Tim Johnson, editor
March 2, 2008
Today we have experts and scholars on every subject imaginable - from global warming to cotton farming. Timothy Jay is expert on cursing. He's made quite a study of it, written two books about it, and talks about it often to his students at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts where he is a professor of psychology. Mr. Jay recently reported that swearing among adolescents and pre-teens in America is on the rise. He estimates that the average adolescent uses roughly 80 to 90 swear words a day.
Mr. Jay further observed that cussing is a behavior that is often learned in the home. "It starts as soon as they learn how to talk," he says. "At a young age, they're attentive to emotions. When you're swearing to be funny or when you're angry, that just draws them right to it." In a Gallup Youth Survey published in 2001, 46 percent of teens surveyed admitted to using profanity at least several times a week or daily, while 28 percent said they heard their parents cursing on a regular basis.
The experts also say that casual cuss words are often used as "fillers" when the speaker is having trouble expressing his or her self. P.M. Forni, author of Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct observed that indeed "The profanities are the fillers. They take the place of a more sophisticated way of speaking." My daddy used to say that when a man cussed he was just showing his own ignorance.
What is the cure for this cussing epidemic? The Bible suggests a number of remedies. If you are having trouble in this area, or know someone who is, why not try or recommend the following?
1. Keep your mouth shut. If you can't express yourself without saying a curse word, then just don't express yourself. "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." (Proverbs 29:11). "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles" (Proverbs 21:23).
2. When you talk, talk less. The more words you speak, the more likely you are to say something you shouldn't -- using a curse word as "filler." "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10:19).
3. Think about how you want others to perceive you. It is a fact that the use of profanity makes a person seem less intelligent and more worldly. "Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive" (Proverbs 17:28).
4. Think about the example you are setting for others. People learn the use of language by hearing others use it. Whether we're talking about the words that a child learns from parents, or the words children learn from each other at school, we pattern our speech after the examples set by others. This implies that each of us also serves as a pattern for the speech of others. Paul told Titus to show himself to be "a pattern of good works" using "sound speech that cannot be condemned" (Titus 2:8).
5. Stay away from people and situations that make you angry and tempt you to lose control. "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul" (Proverbs 22:24-25).
6. Follow the example of Christ. Jesus didn't curse. Not because He didn't have opportunity to curse or because people never provoked Him. He had plenty of opportunity and provocation. But He "committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return" (1 Peter 2:22-23). In this, He left an example for us.
Can the plague of profanity in our culture be reversed? Perhaps. For that to happen, each individual Christian must determine to set the example! "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).
-- Steve Klein
Anyone who has small children or has been around them very much knows that they are born with their own personalities and peculiar tendencies. In some ways, the personality that a child has at birth will not change significantly throughout his life. The sooner parents recognize this about their child, the better they will be able to train him in a way that is most suitable to his particular tendencies.
Even though children are born with some inherent characteristics, let us understand that children certainly are not born with the corruption and guilt that comes by sin. This is the false assertion of the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity and the Roman Catholic doctrine of original sin. According to the doctrine of total depravity, man is by nature completely corrupt and incapable of any good whatsoever because of the sin of Adam and Eve. According to the doctrine of original sin, every soul inherits the guilt of Adam and Eve. The Bible does not teach these doctrines, but instead it teaches that each soul is accountable for his own actions alone and not those of others (Jer. 31:29-30; Ezek. 18:2-4; Rom. 9:10-11; 2Cor. 5:10).
In truth, corruption, evil, and sin are learned by mankind from the world. Notice 1John 2:16 - "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." God does not send souls into the world preinstalled with these wicked tendencies, but these are the things of the world that corrupt the pure souls that God creates. Man is not sinful by nature, but he learns sin as a "second nature."
Thankfully, God gives us an opportunity to strip away the corruption that we have learned from the world and start anew. Notice 2Peter 1:4 - "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." In this verse, the phrase "by these" refers to the things mentioned in the previous verse - "God's divine power," "everything pertaining to life and godliness," and "the knowledge of Him who called us." By these things, we can undo the damage that has been done to us through the things of the world.
Because of this new start, the Bible often describes a Christian as a "new creature." For example, Paul wrote, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2Cor. 5:17). Similar messages are given in Galatians 6:15, Ephesians 4:20-24, and Colossians 3:10. Although a Christian is still the same person as he was before He knew Christ, God has remade him with a new quality about him. His physical form is unchanged, but everything about his spirit is new. He has become a partaker of that "divine nature" (2Pet. 1:4). In Christ, he "in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph. 4:24). Rather than having a sinful "second nature" that he learned from the world, he learns a godly nature. The corruption from the world is taken away, and spiritually he is once again as he was when he was born - a new creature.
As a new creature, a Christian needs instruction and discipline. Like a child, he has much to learn. He will make mistakes that will require correction. Thankfully, God the Father provides the instruction and discipline that "yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:4-11). The love of the Father will cultivate within him the divine nature of which he is now a partaker.
Therefore, let us embrace this opportunity to start over. Our lives that have been ruined by sin can be saved and given a second chance to fulfill their purpose. We were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), but that image was marred by sin. Now in Christ, we can be renewed to that image and begin again. Take the opportunity, be thankful, and praise God that you can be a new creature in Christ.
-- Stacey E. Durham