The other F-word

I keep an informal account of my stress levels on a day to day basis, partly detached interest and partly because keeping track of something helps a person to manage it. After all, you can’t normally change something when you can’t put figures to it.


I call it the F-Index: the time of day after waking up at which my frustration or anger spills out into the F word that is not polite in good company. If you don’t know which F word then rent a movie like ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘Bad Boys’. On the particular morning I decided to put pen to paper about this my F-Index was 07h13. Now, that may seem early and put me in a hopelessly bad light but the context was driving in traffic with the possibility of being late for work. Not that the context mitigates my use of the word but it does provide, well…context. And believe you me, on some mornings the F-Index has been earlier than even that.


Conventional wisdom and research as to the particular question of swear words suggest that swearing when stressed or in pain does actually help deal with the stress or pain. As an aside, does it occur to you that we might be more stressed in this day and age? Or have people been uttering swear words with similar regularity throughout history? Interesting question however I lean towards the idea that it’s gotten more prevalent these days. In the current election season in America for example, candidate Donald Trump often uses cuss words in speeches and the truth be told, the crowds love it. Because, that’s the way that many ordinary people speak themselves.


When the Lord called Isaiah to be a prophet and begin a ministry (chapter 6, the year that Uzziah died), Isaiah’s reaction at seeing God was to immediately realise that he was a person of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips and that now his goose was well and truly cooked because he had seen the Lord is his holiness. Were the people in the year that Uzziah died a particularly salty people with foul mouths? Or could it be that they spoke horrible things about one another and God? Or griped the way the Children of Israel did in the desert? Or actually used words that God’s children should not use? I have questions, no answers, and an observation. Not being a theologian, I don’t know precisely at this moment what Isaiah was referring to by unclean lips, but I theorize about what it might mean. An observation however: no matter the reason, it seems clear that whatever the uncleanness Isaiah was referring to it originated from sin in the heart. In Isaiah’s account of when he saw the Lord, an angel touched his lips with a coal from the altar and his sin was dealt with.


On 26 March 2016, on Easter weekend of all times, the Sharks played a game of Super Rugby against the Crusaders in Durban and lost 14 – 19. The Television Match Official was responsible for adjudicating on a number of incidents, including tries as well as events leading up to them which saw the Sharks lose the match. As reported in the media (see references below), the Shark’s director of rugby approached the TMO on two occasions and without going into specifics, we can infer that highly impolite words were used. This is a breach of SANZAAR rules and admitting culpability at a hearing the Shark’s director of rugby was fined A$5 000.00 per incident. Plus legal costs. In local currency this amounts to more than R100 000.00. If I were to apply the same standard of cost to myself, I would have been wiped out long ago.


This is where the other F-word comes in: forgiveness. He forgives our sins, and of importance to me, my sins and my many infractions of the command to ‘let no unwholesome talk’ come out of my mouth. There is far more Scriptural basis than merely Isaiah 6 and Ephesians 4: 29 for avoiding cussing and speaking what is helpful. There are far more verses about His forgiveness and grace however, including the final words of Scripture in Revelation: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” Gold sanctioned for crude behaviour

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