Being highly sensitive means that I experience whatever I do on multiple levels at the same time–sort of like a surround sound experience. Even reading a book–it isn’t just print on a page. I see the print, yes, but I feel the atmosphere of each and every scene. I hear not only the words of conversation, but sense the emotions beneath the words, hear and feel the percussion of music or the smells, tension and bustle of the kitchen. Recently, I lifted the cover of a newly acquired book. Cigarette smoke curled up out of its pages, clung to my hair, wrapped itself around my shoulders and tickled my nose till I sneezed. I’m allergic to cigarette smoke and the smell of stale liquor makes me gag. I don’t like jazz, and I really don’t like sultry jazz. I knew this author classified herself as “Edgy Christian. I hadn’t considered the impact of the content when I agreed to read her novel with a view to writing a review. Hmmm, would I be able to do it?
Then a very lively discussion erupted amongst the writer’s of John 3:16 about profanity in writing–some okay with it, in context, and others of the mind that it is uncalled for and inappropriate, period, end of discussion. I popped off without taking time to think or pray and said, “Profanity is simply the mark of a small vocabulary!”
Well, it is. As I mulled it over I realized that there are times when all of us have a reduced vocabulary–times of severe stress such as one experiences during abuse, or your garden variety character building difficulty. The discussion helped me sort things out to see where I stand.
Reporting of such things in the course of telling one’s story does not offend me. I believe we need to be gentle and tender toward those who have survived such circumstances and extend grace. Any nurse will tell you that infection must be expressed for healing to occur. Trauma must be expressed to heal or our emotions become infected and inflamed.Those who go after the battered ones to minister to them and bring them to Jesus may sometimes look and smell like the very ones Jesus would go looking for Himself! Judging and/or holding judgmental attitudes toward hurting people, or their ministers, who use such vocabulary disturbs me. That business of being slow to speak…
But the gratuitous use of profanity? Now that is offensive. When there is absolutely no stressful situation and still an individual is throwing it out like bird seed, I believe they are polluting their own spirits as well as fouling the environment, leaving a deposit of defilement wherever it lands! Profanity is not to be substitued for punctuation or to be used like capitalization in a sentence. Grammatically speaking, profanity is not an essential part of speech. A cuss word is not necessary to complete a sentence! Even sailors are capable of cleaning up the potty mouth!
I’m not going to be using profanity, but neither am I going to throw stones if someone else does. When it becomes gratuitous profanity, I close the book. Now, if you will pardon me, I need to change into some Holy Spirit garment, take a deep breath and dive back into that smoky bar scene to see what Jesus is up to! Happy reading!