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The Scripture Blog

Vulgar Language

Recently, our President led us into a discussion about the kind of language we use. Although much more has been made of the possible racist tone of the language rather than the vulgar language itself, it’s difficult to pass up the chance to comment on the kind of language we increasingly use or hear anywhere, anytime, for any reason. We’re also provided the chance to see what scripture has to say on the subject.

Call me prudish, but it seems to me that the sheer quantity of vulgar or obscene language in our society has become oppressive. TV shows and movies have become the purveyors of such language to the point of making a sailor blush, as the saying goes. We’ve become expert lip readers by watching sporting events and hearing with our eyes coaches and players spout a plethora of obscenities.

It’s also become the acceptable language of boardrooms, workplaces, schoolhouses, playgrounds, and everywhere. Is it all really necessary? What good does it do? Do children have to be exposed to this drivel at a younger and younger age?

I once heard a story about a CEO who was quite circumspect with the language he used. He never cursed. He never came close to using a vulgar or coarse term. But one day, because of a sudden breakdown in the production of his company’s products, he called all employees together to express his disappointment and anger. In his heated talk to the employees, he used the word “damn.” As one employee commented, “You could have heard a pin drop.”

If you’re going to curse or use coarse language, make it count for something. Otherwise, it just becomes a gratuitous way of talking, tantamount to a flow of filth from the mouth.

Oh yes. And what does scripture have to say about using language of this sort? Perhaps the scripture that most directly addresses this kind of language is Ephesians 5:4 (NIV): “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” There you go. Instead of using a vulgar or obscene or coarse word, use a word of thanksgiving.

4 comments… add one
  • Brian January 16, 2018, 10:57 AM

    thank you for these good words!

    • John B. Phillips January 16, 2018, 11:50 AM

      Brian, I appreciate your word of thanksgiving, and I always appreciate your encouragement. Hope all is well with you. John

  • Martha Elder January 16, 2018, 10:50 AM

    Well said… as Pogo said,” I have met the enemy and it is I”…. spin is in… criticism is cool… accountability is “outsourced”, as in “ not me”….talk is cheap.. investigation is in…. power is more important than promise.. separation from our loving God is evident… BUT I remain postive and optometrist and know God is in the midst of it all as we” all grumble in this wilderness as did the children of Isreal”….

    • John B. Phillips January 16, 2018, 11:54 AM

      What a comment, Martha! It could be a blog post in and of itself. I know your positive outlook has a good effect on others when negativity seems to pervade much of our world. Thank you. John

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