PSA: Teenagers and Language

weneedtotalkThis blog is a short sort of public service announcement regarding the declining quality of our language in the United States. I have noticed a particular lack of vocabulary among our youth. Whether this strange degradation is due to the education system, entertainment, or the general defiling of society is up for debate. However, as a favor to the youth of our culture, I’d like to offer three observations.

  1. Your words reflect your heart… what is it that you want to say?

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” –Matthew 12:34

The passage above illustrates that the language we use and the words that flow from our mouth is a reflection of what is in our heart. When you use vulgar language, you are reflecting a vulgar heart. (Teenagers! Please pay attention. This part is for you.) Your use of cuss words and vulgar speech does not make you look strong or cool. You look like a donkey and you sound like one to. Please stop, especially if you claim to have ever been close to me. Stop it! When a teenager uses profanity it is much like a tiny fluffy puppy ferociously barking, then throwing up, and finally eating its own vomit. That’s what you look like, seriously. First, everyone thinks, “awwww… cute little puppy!” Then we think, “Oh no… gross.” Then we have to turn away as you defile yourself. So please stop. We know you want to be a grown up and use the full value of language, just please wait to experiment with profanity. At least wait until you have read a few more books.

Now, to be clear, there is a time for profanity. Jesus here calls the Pharisees a “brood of vipers.” This as close to a curse word that the first century afforded. There is a time to use harsh language. Jesus, in His perfection, uses offensive language to address the self-righteous. But that is not what we see in our own “Christian culture.” Today, people prove their own ignorance by using offensive language as if it is perfectly acceptable. It has actually been extremely interesting to watch people who consider themselves Christians use offensive and profane speech in casual circumstance. It is as if we have acquiesced to the culture’s pleas for acceptance and toleration with complete assimilation.

Further, our choice of words reveals something about us. It shows that we are not holy and are not loving. Profane language is an abuse to others and Christians are actually encouraged not to use it. Colossians 3:8 commands us to put away “obscene talk,” and Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Now, if we’re honest, there is no fitting occasion for us to use profanity precisely because it is rare that profane language could ever “build up.”

  1. Your words expose your intellect

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent”. – Proverbs 17:27-28

When we speak, we advertise our intelligence. We’re not that smart, don’t advertise it. Consider for a minute the kind of publicity vulgarity gets people. Most well known celebrities who constantly use profanity are famous for foolishness. They make no lasting impact on society other than degradation. They are a blight on society and people are drawn to listen to them much like they are drawn to stare at a train-wreck. There is a particular elite talk show host who claims to be wise but consistently uses profane language. Each time he opens his mouth he validates his own vulgar ignorance. There are particular political candidates that could be accused of the same magnificent arrogance.

Let the above proverb serve as a warning. The more you speak, the more people see who you are. If you are foolish, it is better to stay silent and leave a mystery than it is to speak and be revealed for the dolt you are. If you think you are wise, it is better to prove it in silence then to speak and be proven wrong. Hold back your uneducated tongue and people may consider you wise, for the one who tames the tongue is wise indeed! (c.f. James 3:8) Read some great literature, develop your vocabulary and intellect, then you may have something worth saying. Read books, enjoy great artworks, and make an effort to learn and culture yourself. If you do this, you’ll have something valuable to contribute to society.

  1. Your words can change the world

When I was little, I was told a rhyme that is a great fabrication: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is not true. Your words matter to the individuals around you. They can shape and change the destiny of others. Use them for the benefit of others and you will change the world!

This concludes my public service announcement. Respond appropriately.