Profanity: A Christian’s View

There was a time when our society deemed certain words taboo because of their foul nature. Crude people in private settings might use these words, but they were seldom ever spoken in a public. However, as the forces of evil relentlessly assault every standard of right conduct, public decency is driven further and further away from the will of God. Speech patterns condemned by the Almighty and once frowned upon by most Americans are now in such common use that there is scarcely any resistance to them.

Bad language falls into three categories: (1) Profanity taking the Lord’s name in vain while viciously degrading/condemning others; (2) Obscenity words rooted in reference to sexual acts; (3) Vulgarity words rooted in reference to body parts/waste. Any speech that fell into these categories used to be called gutter talk (because it was the common speech of the town drunks); now we call it street talk (maybe because it is the common speech of the average person).

Human beings like to think they are in control. We like to believe that we can do or say anything we wish.We like to fit in with everyone else in the world, and what better way than to talk the way everyone else talks? However, the Christian knows that the Word of God is to regulate his speech. God has always set standards for His people regarding their speech.

Exo 20:7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Deut 5:11)

Lev 19:12 And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

Jas 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

Matt 12:36-37 Jesus said, for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

In Ephesians 5, Paul warned against three types of improper speech: filthiness shameful and obscene, foolish talking idle gossip, and conversation that is in bad taste, and coarse jesting a vulgar sense of humor. An obvious example of this kind of speech is stand-up (night club) comedy. It is sad that people derive so much pleasure from comedy routines that contain rank and ungodly talk.

The influences behind the frequent occurrence of profanity (or bad language) are many. The music and movie industries deserve top billing as the leading cause of bad language in society. Please do not ever be taken in by what the movie industry says about its product, i.e., that it only reflects society. Movie moguls are selling a bill of goods that is not meant to reflect society but to CHANGE it. Many movies that are advertised as entertainment for the whole family contain vulgarity and suggestive or lewd actions. Moreover, as people watch and listen to profanity, they become desensitized to its ill effect in their lives.

God says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for BUILDING OTHERS UP ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph 4:29). Proper language can largely be determined by its results:

(1) Will it honor God? (2) Will it create a sense of good will toward others? (3) Will it edify the listeners and encourage righteousness?

Christians must develop a proper vocabulary, and that is an ongoing process in their lives. It must be done while protecting one’s vocabulary from corrupting influences by filtering what goes into the mind.

By C. Boyd Jennings

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