Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 20, 1967

"Watch Your Language" From Another Angle

Sewell Hall

The ancient Jews so revered the name of Jehovah that they would not even pronounce it. Perhaps this was a bit extreme, but not once did Jesus rebuke them for their caution.

What Jesus did point out to them was that when they came as near as possible to using the name of Jehovah, it was the same as using it. (Matthew 5:33-36)

Profanity is an attitude of heart - treating lightly things that are holy and sacred. Using euphemisms derived from the names of Divinity may not constitute profanity as long as we are ignorant of their derivation. But once we are made aware of their connections to continue to use them freely and even deliberately is hardly becoming to one whose goal in life is to magnify the name of the Lord.

And it is right that the derivation of these words be revealed. Many people, even among "society in general" are aware of their connections and with such individuals a Christian cheapens himself by the use of them. Teaching our children to avoid words because of their connection with Divinity is a way of impressing upon them the sacredness and reverence due to the Godhead. The child who has been taught to control his speech in moments of anger, refraining even from these "euphemisms," will surely find it easier to avoid the outright use of the sacred names.

It is difficult to imagine the use of such speech among the apostles and martyrs, much less in the mouth of the Lord or of those heavenly beings who "praise God continually night and day." These are far better examples for ourselves and for our children than Tom Sawyer or Dennis the Menace.

It will be said that we are taking ourselves too seriously. Sometimes we find ourselves wondering if this may not be true. But then there come back to mind those many scriptures calling for gravity and sobriety in bishops (I Tim. 3:2), deacons (I Tim. 3:. 8), in their wives (I Tim. 3:11), in older men (Titus 2:4), and in fact in all (Romans 12:3; Titus 2:12). Then we are led to wonder if the greater danger is not in the other direction.

This is not to suggest self-righteousness. All of us have been careless in our speech at times and we can be tolerant and patient with others who are as weak or as ignorant as we have been. But this does not justify us in lowering our own standards. Nor does it forbid our encouraging others to press on, along with ourselves, to perfection. It would appear to this writer that the energies and talents of an outstandingly able gospel preacher and columns of an influential paper could be better used than in ridicule of those who are thus exercising themselves.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8) "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."