July 15, 2018

In this issue: Signs, Providence and Chance by Edward Bragwell

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Ethics2 Graphic

by Dennis Abernathy

Robert Fitch, Philosopher of Ethics, is quoted by Ravi Zacharias in The Harvard Veritas Forum as follows:

“Ours is an age where ethics has become obsolete. It is superseded by science, deleted by psychology, dismissed as emotive by philosophy. It is drowned in compassion, evaporates into aesthetics, and retreats before relativism.

The usual moral distinctions between good and bad are simply drowned in a model and emotion in which we feel more sympathy for the murderer than for the murdered, for the adulterer than for the betrayed, and in which we have begun to believe that the real guilty party, the one who somehow caused it all, is the victim and not the perpetrator of the crime.”

Vulgarity is becoming the norm in society among young and old, male and female. Cussing is becoming very much mainstream! Expletives, once banned in public discourse, are now increasingly turning up in literature, television, the news media and political speech. A recent study by Parents Research Council found the use of profanity during the so-called “family hour” (8:00 to 9:00 Eastern Time) is up fifty-eight percent from two years ago. And the nature of the language (e.g., sexual explicitness) is getting qualitatively worse. William Barclay wrote: “There can never have been a time in history when so much filthy language is used as it is today. And the tragedy is that today there are many people who have become so habituated to unclean talk that they are unaware that they are using it.” These comments were written nearly fifty years ago. If such was the case then, what is it now?

I don’t know about you, but I still believe profanity is profane and that certain words should not be used in everyday, public discourse. I still believe that higher standards of communication correlate with higher standards of behavior. But we are being told that such profanity and vulgarity does not signal a decline in manners or morals, but, that it’s all about “individualism” and “self-expression.” We are told that we should be happy, because the violation of norms gives people greater permission to express what they feel and how they feel it. Now, I’m all for expressing yourself, but if you want to express yourself, relying on vulgarity, obscenity and profanity is not a good way to do it! If the way I express how I feel and why I feel it is vulgar, obscene, and profane, then my moral standard has declined!

I ask: “What is all of this individualism and self-expression doing for us?” I quote the following from Anthony Esolen: “What difficult virtues do we wonderfully self-expressive people practice as a whole? Not thrift and prudence; we are in debt to the eyeballs of our children’s children. Not honesty; cheating on papers and exams is a fact of life in our colleges, and wasn’t there a great collapse in the economy several years ago, occasioned by shady high-finance trading? Not courage, we of the “safe spaces” and the moral truths that must never be uttered. Not justice; identity politics fairly rules her out, because that goddess is supposed to be blind. Not neighborliness; who? Not piety, we rather boast about how bad our forebears were, because that is the only way we can look good by comparison. Not wisdom, we of the sophomoric reliance upon “studies” and the nothingness of moral relativism. Why, then, should anybody be surprised if our language is ugly?”

When You Rely Upon Filth, Filth Is What People Remember.

So again, to say that the spread of obscenity and profanity does not betoken a decay of morals makes absolutely no sense at all. It cannot be disputed that our communication is getting more profane and vulgar. But not only that, it has become much more explicit sexually. For example, it’s not enough to report that a woman alleges that a famous man assaulted her, we must hear the minute details of what they did and how they did it! Sexuality has moved out of the bedroom onto the television screen for all to see, and some of the commercials are downright raunchy! These are a part of our daily news intake and have become the norm.

We read in Ephesians 4: 29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” While “vulgar” speech is coarse, gross, pretentious, lewd, profane, indecent, and obscene, the Bible says one’s speech should be wholesome and encouraging, and thus, beneficial to those who hear. People need to clean up their mouths. Ephesians 5: 3-4, says: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk, nor crude joking, which are out of place…” Today sexual immorality, obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes, (jesting) about sexual matters is common place, but the Bible says “such has no place among God’s people”. Colossians 3:8, says: “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication (abusive speech) out of your mouth.” In the Greek, abusive speech means: “speech in poor taste: evil and filthy talking; vulgar jokes, suggestive, indecent and lewd language; shameful speaking; and foul-mouthed abuse.” In addition, it could be defined as obscene language, abusive words, and coarse speech. I think all will admit that our society is awash with such as is forbidden in these passages.

Jesus said: “For out of the heart the mouth speaks…” (Matt. 12:34). We must be keenly aware of what goes on in our hearts because the state of our heart can be seen through the words which we speak. Proverbs 23:7, says: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Chapter 4:23, says: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proper thoughts are necessary for proper speech! We should ask ourselves the question: “If our mouth is in the toilet, where, then, must our heart be? Translated: “We must keep our mind out of the gutter!”

Michael Brown said: “There is something positive to decorum, to etiquette, to modesty, to pure speech and that’s why in public, certain behavior is deemed unacceptable.” Alexander Pope said: “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien. As to be hated is but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, we first endure, then pity, then embrace.” How badly we need to “Fix our thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and to think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable; things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Phil. 4: 8). Oh, that people would clean up their dirty talk.

The End. ~

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