>Why "Bad Words" Are Bad

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I wish I were articulate enough to write the following…If you’ve not read James Emery White you should treat yourself to googling his name and reading his stuff…Here’s his latest:

Bad Words?

A new church had a trailer, full of church supplies and equipment, stolen. In a unique reaction, they rented billboards throughout their city to communicate to the perpetrators. I would assume the goal was a unique marketing opportunity, the chance for some sympathetic financial support, and the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation with the perpetrator.

But the church may have gotten more than they bargained for, particularly from one billboard in particular:

CHURCH TRAILER THIEF,

Stealing from God…Ballsy.

From this, the church received more attention for their vocabulary than their plight.

Which may, of course, been their intent.

Regardless of where you stand on the church’s chosen use of words, it would have been difficult to have imagined any church using such a word in its marketing even ten years ago – no matter how edgy or hip they may have attempted to be.

Yet it is surely part of a larger coarsening of language in general. Consider the recent slip of Sue Simmons, a news anchor on WNBC-TV, who, while trying to get the attention of longtime partner, Chuck Scarborough, asked “What are you doing?”

Only she did not realize they were live on the air.

And she did not say “What are you doing?”

She inserted two words between “what” and “are” – and one of those was “the.”

I’ll let you do the math.

In commenting on the slip, Clyde Haberman of the New York Times writes that the most surprising thing about Simmons’ unbleeped blooper is that anyone even noticed. “The reality is that this word has been tossed about with such abandon in public for so many years that…the word is no longer shocking, just tedious.” The station certainly did not seem to mind. “She’ll continue to be on the air,” said WNBC spokeswoman Susan Kiel.

It would seem, notes sociolinguist John V. Singler of New York University, that the only remaining taboo words “have to do…with race.” And even those, he notes, depend on who’s saying them.

I don’t know that I’ve ever reflected on profanity, or even vulgar language, before. At least in terms of what makes it vulgar or profane. The words themselves have a wide variety of referents, many of them perfectly acceptable in the proper contexts, including place, religion, physical anatomy, and bodily functions.

The danger, of course, is what the use of such words – particularly to the point of numbness – does to our world.

Haberman writes of a street argument between two men. Finally, one of them shouted at the other, “I’ve only got two words to say to you.” And then he said four. Two of them were sandwiched between “shut” and “up.” You can probably surmise the missing phrase.

The point is that the man truly thought he was using only two words. And that is the problem of vulgar language:

We lose our sense of what it means to be vulgar.

James Emery White

>He took the Hit for ME!

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Regardless of how trendy and popular it may be to say that the Cross, understood Biblically, demonstrates “child abuse” – (usually by people who seem to make a characteristic of their faith by cigars and brew) here is a significant and crystal-clear reminder:

“It is Christ set forth in His blood who is a propitiation; that is, it is Christ who died. In dying, as St. Paul conceived it, He made our sin His own; He took it on Himself as the reality which it is in God’s sight and to God’s law: He became sin, became a curse for us. It is this which gives His death a propitiatory character and power; in other words, which makes it possible for God to be at once righteous and a God who accepts as righteous those who believe in Jesus. . . . I do not know any word which conveys the truth of this if ‘vicarious’ or ’substitutionary’ does not, nor do I know any interpretation of Christ’s death which enables us to regard it as a demonstration of love to sinners, if this vicarious or substitutionary character is denied.”

– James Denney, quoted by J.I. Packer in “What Did the Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution” reprinted in In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 75.

>Is This Okay for Me?

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It is imperative to realize that some activities can be “okay” for one follower of Christ and dead wrong for another. Here’s a good test from an incredible woman of the past:

If you would judge of the lawfulness or the unlawfulness of pleasure,
then take this simple rule: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the
tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, and takes off
the relish of spiritual things – that to you is sin.

Susannah Wesley