepted as parts of normal conversation, as if, civilized folks talk this way.

I am one of those folks who agrees with the Reformer, Martin Luther, who was known for his foul language. There are times when an expletive is the best way to describe a situation. However, those times are very rare, maybe once in five years. And the common way in which many spurt out words of a base and classless society is tragic. As Christians we hold ourselves to a higher standard, to a standard that is more careful, more concerned with appearances, lest we reflect an ill report on our Lord.

There is one thing that is always wrong. That is taking the name of the Lord in vain. This is why phrases like, "Oh my God" are so much more offensive to me that words that are traditionally viewed as "really" bad. To take the name of the Lord in vain is the curse of cursing. It is a to speak of God in a way that is irreverent. It is always sad when someone is in the habit of using, what are now, almost accepted, curse words.

We are called as Christians to live above the world. We have another standard. May our Lord help us to use our speech to edify the body of Christ and draw others to it. "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:6.

"Profanity is the use of strong words by weak people." William A. Ward

Soli Deo Gloria,