Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What about my language matters?

I have heard some discussion lately about ministers who are using slang and even "cuss" words in their sermon presentations and I have taken some time to really pray about this and see if my aversion to it is just my "traditional legalism" or if this is truly offensive to God and His people. My conclusion is this: it is offensive. Here is my reasoning: God told us to be a peculiar people and we can be 'in the world but not of the world" and share God's Word and Way with non-offensive language. I also know that there is a difference between using slang terms or the vernacular of a group and "cussing."

I read in Ephesians 4:29-32 that our words should be uplifting to others and that our words can actually grieve the Holy Spirit. Specifically verse 29 reads "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." When my children were young and I would hear "ugly" words, I would ask them to rephrase their sentence using better language. There is ALWAYS a better way to say what you want to say than using coarse language.

James 3:10 reads "Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way." Christians have a responsibility to control their thoughts and their words.

I understand that the reasoning behind the pastors who are using these words is that they think it will help them to relate to their audience or seem like they "fit in" with them better. I have always seen that new and young Christians want someone they can look up to, aspire towards; they would like to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, "that one day I can be stronger, better, like my leader/pastor". When we are raising our children, we don't try to be their buddy and expect to be any kind of authority figure in their lives. No, we gently correct and admonish them so that they can grow into responsible adults. Do we not have the same responsibility as Christian leaders to set a standard above the world's and gently correct and admonish--and exemplify--a higher standard.

Above all else, when I am wondering if a specific action will enhance or hinder my ability to share Jesus with others, I rely on the wisdom found in Romans 14:21 " It is a noble thing not to ... do anything that makes your brother stumble." Will coarse talk bring a seeker or a young believer toward Christ? Would better language, fitly chosen words, bring a seeker or a young believer toward Christ? The latter seems more fitting to me.

I'm sure there is more scripture and more to be said on this subject. Bible verses continue to come to mind as I am writing this. The point is that we ARE responsible for what comes out of our mouths and we must be salt and light to the world in which we live.

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things," Philippians 4:8