Monday, October 11, 2004

UNSPEAKABLE THINGS

When a child says something naughty, an attentive parents says, "we don't say that." Children learn that some things are not permissible to say. High School students tell me that foul language in the classroom and halls is common. The F-word is all too common. Maybe not enough parents are telling their children what they can't say. And teachers are using coarse language. This kind of language is creeping onto the television and radio. In one study, "analysts found that foul language during the family hour (8 to 9 p.m.) increased by 95 percent between 1998 and 2002. It increased by 109 percent during the 9 p.m. hour and 39 percent during the 10 p.m. hour"1 It seems to be only a matter of time before the dirtiest language is permissible on the airwaves. That is, unless those who are concerned about this trend speak out and demand a reversal of course.

If you don't have something good to say, say nothing at all. What we learned as children is what God wants too. Jesus warns that there will be an accounting for every careless word that is spoken (Mt. 12:36). We know from James that it is not right for good and bad things to spew from the same mouth (Jas. 3:10). Moses writes, "do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth" (Ex. 23:13). And Joshua echoes, "you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them" (Josh. 23:7). There is a principal involved here when you can't even say the name of the false god. The more you speak, hear, or see something, the more comfortable you become with it. It becomes familiar and accepted. There is a beauty of innocence that still blushes over evil (Josh. 6:15; 8:12). Ignore this principle and the tongue and mouth are, in a sense, soiled through the exercise of chords, tongue, and lips. So detestable are these things, that the Believer is embarrassed to even mention them.

It is shameful to talk about some things. So Paul warns the "busybody" widows that some things are "not proper to mention" (1 Tim. 5:13). And Paul says to the Ephesians, "it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret" (Eph. 5:12). This principle is not about being ignorant; but about being innocent. A parent is wise to never say curse words, and to require that one's children respect the same principle. Don't soil your lips.

The Bible shows this is a moral issue. A Christian turns from sin and strives to be holy in his conduct. To be a Christian, one must denounce filthy talk and choose to speak what is decent and pure. Paul said, "let your speech always be with grace,..." (Col. 4:6). Our language ought to be more like a gift and less like refuse. To the Ephesians, Paul said, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will given grace to those who hear" (Eph. 4:29). The word "unwholesome" means "insipid", or "lacking taste or savor." Paul says to avoid "filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting" (Eph. 5:4). These things are tasteless, graceless; they are unspeakable. The Believer makes a choice to stop one and do the other. A wise person restrains his lips that they do not sin (Pro. 10:19). Some things ought not be said. Remember the Proverb, "That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge" (Pro. 5:2). There are some things we just don't say.
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