Posted Jan 16, 2018 by Michael L. Brown

Go ahead and call me a prude. Label me as puritanical if you like, an old-fashioned Bible-thumper, a fossil, an antique. Bring on all the insults you can muster. Say what you will. I still believe profanity is profane. I still believe that certain words should not be used in everyday, public discourse. I still believe that higher standards of communication correlate with higher standards of behavior. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

To be sure, I believe that a cutting remark or a harsh insult can do more damage than dropping the F-bomb. And I understand that, in the course of life, people will speak freely, and for many, that means using profanity.

I’m certainly not advocating a snowflake mentality when it comes to vocabulary, meaning that, if you say one word that I find offensive, I will melt. Not at all. I’m simply talking about standards. About being honorable. About reducing the amount of profanity and vulgarity that has become so pervasive in articles and headlines and tweets and posts. Am I crazy to feel this way?

A few years back (I can’t remember exactly when), I was listening to sports radio in my car when I noticed the host using the a—word a lot, something that struck me as odd. Was this always legal, or was it a more recent development? Not long after that, I heard the same word used repeatedly on a sports-related show on TV. For me, this didn’t enhance the shows or increase my esteem for the hosts.

Not long after that, I began seeing the s--- word in online sports columns and articles. “When did that happen?” I wondered.

Now, with the President’s alleged “s---hole” comment, some networks are using the word multiple times in a single hour, and some publications, which initially refused to spell the word out, are spelling it out in full. All this in a matter of days.

At the same time, Cinema Blend reported that, “Saturday Night Live Dropped An F-Bomb And An S-Bomb On NBC Censors.”

Will this somehow make us better as a people, as we cast off restraint and speak our minds? Or will this contribute to the vulgarizing of our culture. I say the latter.

President Trump is hardly the first president to use profanity (meaning, behind closed doors, or at the least, away from a mic), but this is the first time that it seems the whole nation now feels empowered to be profane. Why? And why was it that many Trump supporters cheered him on when he dropped the F-bomb early in his campaign? What’s to celebrate?

And while our communication has been getting more profane, it has also become much more explicit sexually. It’s not enough to report that a woman alleges that a famous man assaulted her. We must hear the details of what they did and how they did it.

In the past, such salacious reports would have been found in the crassest tabloids, if not porn magazines. Today, they’re part of our daily news intake.

Surely, this desensitizing is hurting us more than helping us. Surely, we do better to leave certain things unsaid. (For the record, I’m glad that this epidemic of sexploitation is getting exposed. I’m simply questioning whether the general public needs to know every detail.)

But it’s not only a matter of words. It’s a matter of images as well.

Again, I can’t place the exact year, but I remember seeing a picture of someone nude from the back, posted on a normal news site. I was shocked. Since when did this become legal? And as the years go on, it seems more and more flesh is being exposed.

Do I believe that there are other issues far more important than exposing too much flesh? Of course I do. But that doesn’t mean we ignore the profaning and downgrading of our culture. And how in the world are we going to win the war against the sexploitation of women when their nearly-naked bodies are displayed online for the world to see, virtually 24/7 (and with their consent, at that)?

There is something positive to decorum, to etiquette, to modesty, and that’s why in public, certain behavior is deemed unacceptable. You can’t go walking down the streets of your city naked (at least, not in most cities in America). You can’t sit in a restaurant and shout out F-bombs without being asked to be quiet or to leave. In many jobs, you can’t show up to work out of uniform. In other jobs, you can’t show up dressed immodestly.

Why? Workplace decorum. Workplace standards. Workplace integrity. These things matter. Is there no place for this online and in the media?

Certainly, I don’t think the solution to this problem is forcing behavioral ethics on everyone. And again, there are far worse problems than too much profanity and too much nudity in the media and online. (How about the way people savage each other online?)

I’m simply saying that less profanity and less nudity is better than more profanity and more nudity. And since everything reproduces after its own nature, I’m concerned to see where we might be headed next. Am I the only one who feels this way?

