With the growing list of shortages threatening us these days, there’s at least one commodity with no supply chain issues. Our colleges and universities keep us supplied with activists ready to take to the streets and bombard social media to declare that they’re suffering intolerable pain because of something someone said or did. Needless to say, I’m not one of those people. It’s obvious that the only thing ever really at risk in these manufactured offenses is someone’s political agenda.
A Motivating Metaphor ~
In spite of the risk of sounding like some of them, a post showed up on my Facebook page recently that bothered me and compels me to respond. It was one of those pieces shared by someone I knew and contained language that I find repulsive in any context. I don’t recall what point the lame attempt at humor was trying to make exactly, but it brought to mind a picture I had seen recently . . . Someone had painted the lid covering access to a sewer, apparently hoping to make it more colorful. As I pondered the artwork, it occurred to me that “dressing up the lid on a sewer doesn’t change the contents underneath.” For me, the picture was a metaphorical reminder of how we’ve treated the proliferation of filthy language permeating our culture. We’ve endeavored to make it more acceptable and popular, and to disguise what’s really underneath. We’ve made verbal sewage commonplace, and we’ve normalized the disgusting and sinful behavior those repulsive terms often describe. But that, in and of itself, is not the primary point I want to make.
Different Expectations ~
Filthy language is deplorable, regardless of its source, but hearing it from those who are not followers of Jesus Christ is not all that surprising. I don’t collapse into a state of paralysis when I hear it from folks who take pride in their anti-Christian approach to life. If they have rejected Jesus and His teaching, then uninhibited demonstrations of whatever other belief system they hold would be expected. It would be unreasonable to expect anything else. When they tend to love things Jesus warned us not to love, act in ways He taught us not to act, and engage in relationships He said not to engage in, I’m not shocked. So, when filthy garbage spews from their mouths or social media accounts, it’s not surprising. Jesus would consider it to be congruent with unregenerate hearts. What is surprising is to see or hear the same kinds of things coming from those who do claim to be His followers.
God takes words very, very seriously. They have tremendous power to affect our lives and for that reason, He monitors every one of them. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, for us to devote more serious attention to the words we listen to, the words we say, and the words we pick up and pass around to others? Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NKJV)
Beyond that, He also said:
Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. (Matthew 15:10-11 NKJV)
Then Paul points out the significant role the mouth plays in exposing the character of those who reject God and His truth:
There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. (Romans 3:12-16 NKJV)
These are sobering indictments, and they rise up to challenge the glib disregard with which we often treat crude and foul language. The issue is highlighted and repeated in further instructions such as this pointed admonition to the Churches:
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 NKJV)
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. (Colossians 3:8 NKJV)
Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:10 NKJV)
A Radical Shift ~
In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a proliferation of language in America that, for most of our history, would never have been used in any public setting, nor tolerated in most private ones. The trend is disturbing for reasons that extend beyond personal distaste. The words we use, and/or whose use we approve of, serve as an effective spiritual thermometer. As such, it’s important to note that the words themselves are not the problem. It would be less troubling if they were, but just as a thermometer doesn’t warm or cool the atmosphere that it measures, neither does the vile language cause the spiritual decline it reveals. It only reflects the depth and extent of the moral and ethical contamination that engulfs us.
So what can we do? Let me hazard a couple of suggestions. We can begin by acknowledging the things that are not fit for consumption and that may be spiritually lethal. We must regain our ability to recognize what moral sewage looks like and remember that it is still filth, even if it’s dressed up. Toxic garbage can be made to look attractive, but as mentioned earlier, making the sewer look appealing doesn’t change the nature of it. If we wouldn’t play in an actual sewer, and would take extreme measures to protect our children from falling into it, then we should have the same attitude when it streams freely into our homes through our TVs and other electronic devices. The solutions are not complicated.
No Laughing Matter ~
Humor is one of the places where moral sewage is the most prevalent and most seductive. Humans have a tendency to think immorality and socially unacceptable behavior is funny, and we’re easily drawn into it, especially where it’s easy to convince ourselves that it’s really harmless. “I was only joking,” is a familiar excuse for promoting immoral and spiritually toxic ideas and images. The devil loves to masquerade as a comedian, and he would be delighted to see us laugh our way straight into hell. The most gifted humorists have never relied on basing their material on moral and behavioral sewage.
There’s a lot of great stuff available on the internet, but there’s a lot that simply isn’t. Some of it doesn’t even rise to the level of sewage, and some of it is so spiritually and mentally toxic that it can literally affect the course of someone’s life. Jesus said that what comes out of our mouth (or out of our social media account) tells the world what’s in our heart. If He really resides in us, then taking a second look at what we’re about to ‘Re-tweet’ or ‘Share’ would be wise. Once we send it, it’s ours at that point, whether we composed the words directly or not. God’s going to review our timeline one day. Wouldn’t it be great if the words we’ve said and the stuff we’re laughing at are things that God Himself might like enough to click the ‘Share’ button on, too?
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Just as a thermometer doesn’t warm or cool the atmosphere that it measures, neither does the vile language cause the spiritual decline it reveals. It only reflects the depth and extent of the moral and ethical contamination that engulfs us.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “If we wouldn’t play in an actual sewer and would take extreme measures to protect our children from falling into one, then we should have the same attitude toward it if it comes streaming freely into our homes. The solutions aren’t complicated.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The devil loves to masquerade as a comedian, and he would be delighted to see us laugh our way into hell. The most gifted humorists have never relied on basing their material on moral and behavioral sewage.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus said that what comes out of our mouth (or out of our social media account) tells the world what’s in our heart. If He really resides in us, then taking a second look at what we’re about to Re-tweet or Share would be wise to think about.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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