Friday, October 22, 2010

What is a Curse Word?

I know. Stupid question, right?

But lately I have heard Christians begin to debate what actually makes a word a curse word. Since the Bible never says, “Thou shalt not say the ‘s’ word,” how do we know that a word is bad? Because of this I have heard Christians justify cursing.

The Bible gives a broad command for Christians to adhere to: let no corrupt word come out of your mouth (Ephesians 4:29). The word corrupt means rotten; therefore, we should never say a rotten word, whether it is on the list of curse words or not.

First, we have to realize that there are curse words. On the night of Jesus’ arrest Peter was found guilty of using one himself. Matthew 26:74 tells us that when Peter denied knowing Jesus that he began “to curse and to swear.” This verse shows that there are curse words, and that they are wrong to use.

I’m sure whatever words Peter said were not the same curse words that we have in our culture today. Here is the point: a curse word (or rotten word) is any word that culture deems inappropriate.

If our motion picture and TV ratings system can recognize a word as being rotten, then why can’t Christians? Our culture has a list of words that are simply considered to be inappropriate, and we all know what they are. If our culture decided that the expression “holy cow!” was offensive, then I would not say it. In the mean time, I will not say the words that culture really has deemed as being inappropriate.

If you are a Christian and you want to justify profanity so badly, I can’t help but wonder why. II Corinthians 6:17 tells Christians to come out from the world and be separate, and to not touch any unclean thing. Instead of wanting to talk like the world so badly, why not try to be separate from the world. Just like I say so many times, we don’t have anything to offer the world when we are just like them.

I Thessalonians 5:22 tells Christians to stay away from the very appearance of evil, so even if you think you have the right to curse, you should still abstain from it because of the appearance. Why do we have to borrow the world’s profanity?

If you realize now that you shouldn’t say bad words, then do you also realize that you shouldn’t watch or listen to them either?

According to Paul in Romans 1:32, all who take pleasure in watching people sin are as guilty as the ones who sin. In other words, enjoying a movie, show, or song that uses curse words is just as wrong as saying the curse words yourself.

I recently heard a Christian justify her use of a three letter word that referred to a person’s gluteus maximus by saying that the Bible uses that word (think "donkey" in KJV). This is an example of culture dictating what words are profane. A word that meant donkey for so long now has a profane definition. In fact, consider that the Bible goes to great lengths to not use profanity—when it said that Peter cursed, that is all it says. Notice that Matthew didn’t say, “And Peter said, ‘Oh @$#%!’”

So for Christians I believe this issue cannot be any clearer. If there is a word that is deemed as inappropriate, don’t say it. Don’t demand that you have a right to say it, because you are not abstaining from the appearance of evil, and don’t take pleasure in listening to others use profane language.

You have the right to disagree, but please watch your language.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Change of Heart

Have you ever met a woman named Bitter? Neither have I, but I have read about one. In the book of Ruth we see a lady named Naomi, which means “my delight,” but some hard times leave her anything but delightful. Following the death of her husband and two sons, Naomi blames her problems on God and tells people to call her Bitter instead of Delight.

But then she has a change of heart. After hearing that a godly man named Boaz was providing for the needs of her daughter-in-law Ruth, Naomi again realizes that God is good. Three things ultimately help Naomi have a change of heart.

First, Ruth was loyal. In the 16th verse of the book of Ruth, Ruth makes the most beautiful pledge to her mother-in-law. Instead of staying where she was comfortable in her homeland, Ruth decides to move with Naomi, even though she had no obligation to do so following the death of her husband. Listen to this promise Ruth makes:

“Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death shall separate us.”

Ruth showed loyalty to a woman who believed that God had mistreated her, and after they moved to Bethlehem, Ruth continued to be loyal. After long days working in the field gathering food, Ruth brought home enough to give Naomi as well.

Not only was Ruth loyal, but Boaz was loving. Boaz gave Ruth food and drink, ordered his men to protect her, and he took a financial loss by providing barley for her to make bread. This man could have ignored the needs of a foreign widow, but he chose instead to show her the love of Christ. I John 3:17 says that if we see someone has a need, and we are able to meet that need and refuse to, then the love of God is not in us.

Naomi had a change of heart because Ruth was loyal, Boaz was loving, but most importantly, because God was longsuffering (patient). Psalm 86:15 says that God is “full of compassion, gracious, and longsuffering.”

Because God is God, He would be perfectly justified in wiping us out when we sin. The first time Naomi criticized God, ZAP! No more Naomi. But God is patient, preferring us to learn a lesson over annihilating us. God’s patience is a blessing, but we had better not abuse it since we don’t know when it will run out.

For the person who is not a Christian, God is being patient, allowing you time to change your heart and give your life to Him. He could have destroyed you years ago, but He has sustained you, maybe even just to read this blog, to have one more opportunity to give your life to Him.

And Christians, do you know someone who has not been saved? If you are loyal, loving, and longsuffering, then you can help them change their heart.