By Bryce Shockley, Contributing Writer
Profanity permeates every part of our culture. It is on our television, it is in our music, and it is even at our dinner tables. Beyond that, profanity has gradually made its way into the church. In my time here at Asbury, I have heard crude language and crass joking that could compare with the large public high school I attended. Sometimes, it’s even worse.
It seems that there is not much resistance when comes to the guarding of our speech. Many self-professing Christians even seem to relish in the fact that they speak however they want to. Cussing among those claiming to be Christians seems to be the cool and makes many feel relevant. However, we compromise our witness when out of the same mouth we sing praise songs to God in Hughes, then use that same holy name in vain in the dorm. James 3 explains the power we hold in our tongue.
Often times, when I bring up my views on swearing I am looked at in shock for my out of date, Puritanical views. So, let me make the point very clear that I am more than capable of swearing. It has definitely been a struggle during parts of my life, but our struggles and sin should never be embraced or accepted. I understand that there are different ways people are raised and that many words are looked to be more acceptable to others. However, it comes down to the simple fact that the Bible is not vague on this point. In Ephesians 5:4, Paul says, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” I am baffled that so many do not seem to see this issue as a problem at our university. The most shocking part about having to address the problem of Christians not caring about their speech is that that is even a problem to address in the first place.
Paul, in Ephesians 4:17 states, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” How do the gentiles (the non-christians) that Paul is talking about live? We know exactly how they live if we have been born again. We look at the culture and see how they talk, we see how they dress, we see how they live. In contrast, we are called by Christ in Matthew 5 to be salt and light to the Earth; a salt and light that is to be completely different than the world.
“The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth” (Proverbs 10:20). Note the parallel between the tongue and the heart. “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5). So while we may have examined words, the issue strikes much deeper – as deep as the heart. Are we truly seeking to follow Christ and live like him in all that we do or are we merely trying to hold on to words and actions that we know are sinful? Matthew 7 states that you will “know them by their fruits.”
If someone were to look at your life, see the way you speak and think, would there be any reason for him to honestly think you are a Christian? Do you live or talk any different than the world? I urge to anyone reading this that you live a life that exemplifies purity of heart, mind and speech. Be vigilant in guarding the way you speak and pray to God daily that he will help you in purifying your speech. For the sake of your witness, or the witness of other Christians I implore you to take what I have discussed seriously. We are called to be set apart, holy and pure. Only by God’s grace is that possible.