Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thoughts on Language and Profanity


Image by Jessie Wilcox-Smith
courtesy of allposters.com

Here it is, Thursday again!! Somehow I have fallen into posting a mere two days a week. School is upon us for sure! Have your calendar days begun filling in? Mine certainly have. I am not at all inclined to be a "runner": someone I think of as constantly running to and fro from activity to activity. I prefer to be home most of the time and thus far, we've kept our extracurricular activities to a minimum and/or combined (meaning it is something both my children are involved in or all of us as a family). I simply don't fare well with a hectic schedule.

Last night was one of the new activities of the new season. I hosted a Ladies' Bible study at my home. We will be meeting every other Wednesday evening and we will be selecting a Beth Moore study. Have you ever done a Beth Moore study? Among all that I have done, she is my favorite. She is such a dynamic speaker (all of her studies come with DVD's with about a half hour of her teaching) and studies the Word so thoroughly. I learn so much every time! My pastor's wife (who is also my next-door neighbor) is leading the study. The children will be next-door at their house having an activity time with Miss Nancy, my pastor's mother, in which they will study character qualities they wish to have (or that we wish them to have!!).

Having clean language is one quality I have always wanted my children to have and have therefore maintained around our home. My husband and I have never sworn around them and if you'd ask them what a "bad" word is, they might say something like "shut up" or "stupid." Maia, at 10 1/2, was surprised yesterday when she found the word, "stupid" in a definition in the dictionary. She said, "Mama, I didn't think they'd have a word like that in there!"

It's not that they have never heard a swear word before, but truthfully, at this point, they do not recognize them as such. I have learned that, as there are many words of which a child does not know the meaning, if they hear a swear word in a film or, unfortunately out of the mouths of some other adults in their lives, they do not recognize them as something bad. One key, I think to this is that we never react when one occurs.

First, I will say, that we avoid most known television or movies that we know will have foul language. That said, it seems that many words I was taught were off-limits to me, as a child, are now frequently used in common conversation on television (another reason to be vigilant about viewing habits altogether!). If a word does come up, though, we don't laugh or act offended or cover their ears or comment at all. It is ignored, and as such, finds no reaction in my children either.

It is the reaction, of course, that the profane mouth seeks. I loved hearing Bill Cosby talk about profanity once. I do not have a direct quote of his, but he had said something about the use of profanity in comedy or any other language revealed one's lack of vocabulary. Profanity is used when someone does not seem to have a better or more accurate word to say. Instead of seeming ignorant, the user swears and hopes to appear stronger, more intelligent, funnier, or more intimidating than he actually is.

When my children have asked me what some of the words are that I don't want them to use, do you think I share those with them? My answer has always been, "I don't want to tell you something I don't want you to say and I don't wish to say it myself." Someday, I know my girls will hear and understand what some of those crude words in our culture are, but at that point, they will likely have a better understanding and opinion of them and why they are used.

Along these lines, now that I think of it, is the use of God's name in vain. Since becoming a Christian again nearly ten years ago now, my ears have been very sensitive to that very thing. What a waste and a shame that Jesus' name should be used in anger or frustration when He was the kindest most loving person who ever lived and who gave His life away for us. If you are a Christian reading this and this is a habit of yours, I would strongly urge you to consider what it is you are actually doing and what kind of example you are giving to your children if you have them and to others - Christian and non-Christian alike. What kind of respect and honor are you showing to your God if you use His name so callously?

As happens many times, I intend to sit down and write one thing here and, as with my own, personal journaling, something completely different comes out! Well, it must be then, what was needed to be said! I hope that it blesses you in some way today. :)
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