ISSUES OF FAITH: Salty language can leave bad taste in mouth

A MEMORABLE SCENE in the iconic movie, “A Christmas Story,” is with Ralphi and the red bar of Lifebuoy soap, which his mom put in his mouth because he had said a bad word.

The first curse word in a movie was used in 1929. In 2013, a popular movie had over 700 expletives. What a change!

I’m not old, but I’m not young either. I’m old enough to recognize that I hear cuss words more and more in work settings, in public places, from young and old, just about everywhere I go.

I’m always surprised that someone would use foul language while talking with me when they don’t know me very well. They have no idea whether I am someone who would find that language offensive. And maybe that is it. It seems that many people do not even recognize that they are using offensive language.

For some, it appears to have become so much a part of their vocabulary that there is not a second thought about using profanity in any setting.

We hear obscenities in music, in movies and on TV shows. We read it in books and social media.

I was watching a car restoration video with my kids recently on YouTube, and the next thing I know I’m reaching to turn it off. I know that our kids hear bad words at school, but we don’t want it in our home, and certainly not on a video that I’m sharing with them. I don’t want this language to seem commonplace to our children and become part of their vocabulary.

There are companies like VidAngel and Clearplay that remove profanity from movies and shows, and I’m glad those are available. I wish it were more common to have clean uplifting music, movies and media. I find myself looking at the parents’ guide before every movie we watch to see if it is appropriate. You can’t assume that movies with kids as their target audience will be profanity-free. In fact, it’s pretty rare today to have no bad language, even in animated and kids’ movies.

In Ephesians 4:29, we are taught, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are 13 Articles of Faith. Number 13 says, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul — We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

Profane, vulgar or crude language is offensive to the Lord and to others who might be around. In Exodus 20:7, we read, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

In the Church’s youth guide called, “For the Strength of Youth,” it says, “Make sure your language reflects love of God and others — whether you’re communicating in person or virtually. Say things that uplift — nothing that might be divisive, hurtful, or offensive, even as a joke. Your words can be powerful. Let them be powerful for good.”

We can do better. We can elevate our language. We can teach our children to avoid swear words. We can be more mindful when speaking to others, to use appropriate language.

I won’t go around putting soap in everyone’s mouth, although I might think about it! But seriously, I do greatly appreciate those who try to use clean language around me because they know of my beliefs and my use of clean language.

I applaud those in Hollywood and other media sources who provide clean, family-friendly content.

Our words can be powerful for good.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles, ComeUntoChrist.org. His email is jasonbring@gmail.com.

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