We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

Profanity & The Profane

When was the last time you used profanity? Do you think you have that area of your life under control? Well, I have some bad news for you. You may be guilty without even knowing it. Before we can understand whether or not this is true, let’s first explore the historical background of the word. The root word, profane, is Latin for “outside the temple.” All that was unclean or impure was considered profane, or “outside the temple.”

It’s sad, but today, through the media, we have brought the profane into our homes. Profanity also comes in religious packages, making it easy for Christians to speak like the rest of the world. According to Gene Edward Veith, “profanity uses religious language in a way that desecrates or trivializes its sacred meaning.”

Though this may be surprising to many, profane language includes some of the most widely used phrases in our Christian cultures, such as “Oh my God!; Oh my Goodness; For Goodness Sake; Good Heavens, Oh Heavens, Oh my Word etc;” Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines profane as “Irreverence of sacred things; particularly, the use of language which implies irreverence towards God; or one who by words or actions, treats sacred things with irreverence.” The most powerful statement against profane language is found in Exodus 20:7, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

In Shakespeare’s day the word “God” was not used in the scripts of drama plays for fear that it might be used in vain. Today you cannot watch a G-rated movie or read a book without hearing or reading the expression “My God.” God requires his name to be held holy, which means to be separate from casual, common, or vain use. May we reign in the words of our mouth and pray along with David in Psalm 141 “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; guard the door of my lips.”

Published in: on August 17, 2011 at 12:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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