“Potty Mouth” – Big Deal or Not? – MBFLP 267

“What should I do about my kids’ ‘potty mouth’?” asked a young father in our church. Learning appropriate behavior and speech patterns is part of socialization, but is there a bigger issue than being “socially acceptable”?

Society has become more tolerant of bad language

Society itself isn’t a reliable guide. In the 1970s the comedian George Carlin had a risque nightclub routine, “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” which indulged in “transgressive” self-expression.

In 2017, psychologist Jean Twenge and colleagues did a study of books published in the U.S. between 1950 and 2008, using George Carlin’s list of socially unacceptable words – and they found that “Readers of books in the late 2000s were 28 times more likely than those in the early 1950s to come across one of the ‘seven words …’” (link below)

And that is just in a limited channel of the print medium. Carlin’s routine wouldn’t mean as much today, as cable television and pay-per-view has normalized much of what would have been blocked from the broadcast media back then.

What does the Scripture say? 

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

– Ephesians 4:29 – “corrupt” in the Greek means rotten, putrid, bad, unfit for use

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Ephesians 5:3-4

Do not be deceived; “Evil company corrupts good habits.

– 1 Corinthians 15:33

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth … 

Colossians 3:8

The question of “bad words” isn’t about a checklist but about an attitude

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Jesus, in Matthew 12:34-37

Article We Referenced:

J. M. Twenge, Hannah Van Landingham, and W. Keith Campbell. “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television: Increases in the Use of Swear Words in American Books, 1950-2008.” SAGE Open, July-September 2017, pp. 1-8