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Teens & profanity

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–Name me a PG-13 film that doesn’t employ profanity (that is, language misusing God’s name). Shoot, even most PG films nowadays contain such language. And when you hear “Jesus” in a movie nowadays, it’s generally not spoken with regard for His Messiah-ship. Christ’s name is used more like an expletive. But let’s face it, by now, we’re pretty used to hearing the irreverent utterances in the movies. So, is the use of profanity that big of a deal?

I’d like to aim this piece at the dominant movie-going demographic: teenagers. My reasoning? I’ve already presented my thesis to oldsters many a time. But you — high schoolers — are who Hollywood aims to please — and teach.

Alas, I’m not one of you. I haven’t been a teenager since before you were born. And because of that age difference, we probably like different movies, different music, different clothes and different slang. But before you dismiss me as simply being a — what’s today’s euphemism for old fogey? — keep the following in mind. No matter the time on earth we call our generation, some things remain the same. Revering and respecting God should be something we have in common. It’s something we’re told to do in the Bible.

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7). Honoring God is a command — from God. If it weren’t important to Him, wouldn’t it not be on the list at all?

While we keep hearing that there’s too much violence and sexuality in movies, those are only symptoms of what ails our entertainment mediums. Consider for a moment: If you go to a surgeon and detail the symptoms you are suffering, the doctor doesn’t just treat the symptoms. If he does, the malady will re-manifest itself. Well, when it comes to spiritual matters, defying God is the malady. For it is only when we honor God that we begin to truly care for our fellow man. You with me?

Those who profane God’s name are breaking one of God’s laws. And although we Christians have been turning a deaf ear to the media’s usage of blasphemy for quite some time, should we continue to do so? That also begs the question: If modern-day man wrote their own Ten Commandments, would the misuse of God’s name make the list? Probably not.

There’s no indication in Exodus 20 that a movie storyteller is exempt from following the same commands as the rest of us, yet nearly every actor of this era misuses His name in the movies. Why are they so free with profanity?

I’m not sure if that disobedience of biblical teaching is done out of ignorance, disbelief or just defiance. But I do know from a lifetime of studying Scripture that the Ten Commandments are not just suggestions. They are guidelines for honoring our Heavenly Father and for caring about our fellow man.

Some people may ask: If misusing God’s name is such a big deal, then why aren’t people being smote all over the place? Our God is merciful and patient (2 Peter 3:9), but the Bible indicates that there is a price to be paid for disobedience or mockery. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). Read Psalm 73 and you’ll see that a time of justice will befall the unrighteous and those who live outside of God’s commands and refuse to make Jesus Lord of their life. Read the whole Bible and you’ll see what Hollywood often doesn’t.

You may not change the media. Just don’t let the media change you. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Phil Boatwright reviews films for previewonline.org and is a regular columnist for Baptist Press.

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  • Phil Boatwright