Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Are What We Say

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good” (Ephesians 4:29).

When I was first married, my husband and I were visiting his mother for the weekend. While we were there, her home teachers came over and taught a lesson on profanity. The older home teacher shared some scriptures and admonished us to use good language. He closed the lesson with a prayer and then we walked him and his companion to the front door. As he walked through the front yard, we could easily hear the cuss words that left his mouth before he made it to his car. This same older gentleman noticed my husband one Sunday at church when we were visiting a different time. He used a few choice words, in a loving way of course, to recognize my husband. This exchange happened while we were in the chapel. I quickly moved just in case a bolt of lightning hit. Apparently, he was still working on the whole idea of not using profanity.

I grew up with my grandparents and profane words were commonplace. I believe it was part of their generation and, honestly, I don’t think either one of them even noticed the profane words in their speech. As a kid, I didn’t notice it much. It was so common to hear cussing in my home that I became desensitized to it.

My husband’s family never used profanity so we adopted that rule in our home. It was always interesting to go back to visit my grandparents because my sensitivities had changed and suddenly I noticed all of the profanity they used, as did my children. Every time one of my grandparents would say a “bad” word, my kids would turn to me in utter shock. We eventually learned to deal with the differences in vocabulary without offending my grandparents.

I always find it so disappointing when I attend a movie and the language is coarse, or worse. I’ve actually walked out of movies with bad language. Thankfully, we own a device called the TV-Guardian that allows us to remove foul language from television shows and DVDs.

When I am at the high school, or even in town shopping, I hear obscenities. Sometimes, I’ve turned to the group of kids using that language and asked them to please not say such words in front of my children. Surprisingly, some of them actually respect my request. For the others that ignore me, I always wish I could pull out my TV-G and zap them with it.

As a writer, I find the words of our language mesmerizing. We have been blessed with so many descriptive and beautiful words. When we use profanity, we shortchange our listeners, and ourselves, because we aren’t using the specific language that would best communicate what we’re sharing.

I love the sounds of words. I love to play with words. I love to learn new words and then use them. My kids constantly challenge the words I use and tell me I’ve made them up. Just a few days ago, my son looked up volatile because he didn’t believe it was a real word.

Latter-day prophets have counseled us to avoid profanity and obscenity in our speech. Our word choices communicate to others what is important to us. The more we can avoid profanity, the better because, “How you speak says much about who you are. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind” (For the Strength of Youth, p. 22).

My father-in-law used to say, “Whatever you’re full of, runs out your mouth.”

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La Mujer Loca said...

So true. I'm so glad to be living in an area that is "relatively" LDS and so we don't have our ears burning as much.

Love the Alan Jackson song. What a voice! Beautiful song.

Kara said...

I grew up with profanity in our home and was desensitized to it as well. However I never liked it and didn't pick it up myself. After going to college at BYU-Hawaii my ears stung every time I went home for a visit. We use only clean language in our home and our children also try and catch us on words they don't think are real. Funny!