AROUND THE WORLD
with editorial comment by M L Natterer
Profanity seems to be one of those problems about which almost everyone agrees something should be done. Yet few of us ever do anything about it. On the contrary, most of us contribute, if not to its proliferation, at least to its continuation, by swearing ourselves or making no attempt to curb it in others. I recalled with guilt all the less-than-delicate language that had rolled off my tongue through the years – when I was mad, when I was glad, when I was trying to be dramatic and, yes, even when I had to wait in line for a few seconds … Recently I read a newspaper article that stated although Americans do have a concern about all the unbridled profanity around us every day, the reality is that we are swearing more, hearing it less …
(NEWSWEEK, October 17, 1994)
The excerpts above were taken from a lengthier article written by Sandra Maurer, director of college relations at Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa. She relates an experience she had in a convenience store about a man who burst forth with a stream of curse words and foul obscenities. As we well know, cursing is very commonplace. Whether it be in the work place, social functions or sport activities, cursing is seldom a stranger. Twenty years ago we never heard a curse word either on radio or TV. Now the programs on which there is no cursing constitute the minority. It used to be said that the reason why some people curse is due to their limited vocabulary. But this is not true. Presidents Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton, for example, – all very well educated men – yet their language, at least when not before the public, was invariably laced with profanities. How often we even hear so-called Christians yield to this sin in a moment of weakness. Writing to the Christians the Apostle James admonishes, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (3:10). Remember the example of that disciple who had been with the Savior for three years and had witnessed the miracles He performed and heard the gracious words of life from His lips? What a sad scene is pictured to us as that disciple denies his Lord and Savior with cursing and swearing! (Mark 14:71). We Christians should therefore constantly pray with the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (141:3). Let there be no mistake! Taking God’s Name in vain is a sin against God Himself who commands, “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). Taking God’s Name in vain is a trait of God’s enemies. The Psalmist says that those that hate God “speak against Thee wickedly, and Thine enemies take Thy Name in vain” (139:20). In the Old Testament those who cursed were stoned to death (Lev. 24:10-16). A far worse fate awaits those who take God’s Name in vain and do not repent! Such “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:9). God has given us our tongues not to curse, but to “show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (2 Pet. 2:9).