St. Paul, Bad Words, and Greed May 3, 2012
In a recent post, the one on the fire pits [which turned into a website and a Facebook page, I’m told] I used an eight letter b-word which pushed the Kennel Kode to the limit. I thought it justified in view of the outrageous acts of the City Council. Then I read in Ephesians 4:29-5:5,
Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. . . . Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. . . . Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for holy persons. Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving. Because you know for sure that persons who are sexually immoral, impure, or greedy – which happens when things become gods – those persons won’t inherit the kingdom of Christ and God. [Common English Bible]
Oops. I had been thinking in terms of C. S. Lewis’s distinction in Mere Christianity between ‘morality,’ the actions and virtues that are right or wrong, and ‘propriety,’ the things that can be shown or discussed in a given society. Most young hip Christians – and I’m not young, and not all that hip, but I use them as an excuse – rely on this distinction. I was not using that word to attack a person, but to criticize an idea. And, I will mention the famous Christian musician who described something as “f____ brilliant;” he was not demeaning anything, but praising it.
On the other hand, it’s interesting that St. Paul puts greed up there with sexual immorality as things that “shouldn’t even be mentioned.” I’m trying to imagine what expressions of greed would look like. I’m trying to imagine Ted Baehr and his acolytes sitting through a movie with their clickers, counting expressions of greed along with four letter words. Maybe we should see on films, “Rated PG for scenes of smoking and mild expressions of greed.” The Disney animated classics, if this standard were applied, would earn a PG rating. On the other hand, maybe that’s the way to get high school age kids to be willing to see them!