Recently, King’s kaleidoscope released a new album, and it’s possible that you don’t know who they are, and that’s not really the point. They are christians who as a band do a very good job of articulating solid doctrinal truths in a solid, musical way. I appreciate them very much for that. But, in their most recent album, there is a song where they say the “F-word” once. It has caused quite a stir among the christian community that follows them.
Now, I’m not writing this in order to discuss the merits or lack thereof found in the presence or absence of using strong language. My point isn’t whether or not it’s wrong to say that word. My point is that, regardless of the morality of that word, they were mistaken to use it when and where they did. Their use of that word lacked propriety.
In an interview where the author of that song explained why he used the word, he said that he’d used that specific word in a prayer he’d prayed, and since the song was about that specific prayer, he put the word in the song. But that’s just the problem isn’t it? He thought that since it had happened in his personal life, that it was appropriate for his public life. The unfortunate truth for many though, is that personal and public life are not the exact same, and we must have a sense of propriety in order to know the difference.
The issue is deeper than a man cussing in a song though, because it seems as though this line of thinking has invaded every sphere of our lives. With the advent of Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram etc…all the way back to MySpace, the lines between public and private life have been shifting. Now, I have absolutely no problem with social media platforms, in fact, I love them! I have used them since their inception. But, as many people have acknowledged over the past 10 years, these platforms have changed their users.
In some ways, I think these changes have been good, and that there have been some great things that have happened because of these platforms. I don’t want to discuss those right now though. I don’t even really want to harp on social media and it’s dangers, that’s not my point. My point is that no matter what might be there to share some of the blame, it is clear that a lack of propriety is becoming increasingly dangerous for our society. It goes beyond sharing pics of what you are eating. It even goes beyond speaking of your latest trip to the restroom to any who will listen. Instead, it’s become common to believe that if you are sincere, if you are being real, and if you are stating something that you believe is true, then it doesn’t matter what it is, you should be allowed to say it anywhere, at any time, for any reason.
But surely you wouldn’t think to stand up in the middle of a wedding and exclaim that you had diarrhea last night? You wouldn’t think to post every time you and your spouse had sex would you? Surely you wouldn’t yell the “F-word” during a worship service, right? Well, maybe as long as you really meant it, and it accurately reflected the way you were feeling, it would be ok…or at least that’s what seems to be going on. But that is so very troubling. Public life and private life are supposed to be different, and yet it seems like that doesn’t matter very much anymore. In just the last few months, as I’ve gone about the daily duties of being a pastor, I’ve encountered situations where a lack of propriety in knowing when and when not to share things would’ve been disastrous! And yet, I fear that many people have no clue that there even are such lines!
The idea that there are right and wrong times to say things, or that there are right and wrong ways to act depending on your situation seems to be fading away, and in its place is the idea that as long as you are real and transparent, anything goes. And although I don’t like that the lost world is moving ever more in that direction, what’s even scarier is that christians are accepting that line of thinking!
I have christian friends who are going to vote for Donald Trump, some who may even read my blog post here, and so I want to say that although I disagree with them, my point isn’t to say anything about his qualifications or lack thereof. Instead, what is so confusing to me is that many of them (not all, but many) will say that one of the things that they love about Trump is how he “always speaks his mind” and doesn’t allow political norms to govern the way he does things. And although there is certainly something to be said for transparency (it’s a must for a presidential candidate!), there is a huge difference between being transparent, and exhibiting a lack of propriety to fit the circumstances.
But even then, my disappointment isn’t in Donald Trump, but instead, in the christians who would raise up his seeming disregard for societal norms as something that is automatically endearing. Why is it that someone who “always speaks their mind” is someone to be admired? What saith the scriptures regarding such people?
Proverbs 29:11 – The fool vents all his feelings, but the wise person keeps them to himself.
Proverbs 25:11 – A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
What does the bible call someone who always speaks their mind? What does scripture call someone who shows a disregard for propriety? God calls them foolish.
It’s not meaning “fool” as in some sort of “cosmic name-calling” way, but in the sense that they lack wisdom.
My fear is that, whether it’s because of the way that social media publicizes our private lives, or whether it’s simply because of the increasing secularization of our culture, or whether one of those feeds the other, or whether it’s something else entirely…my fear is that christians are thinking and acting like the fools of Proverbs.
If you are reading this, my hope would simply be that you would consider God’s words regarding the idea of propriety, and that you consider that public life and private life are not the same. Whether it’s regarding a major album, or the right way to speak about any given issue, or the criteria you use to determine who you’ll vote for, God calls christians to be wise, not foolish.