The dictionary defines "profanity" as "irreverence for God; impious, base, a profane act or utterance." Profane speech is typically language that involves taking God's name in vain, vile or vulgar, viciously degrading to others, or gutter in nature. The Bible regulates man's speech (Exodus 20: 7, James. 3: 10, Mt. 12: 36, 37).
1. The prevalence of profanity. According to some of the latest statistics, public profanity in America is up by 800 percent. One can expect to hear loud profanity in many public places; even those that attempt to provide a family atmosphere. Even women and children have been known to use profane language without shame or regard for others. A deceased relative used to say that one using profanity showed one of two things: (1) a lack of intelligence and limited vocabulary, or (2) a deliberate attempt to show ones lack of decency.
2. Common influences of profanity. The frequency of public and private obscenities comes to bear through many influences:
A. The entertainment industry deserves top billing in making shameful and corrupt speech more acceptable. Many movies once considered family oriented now contains vile, filthy, and cheap language. As people watch television, they become more desensitized to the language used. We have come a long way since "Gone with the Wind" in 1939. The turmoil over a four-letter word caused such upheaval that the movie almost failed to make it to the silver screen. The four-letter word used was a violation of God's principle of decency and virtue. Yet, today we see little restraint with the profanity used in the movie theaters of our nation.3. God's word condemns profane language of all types. Notice the list found in Ephesians 5:4.
B. The movement to promote filthy speech in America. According to the New York Times the three major television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) have pledged: "to restore their endangered audiences by putting more dirty words on the air. The networks have decided to fill their scripts with every crude word imaginable, including one considered to be on the extreme reaches of decorum." This is not a joke dear reader it is a movement. The author continues: "Aaron Sorkin of NBC is hoping his network will break with tradition and allow one of his characters to 'curse in a way that uses the Lord's name in vain.' A ground swell of righteous indignation should spring from our voices, letters, and e-mail, while shunning those sponsoring such programming.
C. Most stand-up comedians would be speechless if all profanity was removed from their scripts. The goal, seemingly, leads to levels of vulgar language to the point of simply wallowing in the gutter. Another reason for the driving force of immoral language is to corrupt man (Matt. 15: 15-20). Preachers should fill the pulpit with outrage on this mater. We must declare with moral clarity that which the God of heaven states as sinful. Steve Allen, Red Skelton, Bob Hope and others developed their comedic craft, a generation ago without the use of dirty and gutter language. Today, however, it is easier for comedians to get a laugh by using language befitting of human ears.
D. Reading certain material and magazines contributes to the negative influence as well.
A. "Foolish talking,” "Jesting," compare "vain words" (vs. 6). Albert Barnes, the renowned commentator states: "This word…does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means talk, which is tasteless, senseless, stupid, and foolish; which does not teach, edify, profit, the idle chitchat, which is so common in the world" (Barnes on the New Testament Vol. 7, pg. 96, 97). Christians should make it their aim to use words that are sensible, sincere, and truthful. The word "jesting" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly refers to language that is easily turned to degraded speech and has a path that leads to shameful talk.4. Useless language must become replaced with good speech. Paul declares, "Let no corrupt communication” (speech) proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers" (Eph. 4: 29).
C. Speech involved in idleness or speaking against God (Mt. 12:36, 37, 24).
D. Language that curses man (James. 3: 9).
E. Common place oaths and euphemisms of all types (Mt. 5:34-37, James 5:12, proper oaths are not condemned, Heb. 6: 17, I Thess. 2: 10).
F. Language that blasphemes God and belittles man reveals the corrupt nature of the speaker and must be "put away" (Matt. 15: 20; Col. 3: 8; James. 3: 10-12).
Proper and scriptural language must come from the proper temperament resulting in pure speech (Col. 4: 6). Many do not like or appreciate the truth as the apostle Paul writes, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth" (Galatians 4:16).
Conclusion: The Christian must develop the proper vocabulary. Such language involves the use of acceptable words to speak spiritual truths (2 Tim. 1: 13). The words we use at the work place, at play or at the meeting house where we worship reveals volumes about our personality and moral fiber. Remember, the words we use are a vehicle that reveals our character.
- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing. Bob can be contacted through his website, http://www.bobspurlin.com (©2000-2006 BOB SPURLIN).