It was 1960 and we lived in Pasadena, California. Each night the alleyway behind our home would be lined with cars filled with teenagers cruising the hamburger joint on the other side of the fence.
The alley provided a fascinating drama for two brothers, aged 9 and 6. Once as we stood watching the slow parade of cars, an auto with a couple of young ladies pulled alongside us and a question was posed, "What the 'blank' are you looking at?"
My brother and I stared at the girls in shocked silence. A vulgarity had come out of the young lady's mouth! We had never heard such language used by a woman (or a man, for that matter). In 1960 it was still rare to hear the public use of profanity.
How times have changed. Profanity or cussing is commonplace at school, on the job, in movies, on TV and in music. Some consider it macho and a sign of maturity. Vulgar and profane expressions are widely accepted and used, and we may even feel pressured to use this form of language in order to fit in. Perhaps you've gotten into the habit of using this kind of language.
Should we be concerned about the use of profanity? A question we might ask concerning this issue and our participation in it is this, "What are the reasons for not cussing and are there scriptures to support this position?"
Profanity is used as part of everyday language to embellish stories, in jokes and comic routines, to refer to someone, to express dismay, to put someone or something down, as well as to express anger, frustration or pain. With profane and coarse language being used so often in our society, it is easy to accept it as part of our everyday language. Even if we don't use profane language ourselves, we may have come to accept it because we hear it all too often. The use of profanity is no longer shocking.
God does not accept profanity, and He addresses this subject in the Scriptures because it has been a common problem throughout man's history. It was a problem that He addressed so His people would know how to use language properly.
Paul addresses the issue of "cussing" or profanity in Colossians 3. In this chapter, he is discussing how a person who has been baptized and become a follower of Christ should act. In verse 8 he says, "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth."
A person who is living as a follower of Jesus Christ must put filthy language out of his or her mouth. It is something that must be eliminated from the Christian's life. Put succinctly, "filthy language" should never come out of the mouth of a follower of Christ.
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul once again addresses the issue of the language we use. He says, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." In this scripture Paul not only tells us that we should not use profane language, but he also tells us what to do about it. Paul begins by saying that a corrupt word should never come out of one's mouth. There is never an appropriate time to use foul language.
The right way to speak
What type of language should we use then? Paul points out that we should use words that are "for...edification" and that "impart grace to the hearers." The Bible tells us to use language in a way that edifies or builds up.
How can our words build up and bring benefit to the hearers? How can we achieve this goal in a world where profanity is accepted?
First of all, we must determine in our minds that we will not conform to the societal trend that accepts and promotes the use of foul language or cussing. We must make a personal choice not to use any words that God or others would find offensive.
The second step is an action step. God doesn't only want us to avoid "corrupt words," but He wants us to do something about it. He wants us to take the active step of rightly using language. Once we have determined not to use profanity, we must force ourselves to only use language that will build up or in some way benefit those who hear us. As we practice using language that is pleasing to God and to man, it will soon become the natural way we express ourselves.
Profanity or cussing is all too commonplace in our world and it is hard to avoid hearing it in our daily routines. However, in the part of the world in which you can have an impact, you can make a personal choice to avoid using foul language in any circumstance. You can also express yourself in a way that builds up and benefits those who are listening. Why not follow God's instructions? If you do, God will be pleased and you will be setting a good example for others. YU