Call me a throwback. The world may have moved on but I will always consider coarse language a sign of a poor vocabulary. I’m personally fond of a phrase my late grandmother enjoyed using to admonish potty mouth people. “Goodness gracious,” she would exclaim. “You’ve got something in your mouth I wouldn’t hold in my hand!”
I’m noticing more and more use of the delay button on television— and we rarely watch much of anything around here other than news, sports, and cooking shows. No programming seems exempt from gutter talk. Even on a news report some well-meaning anchor will run a clip of someone with every other word “bleeped” out and the ones that remain aren’t necessarily easy on the ears. While we’re on the subject, they could get a little quicker with their bleeping, too. One generally gets enough of the first syllable to know what word is being bleeped. Sure, I find the bleeping less bothersome than having someone cuss up a blue streak in my face and then say “Excuse my language,” but if I had a choice it would be none of the above. I’ve often thought it’d be neat if those cell phones on all of our hips could send out harmless but effective “mind your mouth” zaps on every four letter word. There could even be an app for that. (Then again, there’s the risk that some people might light up like an electric mosquito zapper on a hot Louisiana night, so maybe not.)
The other day I saw a news piece that must have been trying the soul of whoever was trying to keep up with the potty mouth protestor ranting on the steps of Congress. The poor bleeper could scarcely finish one beep before it was time to start another. What that operator needed was a longer delay button. Heads up: Here’s an admission that may surprise you, but for the record, so do I! Oh, not for coarse language. I have my weaknesses, but that’s not one of ‘em. However, I’m constantly reminded of my need for an extra long delay button where social media is concerned.
Opinions, everyone has ‘em, and granted, the very nature of social media just begs us to share, but composing on the fly and hitting send too quickly can damage an author’s goals and platform in a nano second. But far more importantly for the author who professes to write under the compulsion of God, allowing ourselves the luxury of starting or joining a particular thread can strain or permanently damage relationships between ourselves and those readers in our communities who need Christ the most. It’s not overly dramatic to remind ourselves that someone spending eternity with God or separated from Him could hang in the balance of our updates.
I won’t presume to tell anyone when to weigh in on political, societal, and religious debates, in large part because those lines will be different based on our various ministries. I will suggest that Ephesians 4:29 should always set the bar, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Only the Holy Spirit can tell us when to speak and when to refrain. I making it a practice to ask God for a Divine Delay, not to bleep out what I shouldn’t say, but a heavenly prompt to remind me to seek His counsel before I post. Won’t you join me? While we’re asking Him to “Set a watch over our lips and a guard over our hearts that we might not sin against thee,” we might want to add “And guard our Twitter and Facebook fingers, too!”