Do you think your verbal expressions are justified? You rather enjoy the inadvertent blush of some less-trendy peers or the blanch of the older generation? And of course you have strong feelings, so you need strong expressions to express them.
And this is part of our freedom in Christ, isn’t it? And after all, these are only words.
They’re only words. That’s what I was told by my eighth-grade teacher when I spoke to her about the profanities being uttered all around me. Only words.
Sort of like the Bible.
When I was editor of the yearbook at my small Christian college, I showed my mother the finished product with pride. She appropriately admired this and that, but then came to one picture.
“This is profanity, Becky.”
I was shocked. Profanity? In the Christian college yearbook? That I edited?
I looked at the picture. A student was running an obstacle course stepping through tires, and the caption—which I had written—read “Treading on holey ground.” Profanity. Because I had taken something Holy . . . and used it to make a joke.
Profanity? I had thought it was simply cleverness.
Profanity? “You’re making a light thing of the holiness of God.”
Profanity? I felt the hot blush of shame.
“God is big enough to take it,” you say. Oh yes, He is. Always. He was big enough to take it when Nadab and Abihu offered their profanity, making light of the holy things of God. He was big enough to take it. They weren’t.
After all, it was only Fire, Lord.
And so, when you toss God’s Holy Name around as if it were a ping pong ball, when you throw out expletives that treat His eternal punishment as if it were something people experience often in the vicissitudes of life, when you marry the concept of the supreme righteousness and glory of God with the concept of the most detestable of refuse, will you feel a sense of shame? Will yours be the face to blush?
The Jewish Talmud uses only-words to declare that Jesus will boil for all eternity in a pot of human excrement. Jesus, our Holy Savior. Jesus, God in the flesh.
I imagine that the haters of Jesus Christ enjoy a good laugh over the Christians’ free use of language. “Yes, they’re only words,” they’ll encourage you.
Just like Jesus Christ. The Holy One. Only the Word. The very Communication from God, who has said that our words will reflect our hearts.
Lift up His Holy Name. Use your words to do it.