St. Paul doesn’t deal in niceties. He doesn’t flatter. Instead, he gets right into our personal space, pokes a finger into our chest, and challenges us to be better. Such was the case in this morning’s epistle for Mass. Paul, speaking to his flock in Ephesus, had this to say: “Immorality or impurity . . . must not even be mentioned among you . . . no silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place (Eph 4).” To put that in today’s parlance, Paul means that we should never use foul or explicit language, no dirty jokes, no locker room talk, and no innuendo. We must not even casually mention these things. Such talk has no place on the lips of a Christian.
Maybe for you, this is not a problem. That’s great. But for a lot of folk, young and old alike, this is a big problem. Our culture tends to glorify the crude, potty-mouthed language so often spoken by film stars and recording artists. Many athletes and coaches don’t give a second thought to using curse words and sexual slang. And walking through a high school hallway can be an unwanted lesson in the language of the gutter.
Come on guys – and ladies – as Christians we cannot abide by these cultural norms. Hopefully we are not dropping these word bombs at Sunday dinner with grandma. But if we restrain ourselves there, why use foul language at Dairy Queen or in the car with the fellas? If it’s a matter of trying to fit in or be cool, please, try again. Telling dirty jokes certainly doesn’t make you a man, guys, in fact, it makes you less of one. And ladies, foul language is simply unbecoming of a daughter of God. You were created to glorify God in action and word. Be serious about doing so.
We cannot control the language of others, but we can – and must – be a Christian witness in our culture. Cleaning up our potty mouths is a good place to start. Having a friend join in the effort is even better. It was once quite popular to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Maybe this week we can also wonder, “What would Jesus say?”
Be assured of my prayers,