When the erudite editor of The Gospel Preceptor asked me for some thoughts on “Foul Language”, I began to contemplate exactly how I would approach it. I knew that the word “foul” had several meanings. A foul is sometimes when something is out of bounds. There are lines in sports that must not be crossed or one is out bounds and a foul is called. It also means in sports that when a player has accidently struck someone and that is a foul.
I realize by the assignment that the word “foul” is not spelled fowl. These are generally birds such as ducks, geese and crows and more.
Foul language is out of bounds also in many ways. One person was described as having a “potty mouth”. It takes little imagination to understand what is meant by this. Dirty smutty words are always foul-out of bounds if you please.
A recent news item on national television after a hurricane had devastated part of a city on a southern coast, a news person was interviewing one of the citizens and this happened: “It was a miracle that anyone was sparred, OMG” meaning of course Oh my God. This is equal to shaking one’s fist in God’s face but this happens in our society almost every day. Not the same situation but the term “OMG.” Exodus 20:7, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Seemingly this means little in today’s culture. It has become a favorite expression for many and accepted by most.
This, like potty mouth, is out of bounds in the sight of God. I’m sure that fowls communicate with each other in some language that by nature they have been endowed, but not one of them uses such before the Maker of the air that it takes for them to fly.
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).
If we shall be called on to give account for every idle, rash, inconsiderate word, how much more for such blasphemy as the Pharisees had uttered? How careful, too, should we be to see that our speech is pure! Jesus here makes words the basis of the judgment of God. Elsewhere we find it is works such as Rom 2:6; “Who will render to every man according to his deeds” and in 2 Cor. 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” There is no confusion here. The judgment in its finality must be based upon our character. Our faith forms our character, and our words and works are indices by which we may determine what manner of character it is.
The word “idle” means one who is useless and without purpose. This is the kind of talk that the scribes and Pharisees were using. They were teaching others to not accept the teaching of Christ. First Timothy 5:13 will help us in this. Paul said, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” This is not talking about joking or teasing a bit. This has to do with language that is damaging to the soul. Now, would you want to use gutter potty language before God on judgement day?
I had always thought, until the last several years, that such language was due to a lack of education and how to express one’s thoughts without a dirty mouth. Observe now that the most educated use such language as a matter of rote it seems. Children hear it at home from dad and mom and take it to school and it only broadens from there.
Please consider the following passages of Scripture: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (Jas. 1:26).
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (Jas. 3:8-12).
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:3-6).
Notice these terms: Neither filthiness, all kinds of indecency, foolish talking jesting, words of doubtful morality, words and suggestions of doubtful and double meaning—smutty potty mouth. These are not convenient. Are not becoming. It is more becoming to Christians to engage in thanksgiving.
Birds of the heavens have more sense-judgement than a human being that will use such filth in communicating. Such language should not be part of our vocabulary whatsoever.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:10-18).
The writer realizes the context in which Paul wrote. Nonetheless it takes little imagination for our country in this type of situation in the 21st century. People are not seeking as a whole. Thus, there is no way for them to understand. Mouths are running over with vulgarity. Many are bitter and seeming think nothing of cursing. We walked into a business a few days ago and a man was telling vulgar jokes. He looked at men and said, “I’m sorry preacher” to which I responded by saying, “if you can say that before God who am I.”
Yes, the fowls have more sense than many people—young or old.