In 2007, our sons were in 8th, 5th, and 1st grades and they all attended public school in the Texas hill country. One day as we were riding in the car together, our oldest used the word “freakin” in his story to describe something. We were caught off guard as we were not used to hearing these kind of words come out of our son’s mouth. I asked him why he used that word and he told us, “Everybody in school says that word all the time.” It was no big deal to him. He went on to explain that all kids, in church and at school, used words like that. I listened well, held my composure, and waited until we got home to teach our boys a valuable lesson about the power of words.
When we got home I pulled my oldest two boys back in to our home office where there was a dry erase board handy. I got a dry erase marker out and asked them to help me name all of the curse words that they had ever heard or known. So, we made a list of all of the common profanities known to kids in our American culture. At this point, I took time to teach them that there were also words that were similar, but the spelling was changed to make them more acceptable to the religious culture, or even the “Christian culture.” I called them “Christian curse words.”
In a separate column on the dry erase board and we listed out all of the words that were similar to curse words such as “dad-gummit.” I showed the boys how you take the first two letters of each word and switch them back to their normal spot and come up with a phrase that uses God’s name in vain. We listed out words like “freakin,” “friggin,” and other words that Christians come up with to substitute for the real profanities.
I went on to teach the boys that the words really meant the same thing because it stemmed from an attitude of the heart. Jesus said all evil flows from the heart and although one may sugar coat the words, the intention of the heart is still the same. The word heart is translated from the Greek word “Kardia” which means “core.” It is the center focal point of one’s spiritual and physical being. So when Jesus spoke about all evil flowing from the heart, He was referring to the intention of what we communicate from the very core of our being. Whether a Christian uses the word “freakin”, or a non-Christian says it like it is, the meaning is the same.
Now, here’s where the real lesson began: we had a little more than twenty words listed on the dry erase board. If you look up how many words there are in the English language, you will find answers that vary from 170,000 words to 470,000 words. I asked the boys if they knew how many words were in the dictionary. Of course they didn’t know, so we looked up the answer and found that there are a couple of hundred thousand or more. Then, I asked them how hard they thought it might be live out their lives eradicating these words from their vocabularies.
This made sense to them for two reasons: one, they could see the value of a couple of hundred thousand other words to use in their vocabulary versus the words we had on the board that did not accomplish anything favorable. Second, I reminded them they were McDaniels and they were called by God to be set apart. I reminded them the crowd is average and the crowd will always use senseless words to communicate; however, we were not called to be average. I taught them to be set apart meant that you had to be different in speech and manners. I taught them people would take notice of their excellence in speech and it would open doors of opportunity for them in crucial situations. I also told them about my former life before I repented and gave my life to Jesus. I told God that He was going to have to take away my filthy mouth so that I could talk with a clean mouth… and God answered my cry immediately. I quit using profanity in the summer of 1998 at the age of 33 years old and have not substituted other words to replace my vulgarities.
I look back at who I was from the age of 19 to 33 years old and today am embarrassed of what came out of my mouth on a consistent basis. When I hear people use profanities like I used to, I can’t help but remember how immature and disgusting I must have sounded to people of excellence. The fact is, people who use vulgarities do not have a standard of excellence; therefore, they are not excellent. God tells us in the Word that His servant David was not only skillful at play, but that he was prudent in speech. One reason David became a king at such a young age is because he was valiant, he was a man of war, he was skillful at play, and he was also excellent in his speech.
I don’t believe God wants us to learn how to become excellent in speech at the age of 33. I believe He wants us, like David, to learn how to speak well from an early age and become a person who is set apart. It is too easy to be just like everybody else. One might think that profanity and fake curse words are normal or acceptable; however, this should not be the case. It reveals a glaring lack of wisdom and a lack of concern for those around you.
It is unprofitable to use profanities and pseudo profanities. Our children have learned this valuable lesson and it has served them well. We have had to teach and re-teach on this subject because young people have to be reminded of what they have been taught, and they have to be reminded of the “why” behind the teaching. If a young person understands, through critical thinking, the “why” behind a principle that he or she has been taught, they have the power to make wiser choices. They do not quit doing things just because we tell them not to. We can’t just tell them to make better choices and not explain any why we are trying to get them to make the better choice. They have to be taught how to think differently. The day that my sons and I put those twenty plus words up on the dry erase board, something shifted in their minds. They understood the power of utilizing 200,000 other words instead of those non-productive words that speak death and not life.
God said that death and life is in the power of the tongue and those that love it will eat the fruit thereof. This means that we will eat the fruit of life or the fruit of death depending upon the words that we speak. When is the last time that you picked up a rotten tomato and ate it? We both know that answer. We must think differently about the words we speak. We must teach our children and our students how to think differently about the words they speak. It truly makes a difference. It has made an incredible difference in the last 19 years of my life and the lives of our family. You, as well, can experience this life changing environment in your home and in your work place.
You may be like me who was in desperate need of God’s help. If so, you can call on Him to help you and He will. Jesus tells us that the only way to get to God is through Him, so the name of Jesus is like a key. In the name of Jesus, you can ask God to take away any vulgar language, addictions, and habits that you have had that relate to profanity, and God will answer your cry. Some people can simply accomplish this through the process of self-discipline, so if that’s the case with you, then so be it. If not, I encourage you to call on God for help in this matter. And my hope is that you and I will both will continue to teach the next generation how unproductive and meaningless filthy language is in such a way that they can comprehend and apply it to their lives.