Gutter Talk Going Mainstream

ignfy_gagged.jpgTimothy Jay is one of the leading authorities on, of all things, cursing. In an article by Melanie Glover that appeared in the Charlotte Observer’s front-page on 2/25/08, I read that cursing by teens is up “90 swear words” per day. In fact Timothy Jay, a psychology professor at MIT say that curse words are used as “fillers.” That is, when a teen can’t think of anything else to say, or is pausing to think, instead of uttering, “uh” or “well” he utters an obscenity. Now what strikes me first about this article is the lengths that the scientist had to go to obtain his data. But after that I thought, “Is there any wonder?” This report comes fresh on the heels of Jane Fonda (didn’t I read that she became a Christian?) using an obscenity on a morning talk show. There have been numerous other obscenity incidents in recent days. Indeed, through obscene talk in movies, television sit coms and talks shows, and even public sporting events, gutter talk has gone mainstream. Our children, if they are led by their parents into theaters where filthy language is used, with tacit approval of the parents, come to believe that such talk is normal. And of course if parents pay good money for their little ones to be assaulted by gutter language they are, most often, using it themselves.But is there anything really wrong with it? Or is language and word usage just evolving?The Bible says that filthy talk, or “obscene talk” as the English Standard Version puts it, is a sign of a filthy heart. Such talk should be removed from the lips of God’s children. And as God’s people our lips should, through the literal cleansing of our souls, reflect words that build up, that heal, that reflect the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us. We are reminded that our bodies are God’s temple. Filthy talk is to be shunned. Moreover, we ought not to let such talk come into our hearts where we can help it. Obscene language is the overflow of a stench of the soul and the presence of the world, the devil, and an unregenerate soul.What is the answer to the situation we are facing as a nation with filthy language becoming more acceptable by society? There are ways to combat it. My wife and I demanded that we did not want our family (ourselves!) hearing obscene language in our own home, through television and DVDs. So we purchased a “TV Guard” to filter language on our television. It has helped. But our child actually first heard foul language at a Christian school. The greatest way to impact our children and even the larger society is to model Christ Jesus in our own lives, to talk a new language. And that comes from a new heart.There is no other real way.But what if you are “addicted” to cursing? Perhaps you are a new believer, and it is habit that it proving too hard to break?

First, read more and more of God’s Word. God’s Word is a cleansing power that will begin to heal you from the inside out.
Second, “pray without ceasing.”
Third, begin to offer thanks to Christ frequently. I am not advocating the sort of “praise the Lord” language that some Christians have adopted to use as “fillers” in their discourse. Rather, I am suggesting that the speaking of thanks to Jesus Christ is, in itself, a cleansing exercise of the tongue and of the heart. 
Fourth, pray for revival. Many have heard that when the Welsh revival came to that land in the early 1900s the coal-mining mules had to be re trained, because they only responded to curses. The men had been changed from the inside out by the work of the Holy Spirit. And unless God raises up a genuine movement of the Holy Spirit from heaven among us today, we will continue to hear of such reports.

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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