One of the features of modern life is the constant use of bad language. In busy city streets it can be a rare occasion when swear words or profanities are not heard. On television, the use of cursing and vulgar language, particularly in comedies and films, is also quite common place. Indeed, it appears that the inclusion of such language is a necessary ploy, in order to engage the intended audience.
Of course in most cases the use of such language is unnecessary. It simply demonstrates an ignorance of language (English or otherwise). It also adds nothing to the act or scene. On the contrary, it detracts from the message that is being portrayed. It also means that the message is lost on the audience that have chosen to switch off, rather than listen to something that is rude and offensive.
Now one of the features of bad language is the constant misuse of words that describe the things that should be held sacred in life. And most commonly these relate to either our creator or to our intimate relationships. As a consequence offensive language often relates to God or sex. Hence the terms God, Jesus, Lord, and Christ, are just some of the terms that are often misused.
Complicating the issue further, however, is that over the centuries language has changed. And a term that was coined several centuries ago may have lost its original meaning. Hence the terms Jeez (Jesus), Lordy (Lord), Gee (Jesus), Gawd Blimey (God blind me), Goddam (God damn), Good grief (Good God), and Crikey (Christ).
Now, of course, on that basis one could easily ask, “Are only the first group of misused words offensive? And are the ones that have apparently lost their meaning, now OK? Or Are both groups equally as bad?” To which our answer should be based around the words of God himself. “You are not to use the name of YHWH your God in a worthless manner. YHWH will punish anyone who uses his name in this way”? (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11)
So is one group any better than the other? Or do both groups equally put God in a bad light?
Well it seems to me that the lost or forgotten profanities denigrate God, just as much as the more blatant ones. They all abuse the name of God, and they are all used in such negative contexts. As a consequence the answer must be that none of them are right. On the contrary we are to respect and uphold God’s name.
Which is why I believe that the appropriate action to offending TV programmes, is to switch them off. And if enough people did that—indeed if all Christians did that—then I’m sure that the programmers would soon get the message.
Having said that, however, I am amazed at the frequency of use of the more obscure, and forgotten, profanities, even by those who are offended by the more blatant bad language. Indeed they are used so often, that hardly anyone blinks an eye.
Posted: 13th July 2016
© 2016, Brian A Curtis