As for fellow-followers of Jesus, here’s the gold standard for us: “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God” (Eph. 5:1-5, CSB).

Maybe we can’t stop the world around us from being worldly, but we can certainly step higher ourselves. Our calling is not to join in the ever-encroaching darkness. It’s to shine brightly like lights.


Sign Up or Login to post comments.


René Fries posted a comment · Jan 24, 2018
"(...) it seems more and more flesh is being exposed". What makes women "dangerous" is not what they show but what they conceal. A long history of hunters (in fact, more than 99% of the time since mankind exists) has made the male human being, now, precisely, a hunter. Translated into more "modern" vocabulary: an explorer in every sense of the word (discoveries of any kind). For such an explorer, a fully-clad women lifting her gown from the floor up to just above the ankles is at least as exciting than a beach lass getting rid of her g-string. This being said, the more "liberal" societies are, the less children are born. Here in Europe, the "fully clad" Muslim woman has on average 3 times more children than the aforementioned g-string lass. As everyone understands, this perfectly fits into the European politics - Europeans having proved reluctant at Dictature whilst Muslims are used to it.
Royce posted a comment · Jan 20, 2018
No you are not alone. I wholeheartedly agree. Both in what we need and don't need. Though I do believe for the sake of Society as a whole we do need certain standards in place for at least TV. Can anyone really say that relaxing the standards for what can be said and seen on TV has made us a better Society? I've long been dealing with this in my own way. I confront it every time I encounter it. Especially with self-professing Christians and most especially with "high profile" self-professing Christians. I remind them of Matt. 15:18, Mk. 7:21-23, Lk. 6:45, Eph. 4:29, and Col. 3:8. To the Unbelievers I just ask something like, "Do you kiss your Mama with that mouth?" Or "Is that how your Daddy taught you to talk?" Or "Is that how you were raised to behave?" That works for both the most of the time. Some are just beyond caring. But I'm convinced the reason it is much more prevalent today, especially in the public square, is because WE - the Light & Salt - are allowing it. SOME even engaging in it!!
user profile
Kenslajc2017 posted a comment · Jan 20, 2018
Totally agree with you, Dr. Brown. Like reading all your posts. Love your radio show as well! Keep up the awesome work you do
user profile
SteveF posted a comment · Jan 20, 2018
Not only is profanity profane, but it is sin. Let no corrupt communication come from your mouth was not just a suggestion nor just for the first century Christians. The reason this is especially disturbing when a Christian talks like this is that the Holy Spirit is disturbed and we feel it!
user profile
Willow posted a comment · Jan 19, 2018
Yes, we seem to be surrounded by profanity and bad language. Many comedians use it a lot...but generally it adds nothing to the humour. I do understand that they often do their acts in working man's clubs so speak in similar language, but there is simply too much of it...particularly certain words. Yet, I have seen extremely funny comedians who never use bad or vulgar language at all. I don't mind so much words like 'sh*t', because that is just a more 'everyday' word that many use for faeces. I doubt that Trump's comment (assuming it was true) would have caused quite so much of a stir had he said 'faeces-hole' instead of the other. It's quite possible that a fairly large number of people wouldn't have understood him. And sometimes one does have to speak in language that people do understand....a lot of people don't have all that big a vocabulary. And occasionally, certain words CAN be used for emphasis... dependng on what they are and the circumstances. I was quite shocked a few years ago on a Christian site when someone said, on one particular day she called her kindergarten or maybe infant class little 'b*gg*rs'. I said you do know what that means, don't you? Apparently she didn't...can't remember if I delicately explained or advised her to look the word up. Anyhow, I think she was rather alarmed when she found out what it meant! This is part of the problem, I believe, people hear all these words being used freely from babyhood and a lot of the time they really don't know what they mean...and like you say, not wanting to be prudish, but it does make me shudder when I hear so much of it around all the time...especially some words.
user profile
Mike on the Wall posted a comment · Jan 17, 2018
Ephesians 5:3-21 -- Was going to stop at v 4 but seems we need to read all of it