Have you noticed how our society has become ruder, cruder, and lewder—at almost every level? Have you been concerned by the negative effects a coarsened language has had on us, as well as our families and friends?
At the same time of the rise of these negative effects in our language, many positive aspects of our western civilization have diminished. Chivalry has disappeared. Civility has suffered. Character qualities have weakened. What is causing this social declination and dysfunction?
Cursing and swearing in public has, unfortunately, become common practice—with many women, as well as men; with girls as well as boys. There seem to be few “safe spaces” from the assault of foul language and free-floating rage. Crude “F-Bombs” are heard, with impunity and without apology, in all walks of life.
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“Dirty words” have had to be bleeped for decades on broadcast television—from the mouths of actors and athletes, as well as politicians and presidential candidates. Coarse and crude language seems to flow freely on cable television and in movies. It has been known to escape from the self-censorship of radio and television talk shows. Even little children have been heard to use crude terms and lewd expressions on playgrounds!
The Bible says “…the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Our modern, profane reality reveals a problem with our inner selves, often fed by the increasingly lewd content found in our music, movies, and television shows. Unsurprisingly, swearing habits are often influenced by the gross and often grotesque content found in our favorite music. We learn the offensive words along with the music and, whether we would tend to ever use those words otherwise, they are embedded in our minds and souls and soon contaminate our thoughts and speech, as well.
Also, “social media” allows for nearly anonymous comments, texts, and attacks— globally. People don’t feel accountable for their own actions or words. Rather than declare and defend our thoughts or opinions with civil words and respect for the dignity and opinions of others, we lower ourselves to attack others with name calling or vile cursing.
The increase of anger in our modern society, which is often expressed in inappropriate words or actions, is another contributing factor. This has been observed in many ways in recent years, from the inexplicable popularity of Angry Birds (Bad Puppies, et. al.) phone apps and movies, to vile video exchanges by angry men and possibly angrier women, in the recent political campaigns.
In years past, the sensitive person would guard their coarser vocabulary and acknowledge verbal slip-ups in “polite society” and say, “Please pardon my language.” But, that is rarely heard now.
While the Golden Rule may call for us to “do to others, as you would have them do to you,” the “Gutless Rule” is to attack others first and overwhelm them with our intemperate words or insensitive actions. Helpful dialog disappears when we won’t talk with people, but rather try to talk over them, so their views cannot be heard or respected. Many radio and television “talk shows” are actually “shouting matches,” which stir up or perpetuate anger.
We can do better than this!
Even self-help experts can assist sincere candidates to change or even stop their swearing habits. Avoiding explicit lyrics and other swear-happy-medium may also help suppress anger and swearing outbursts.
But the Bible describes these traits and habits as more than mere human peccadilloes. The Apostle Paul says they are spiritual issues, “works of the flesh,” and warns believers to not allow themselves to be consumed by biting and devouring one another. The passage calls those who profess to belong to Christ to live and walk by the Spirit of God, displaying the “fruit of the Spirit.” The Apostle specifically told the Ephesian believers to eliminate filthiness and foolish talk, including “crude joking.” Ephesians 5:3-4 (ESV)