Who decides what the bad words are?
Paul Tripp references an occasion where one of his kids asked this question and he made a couple of distinct categories:
- There are condemning, judgmental, ungodly words that should never be used. For example, asking God to “damn” someone just shouldn’t be done. It’s wrong.
- There are other words that are sexually graphic and these words bring to mind certain sexually explicit things in a derogatory way that is often inappropriate.
- There are still more words that in any given culture are just impolite to say. For example, “shit” is just an impolite word. There is nothing wrong or inappropriate about it other than it is impolite to say.
Then Tripp went on to discuss the biblical standard over and against culture. The Bible doesn’t define wholesome language in a vocabulary way (meaning specific words), rather it is about wholesome language in an “intention” sort of way. What one “intends” with his/her words determines whether or not the communication is wholesome.
“The Bible says, wholesome language is intended to give grace to the hearer and build someone up.”
Tripp goes on to say that he “is willing to sacrifice his right to a vocabulary in order to be part of redemptive good in someone’s life.” It is not just abut words in a vocabulary.
Fascinating. A deep understanding of Christianity and grace leads not to a set of prudish rules about words, rather it leads to a deep application of love and appreciation for another. Think about it, anytime a person willingly sacrifices and lays down a right, communicates a deep sense of respect and honor to another human being. It would seem to this cultural observer that a Christian perspective on the wholesome nature of communication needs to be applied to our highlighted focus on the nature and outbreak of bullying in our culture.