Free Church Minister warns of impact of swearing

A former Free Church of Scotland Moderator has urged professing Christians and adherents to take greater care with their language.

Rev James MacIver, minister of Knock Free Church on the Isle of Lewis, said that although swearing and blasphemy had always existed in society, it was being communicated far more unashamedly through social media.

He explained that our speech and written words convey what is in our mind, thoughts, emotions and attitude – and this can have “devastating effects for good or bad”.

Mr MacIver said: “In everyday conversation, books, films, songs, and videos, the regular use of blasphemous, coarse, vulgar language, is commonplace, leaving many children with the idea that such words are normal and acceptable.

“This is not surprising in a society that has moved so much from the precepts of the Bible as a foundation for moral conduct and for the ‘norms’ of conversation.

“However, my concern lately is with the number of Christians who seem to have little problem with ‘liking’ pages or comments on Facebook that have words or images which contain coarse, vulgar language, like the ‘f’ word.

“The bad language used by unbelievers is one thing; we should not be surprised at that. But condoning or commending it, even not being offended by it, on the part of those who confess Christ as their Lord is another thing altogether.

“The Lordship of Christ extends to the words we use and how we use them. We have to speak to all, always, as if we were speaking directly to him.”

The Knock Free Church minister quoted the examples of Proverbs 22:11: “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend” and also Paul’s statement in Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Mr MacIver continued: “Our way of speaking is a vital element in our efforts to speak for Christ and to guide people to him.

“Our Christian conversation will often not be well received but we must be careful never to reduce it to a sanctimonious criticism or a boring commendation of truth.

“Salty speech will often be challenging but never unloving, gracious but never compromising.

“‘With grace’ means that not only must our words be gracious but also that the effectiveness of our words does not depend on our skill with words but upon the grace of God.

“We can rely on God’s grace to guide our speaking, even to give us the right words. The Lord on our lips is also the Lord of our lips.”