I just finished a library book recently that was classified as “young adult” fiction. The main characters were teenagers, and the plot revolved around a murder and the efforts of these young people to find out who killed their friend. It was engaging and well written except for one glaring problem — some of the words were, in my mind, unacceptable. Why would such crude speech be used in a book aimed at young people? In fact, why is it okay to use such words at all? What message is being sent? The Bible tells us:
“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Ephesians 4:7
I’m not a prude and I’m not unrealistic. I know sometimes certain words fly out in anger, in pain, and so on. That doesn’t make it right, but it happens. However, I object to the normalization of this kind of language. Our speech matters. The words we use affect others and should be chosen judiciously. When we speak, we’re setting an example. If the books we read, the movies and television shows we watch, and the people we respect use bad language, soon everyone will.
In the same way, when we avoid cursing and bad words, people notice. My husband and I have both seen the language of a workplace be transformed by one person refusing to join in to such talk. Soon others become ashamed, and even apologize for those words. So be a good example — watch your words! As Paul says in his letter to his spiritual son, Timothy:
” Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12