Bad Words Won’t Make
Your Ears Bleed
by Phil Boatwright

I wanted to do a follow up on my Furious 7 review. The film made big bucks and I suspect many of you saw it…and therefore, heard it. God’s name is profaned four times in the movie, mostly by a lead character. Because profanity (God’s name followed by a curse or the abusive use of Christ’s name) and obscenity (a swear word, indecent language) are so infused in movie dialogue, I thought I’d explain my hang-up with it.

First, hearing these offensives won’t cause you to go insane. But if you haven’t learned by now, you soon will; when we become accustomed to something that affects our culture, it’s usually just a matter of time before we start participating in that act or deed…or speech. And as you well know, words that were once considered offensive are now pretty much a part of how your fellow classmates complete a simple declarative sentence. Maybe, you too.

So what’s the big deal? They’re just words, right?

There is more to being a good person than being well-spoken. But our public behavior and speech should indicate to others what we stand for. And our words should define our character. Else, how are others to know? Like my screen hero John Wayne (before your time) said in one of his films, “Words are what men live by. Words they say and mean.” Words not only reveal inner character, they also reflect our spiritual values. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

Motion pictures shouldn’t just show us what we are, but what we can become. That’s the ultimate purpose of an art form. Yet somehow the people now writing movies (generally) can’t express frustration without the f-bomb or anger without profaning God’s name. And the s-word has become the new “darn it.”

There are some actors who’ll put on 40 lbs. or lose 50 for a role, yet their language remains the same, no matter the role. Think about it: no matter what kind of character, if he’s white collar (banker), blue collar (mechanic) or no collar (farmer), in the movies, they all talk alike. Men, women, even kids (Super 8) or even robots (one of the Transformer movies), everybody in movies uses these words. That wasn’t always the case in movies. But it is now. Think that’s having an effect on the way people in real life talk?

In Exodus 20:4 it is proclaimed, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” It comes before those that pertain to coveting, adultery, or even murder. It must be important to Him. Yet, God’s name is often followed by a curse in movies. If you include the misuse of Jesus’ name in that instruction, then the number of films that defy God’s directive jumps to a majority.

That third commandment clearly communicates a need for us to reverence God’s name. Yet, on the silver screen, nearly every actor of this era has misused His name or that of our Savior. Ever hear movie characters utter in consternation, “Oh for Buddha’s sake”? So why is the name of our Savior nothing more to moviemakers than a meaningless expletive?

Understand, I’m not trying to be pious here. And I’ll let you in on something: I’ve used some of the very words in my life that annoy me in movies. But as I grow in my relationship to Christ, I want to become more like Him. I don’t want to be known for my faults. And I don’t want to be disobedient to our He