I’m not sure how old I was, maybe 9 or 10 years but I remember exactly where I was and who I was with. I was at the back of the gang of young people and walking with my youth leader up the biggest hill imaginable. The leader asked me how I was doing and then I said a word I had only ever heard the older youth say. (I won’t write it correctly so that anyone reading this cannot write in and complain!), “I am nak-erd”. The leader told me off in such a way that even today I can remember it so well. I had said a word that I hadn’t fully understood which had brought huge offence to him. Strange thing is that 40-50 years later I hear it being said all the time by people with huge Christian respect. Was it obscene? Is it obscene? In my past it seems so. Even when I’ve used it now as a grown-up adult I feel like a naughty child.
Nor should there be obscenity, Ephesians 5 v 4
Did the Apostle have a list of words which were obscene?
The minister was driving home from the village church, he had been under so much pressure to be all that he should be, but his parishioners were driving him mad! Ahead of him coming from the opposite direction there she was. He could see that member, the one that gave him so much grief, in her fancy car, but she seemed to be slowing down, so he did. As they passed each other the woman rolled down her window and shouted at him, “PIG!!” That was it, the minister had taken enough, how dare she! So as she speeded away he shouted from his window, “FAT OLD COW!!” He sped off too so angry with this member and drove round the bend and crashed head-on into the biggest pig he had ever seen.
Some may think that was a coarse joke which the Apostle also warns about and which we will get to in a couple of days.
It seems that the Bible translators have certainly made the newer versions more palatable to be read in Church.
Can you imagine asking someone to read this in a church service?
“But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? Hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?” (Isaiah 36:12 KJV) Maybe we need to be thankful that the translators used the word ‘dung’!
Or what about … “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 23:2 KJV)
I am so pleased that I’ve never had to read such verses! Though I was reminiscing with a friend yesterday how when I was organising his wedding I had chosen a passage from the Song of Songs where the word ‘breasts’ is used and the reader had pleaded that I may change the passage as he didn’t feel comfortable reading the word publicly. I remember preaching my first series from that book to my church and spent most of the week practicing in the mirror saying the word ‘breasts’ over and over again which was quite concerning looking back.
The Apostle says put off obscenity. The word means ‘ugly or filthy’.
Maybe facemasks are not a bad idea?!
In Bible College there was a student who would continually swear during the matches. So after many complaints he came out onto the football pitch wearing a sticking plaster over his mouth!
The filtering of what comes out of our mouth is needed. Jesus said out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Unclean words from our mouth extinguishes the light from the world.
Maybe it is a good thing that the Bible doesn’t supply a list of words and how could it anyway? In any generation and every culture of the world there are words that are culturally acceptable and words that are not. There are words that relate to sexuality or which try to destroy and harm others. They are there, introduced into our language, slang words created by a new generation.
Whatever words are obscene, the Apostle says, don’t use them. Be an example. Be different.