I think the Smiths covered a song by Cilla Black about work being a four letter word:
Loving you is driving me crazy
People say that you were born lazy
‘Cause you say that
Work Is A Four-Letter Word
My Dad used to forbid the use of the “w” word around the house. It really did offend him when he came home, laid out on the couch and had anyone talk about work. The language that each person finds offensive can be loaded by our personal experience. Kelli, my wife, finds the word “Spaz” offensive. It’s short for ‘spastic’ and Jack, my father-in-law, is a spastic. We should watch what we say, but do we legislate or relate?
Let me explain. In England you can use the English word for a female dog whilst referring to your mother. Your mother would probably not wash your mouth out with soap, but would laugh – if it wasn’t meant as an insult. In England, you wouldn’t go into a polite house, chase a pea around your plate at the end of dinner and say, “Come here you little bugger!” and be expected to be invited back.
It seems that the politically correct crowd make a list of taboo words to refer to things (for example, no-one is fat anymore: the Fat Controller in Thomas the Tank is now just Sir Topham Hat). However, the list keeps changing. For evidence of that look at our African American friends and Native Americans. The Moral Majority have another list of words that can never be used because they are disgusting or sound harsh. Yet, I hear many of the people who wouldn’t use a certain word substitute it with “Shoot!” (similar sound) or “Poop!” (Same meaning) – and by using those two words it’s an easy guess which word I am not saying.
The Fat Controller
The phonetics can’t be too important. Every time you talk of fun, you are cussing in Japanese. Those who spend all their time trying to work out what words they can get away with, or how they can get the French teacher to swear by asking her to say seal in French or asking what peter means are asking the wrong questions.
I think that the real question is why you chose to use a certain word and whether the motive was pure. Pure motives do lead to purer language. Happily, the fear of using the wrong word or the desire to offend with aceptable vocabulary diminish. Blacks are not as concerned with the words they have been called as much as they are concerned with the neglect and hatred that have been maintained regardless of the words. The words are said in a way that betrays the heart. The words are updated, but the heart is left unchallenged.
How do we change a heart that wants to cuss, swear, and degrade into one that wants to edify, praise and worship? How can we use Jesus and God in a way that shows those terms respect and develops honour in the community?
Only be worried about what comes out of a person’s mouth in so far as it shows their heart. Do not be quick to judge why they used certain vocabulary – understand the motive and deal with that. Especially if the one using clean words with nasty motives is yourself.