To keep this blog post from running into book length, I'm going to save portrayals of immoral actions. That's another post for another time. Today, I'm simply going to be focusing on speech itself.
As my brother loves to remind me--if God had made the Bible in movie form, it would be R-rated. Numerous of the prophecies and even of the epistles have strong, and sometimes embarrassing language. So, as not to get ahead of ourselves, lets look at Biblical standards for our own conversation, followed by biblical application of those standards in the book realm.
How God's Standards Apply
1. God's Standards are Not Dependent on the Changing Culture.
This may seem obvious, but it ties into a very important point. God's Word endures forever (1 Peter 1:25). His standards are perfect, and never change. Oftentimes we consider God's standards with the view of a changing culture, and apply what's acceptable in our society to our interpretation of His Word. This cuts both ways into the conservative and liberal camps.
2. God Doesn't Have Double Standards.
Rest assured, if God calls us to be set-apart and pure, then He has to be pure himself. He is not double-minded and capricious, calling us to standards that He himself does not fulfill. He is all-pure and all-holy.
3. God's Standards are Timeless.
Here's where the rub comes in. If God's standards are not dependent on the culture, and have to remain forever, then they have to be perfect for all time. If he doesn't have double standards, then His Word has to be pure forever. That means his Scripture has to be so obviously holy that it never comes into disrepute, even with the changing standards of our changing times.
4. It's According to His Standards of Purity.
Again, lest I fall into applying standards of purity that God never set forth in Scripture, let's look a little further into what they really are.
God's Standards for Conversation
In this section, I'll simply use the Bible:
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.-Colossians 3:8
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.- Ephesians 4:29
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.-James 3:10
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.-Ephesians 5:4
-the word for "Filthiness" is aischrotés, which means "obscenity, indecency, and baseness."
Greek note: the word for "profane" (or "worldy", in NIV translations) is bebélos, which means "profane, secular, unspiritual, godless, worldly".
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.-Proverbs 21:23
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.-Luke 6:45
Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. -Colossians 4:6
So how do we make our characters sin (in the case of writing) or to what extent should we be willing to read about sin? When do we draw the line? Again, due to space constraints here, I am simply going to limit this to conversation; I'll have to address other sins in more detail on a separate blog series.
1. There is a Fine Balance Between Truth and Discretion.
Truth is truth, and we all know it. But fewer and fewer people know the time to speak the truth, and the time to use discretion. In our culture, or at least in America, truth trumps everything, often beyond the bounds of reason and propriety. Because if it's truth, well then, people need to hear it, don't they?
By truth here, I'm not referring to the truth of the gospel or the truth of the Christian life. I'm referring to the truth of sin. Just because someone blasphemed God at your table doesn't mean you have to quote the exact words in your article. Those of us who need to know are smart enough to fill in the blank.
Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. -Proverbs 2:9-15
2.How God portrays Sin
God was very open in Scripture about the wickedness of people, sometimes embarrassingly so. But in the matter of blasphemy, He did not (to my knowledge) quote people misusing His name, or using curse words towards anyone else. Oh, yes, He himself cursed people. He sometimes quoted others cursing people. He quoted people who lifted their fist against Him in pride. He portrayed blasphemous attitudes. But he never quoted misused words as we misuse them today.
This is generally how He portrayed profanity:
As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!” -2 Samuel 16:5-8
And again in the New Testament:
And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Please do correct me if I'm wrong on this point; for I don't pretend to have an exhaustive knowledge of Scripture.
That's all for today, friends and fellow bibliophiles. Much more next time, and I look forward to your inputs as well! :)