Touchstone Magazine’s blog is hosting a lively debate in its comments box on whether Christians should use dirty words. (My previous post on this topic is here.) I particularly liked Tony Esolen’s observation that “Coarseness or vulgarity is, in itself, not sinful, and in fact we can commit the sin of pride by pretending that we are too high and mighty to hear certain words; and we can commit the sin of uncharity by using certain words among those who would find them scandalous. The drill sergeant had damned well not speak like a lady; and the man addressing the PTA had damned well not speak like a drill sergeant.” Alas, I’ve been known to do both.
When I was in junior high school, I prided myself on never using profanity. Of course, I also prided myself on eating only preservative-free food, not wearing makeup, and not knowing the names of any rock bands except the Beatles. Boy, did I have a rod up my…donkey.
…and, just as words are only our agreed conventions for what we do and think, so too is our CHOICE of words for those things only convention.
We can remember that our “dirty” Anglo-Saxonisms were once, in most quarters, the convention; then superceced by the nuanced Frenchification that became preferred by our “courtly betters”, more as a matter of class distinction than anything.
Interesting post, and the comments section at Touchstone Magazine. I remember reading in one of my old purity books that, “Cuss words are like little daggers in Jesus’ heart.” Thus, every time I cussed, I’d feel pretty bad. I try not to say, “Oh my God!” and I try not to swear, but the occasional cuss word comes out every now and then. It really depends on who I’m with.
Anyways, great post – and interesting food for thought!
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