Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Formulaic Cursing

There is a phenomenon in our culture when I find quite intriguing. If I quote a "curse word" that someone else has said, I have "cursed" myself. However, if I say that someone is a moron, it may make them angry, but nobody has been really offended.

The problem? A four-letter word gets one in worse trouble than an actual insult. Is the word itself the real problem? Is this what the average person should be on guard against?

I think, when put in this perspective, it should be quite obvious that our ears are not trained to hear actually offending phrases, but only key words that are usually in those phrases.

Ephesians 4 discusses unity in the body of Christ, and as part of the discussion, Paul, the author, makes a statement: "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. . . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

"Only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs." Wow. This goes way beyond avoiding insults. In fact, we aren't suppose to say anything unless it is actually beneficial toward meeting the needs of the other person. What would happen if we actually did this?

Wow, it got quiet all of a sudden.

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