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The F-word

Submitted by admin on July 28, 2011 - 5:36pm

Let's assume for a second that you are reading about a movie, trying to decide whether to let your son go watch it with all of his friends. You find that part of the reason it got a higher rating was because of profanity. Now what do you do? Either you say, "Well, at least it isn't nudity. I guess you can go." Or you go to the parental guide on IMDB or some similar site to find out ...

How many times is the F-word used? Today that seems to be our barometer for profanity. Certainly it is viewed by our culture as one of the worst curse words. Ask about profanity in a movie, and people just assume that's what you're talking about, with a couple of other particularly common four-letter words. Certainly a Christian ought to care about this sort of "filthy talk". But I find it odd how little concern is shown for movies taking the Lord's name in vain. To a Christian, this ought to be the worst sort of profanity, but somehow it often gets a pass. Bill Cosby is clean, right? He never uses strong language. It is family-friendly entertainment, with a good moral message. Oh yeah, and he has a really funny routine talking about Jesus, that is completely blasphemous. This is only one example. There are countless others. 

Currently we are studying the Lord's Prayer in small groups. The first petition is "Hallowed be your name." This is a request that God's Name would be honored and glorified as it ought to be. But how "ought" his name to be glorified? Calvin says it is to "give to the Lord the glory due his name, so that men may never think or speak of him but with the deepest veneration. The opposite of this is to profane the name of God..." Do we as Christians really desire that God's name would be hallowed? Do we understand what that means?

It's time for us as Christians to re-evaluate our understanding of profanity. It's time for us to stop sitting on the couch with the Lord's Prayer on the wall behind us and the TV in front of us, laughing as our entertainers make light of God's holiness, feeling smug because we don't ever hear the F-word. When we pray the Lord's prayer, do we actually desire that others would only think or speak of God with the deepest veneration and respect? How can we claim that if what we watch for fun is people doing the opposite?
Let this be a warning to us, "for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." (Exodus 20:7b).

Comments

I think people too often equate crude or vulgar words with blasphemy and abusing the name of the Lord. It's all swearing or cussing. A vulgarity in the right circumstance can be entirely appropriate whereas there is no appropriate place for abusing the Lord's name. Even an inappropriate use of a vulgarity is really nothing compared to the other. How is it we have come to equate the two?

Exactly, David. But it's even worse a lot of the time. Many Christians think that vulgar words are worse than abusing the Lord's name. That's my point.

>>Exactly, David. But it's even worse a lot of the time. Many Christians think that vulgar words are worse than abusing the Lord's name. That's my point.

I guess I haven't seen much of that, most folk in my experience equate them all under the rubric of "swearing." Either way you're making a very valuable point.

I read a very condensed history of the English language recently, and it talked about the roots of Anglo-Saxon swear words, which were originally called "vulgar" for other reasons than being filthy. But more than that, it emphasized that while the f-word and the like were not looked at as pleasant (hundreds of years ago), taking the Lord's name in vain was culturally viewed as much worse. Blasphemy trumped all other vulgarity, even among the every day Joe.

Certainly, Rebecca. And it's a great loss that people don't even know what blasphemy is today.

David, I guess I should revise that. I don't think they consciously *think* of vulgarity as worse. But in my experience, hearing the F-bomb in polite company is certainly more shocking to most people than hearing somebody say, "Oh G__ ! Here comes so and so again." There's a reason that wikipedia has an article listing the movies with the highest number of times the F-word is used, not "most times the Lord's name is taken in vain". That attitude carries over into the Christian life from the culture, in my experience.

>>I think people too often equate crude or vulgar words with blasphemy and abusing the name of the Lord. It's all swearing or cussing. A vulgarity in the right circumstance can be entirely appropriate whereas there is no appropriate place for abusing the Lord's name. Even an inappropriate use of a vulgarity is really nothing compared to the other. How is it we have come to equate the two?

Huh, they've been equal in my mind too. Where did that come from?

I think it must be from fathers not teaching the difference. I can't imagine a father teaching that bathroom humor is as bad as blasphemy, but it is a mother's natural instinct to react uniformly against anything that seems rude or even socially awkward. We fathers tend to view rough speech as a guilty pleasure, as an unrighteous act that we wink at, and this affects even how we view such speech in the Scriptures when the prophets, apostles and Jesus use such speech. We smirk and think, "Ha! Look what they got away with." That's wrong! All our speech should be for a purpose, even vulgarity.