Monday, November 11, 2013

language problem

The latest scandal with the Miami Dolphins locker situation is symptomatic of a culture that has a language problem. Interestingly enough, Jesus said, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. I believe the problem that we see from some of the texts that have been released from Martin and Incognito simply reveal something about the words in our culture. Once again, the Bible, the word of God guides us by telling us to watch our words...if only we followed God's way with our language. Below I've outlined this culture's problem with words. 1. Our words are too crude. Howard Stern has been glamorized in our culture as a "shock jock" for talking about anything and everything. Very sexually dirty. Very vulgar. Filled with expletives. And he's not the only one...he's just the poster child. It is shocking to hear the curse words, the sexually explicit comments and filth communicated in our media, our schools, our workplaces, etc... This is true especially of a younger generation that has been weaned on crude talk and curse words. They don't even understand that dropping the "f" word as an adjective in a public place is inappropriate. The Bible encourages us to us words that are loving, and encouraging, and to remove filthy talk from our mouths. Our world would be better if we did. 2. Our words are too cruel. The onset of trash talking, bragging, and self promotion has lent itself to tearing other people down. Calling people fat or ugly - talking about their family heritage - or just being cruel about the way they look, or how poorly they perform on the field or in the office...We have become a nasty culture that easily uses harsh words to put others down. It is epidemic. We have become mean with our words, knowing fully how powerful they are. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me" is what our parents taught us about those who say mean things. The problem is that the saying isn't true. Words can be way more hurtful than sticks and stones. 3. Our words are too quick. Too many people say too many things too quickly. Part of this is our 24 hour news reality that is compelled to create grand headlines about half information and assumptions. Most of what we hear on the news is not as big as they make it with their graphics and music backgrounds. This is not to mention the ease with which anyone (and I mean anyone) can speak their mind via a tweet, post, or even a blog like this one. I'm reminded that James, the brother of Jesus wrote, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak... Our culture should try this one. 4. Our words are overly scrutinized. Everyone, who has ever opened their mouth to communicate has misspoken. It is human to say things we don't mean, and even have words come out that are not part of our vocabulary. Yet even thought we know this, we tend to jump on every verbal mistake made. As a preacher of 28 years, I've said a lot of things I didn't mean to say - mostly they become jokes about my inability to communicate. But I have said things that in no way reflected my heart and passions...they were just misspoken words. Again, our social and paid media plays a hypocritical role of judging others by soundbites and gaffs when we have ALL made them. We should first try to contextualize it all before being overly critical of someone's words - we may need that same grace some day.

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