Do you remember the story about the young man who joined a monastery? His first day the board of elders informed him that to be a member, he had to take a vow of silence for three years. But every year on his anniversary, he could say two words. After the first year, he appeared before the board and they asked him to say his two words. He said, “bed hard.” The second year he said, “food cold.” The third he said, “I quit!”
The board met privately and then reported back to him that they accepted his resignation. But then they scolded him and said, “We expected you to quit because all you have done is complained since you got here.”
It is for certain that words matter. Consider these words: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Those words matter.
What about these words by Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Those words matter, especially to a fish.
You see, your words have impact. Lord Byron wrote: “But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling, like dew, upon a thought produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions think.”
Daily we are bombarded with words. Passwords, advertising, talk radio, news print, texts, and social media is jam-packed with words that influence. Our ears are often filled with uninvited utterances.
Unfortunately, profanity has become a blue-tsunami that is sweeping over our country and is causing unspeakable destruction. People are speaking horrendous curses in movies, protests, rap music, sports, and speeches. In the past, a normal person could find a quiet respite from back-alley profanity. Now, what has been said in barrooms and side-street clubs has become headlines.
I call for an end to profanity being used in public and in the workplace. It has become a raucous scourge on our society. It trashes decency, civil discourse, and ethical standards. Public profanity never obtains a peaceful response. It is like throwing gasoline on a simmering fire.
If you have ever been cursed by your boss or co-worker, you know the harm that it does to your spirit. Profanity attacks business morale and creates a hostile work environment. Many experts consider workplace profanity as a form of bullying.
The Bible speaks against the use of cursing and profanity. Exodus 20:7 tells us to not take the name of the Lord in vain. Jesus said that our words will condemn us (Matthew 12:37). The Apostle Paul instructed us to remove “filthy communication from your mouth (Colossians 3:8). Paul also suggests that profanity grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:29).
When I was a teenager, I tried out some cool “alley-words” on my mother…once. She cried. Then, she asked me “what if your curse came to be? What if some soul was damned to hell because you sent them there?”
Later another disconcerting thought crossed my mind. We read in John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh.” Jesus, who is the Word of God, came to us in human form. He brought Salvation, healing, and liberty. God’s Word came to be in a physical presence. The thought that a word could take physical form is stunning.
I would never want my profane words to take actual form. I would be appalled and deeply sorrowful. And so, I restrain my words to not include profanity. Join me in the prayer of Psalm 141:3 (KJV), “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: keep the door of my lips.”