Of course it’s possible that the tongue would flap forming incoherent and generally disruptive sounds of no value, however for most of us our language is not gibberish but an intelligible and intentional composition of words and thoughts conveying what is in our minds, and more frequently, what is in our hearts. There has been this increasingly irritating movement of profanity among those professing to be Christian. Why would such a thing happen? Does God’s word say nothing of the matter? Of course He does. A quick google search will turn up over 30 scriptures that are dedicated to wholesome talk. I’ll pick just one.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. – Colossians 3:5-8
Let me preemptively list some initial comments that may come in opposition of this blog. You may be tempted to say, What counts as unwholesome talk? What words would constitute the canon of filthy language? What if I don’t think it’s a bad word? What if it’s a bad word in my country but not a bad word in another country? Why are you judging me? They are just words. It just slipped out. Why are you preaching judgment and not proclaiming grace? Are you legalistic? It’s a relationship, not a religion. Your view on bad language is dogmatic. Etc. Etc.
For so many who would speak out against relativism, we sure like to apply it in the area of our tongue. The challenge here is that the bible does not give us a list of swear words that we shouldn’t say. It does not present an “unholy language checklist”. Instead, we get principle and implication, which we will have to apply to this righteous quandary.
OK, here it goes *taking a deep breath*.
We were once living in sin. All of us. You, me, your momma, your aunt’s sister’s roommate. Then, we collided with agape love, an incomprehensible and COSTLY grace that redeemed us of our sins. Paul makes it clear in Romans 6:15 that even though grace has trumped the law (dogma), it doesn’t mean we should continue in our sin. We become “slaves to obedience” that leads to righteousness. I can already hear another question, “who are you to judge if someone is righteous?” Thankfully, that’s not my area expertise nor does it fit my Christian lifestyle job description. God’s word is capable of judging, proactively and progressively as it is “living, active, and sharper than a double edged sword”. What happens when we apply God’s word to a sinful life (sin = transgression against God’s divine law)? We find two results. Grace and Judgment. We either confess our sins and He who is faithful and just will forgive us of our sins and purify us of unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), or we refuse grace and we the end result of our sin and unrighteousness WILL be judgment.
Sometimes we forget that we should have NO fellowship with darkness, but instead of avoiding the relationship we flounder around attempting to define what is really dark and what is just one of the fifty shades of grey. All of that to say, we are missing the point. Why do we try to use grace as an excuse for spiritual rebellion or immaturity? Anytime God’s Word exposes unrighteous living, our response as a Christian should be to move toward righteousness. This is not legalism. This is not a works based religion. This is simply desiring to please God with all of who we are, not just the parts we are comfortable surrendering.
If a fellow Christian has a hard time forgiving, we would pull out God’s Word and help them to align with a heart that has forgiven us and desires that we forgive others (Matthew 6:14). If someone lived in sexual immorality, we would bring out God’s word and help them live a sexually pure life. If someone possessed lust, greed, or any other unrighteous thoughts or actions, the responsibility of love would be to confront and spur one another toward good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). It’s not just role of the leader. It’s the role of family. If my brothers and sisters have committee their lives to Jesus, I genuinely want to help them live the best lives possible in representation of the grace that has covered a multitude of sins (especially my own). I would hope they would love me so much to keep me in line with His Word as well. What does all of this have to do with profanity or unwholesome talk?
God is not for it, neither should we be. No excuses. No wasted time with inadequate definitions or one-sided semantics. We know what words are considered “curse words”. Let’s not feign naivety. We know when we are not building others up. We know when we are not encouraging. We know when we are divisive. Luke 6:45 declares, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
We used to walk in these ways when we once lived in sin. It’s not about shock factor – the message of the cross has enough without needing our help. It’s not about freedom – not all freedom is beneficial. Despite my considerable flaws, at the core of my heart I don’t want to look like everyone else.
I want to look like Jesus
I want God to be proud that I don’t seek to fit in with surrounding culture. Some may say, “This is such a minor issue.” Is it? Is any issue minor when it makes us look more like the world than the Word?
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14.
Please Lord, help my words to be pleasing to you every second of every day. Let them be full of the grace you showed when you suffered an died on the cross for my sins, so that I would not drown in unrighteousness but become righteous through your sacrifice.