American society has become increasingly vulgar in my lifetime. Standards of decency on television and in theaters have marched into the gutter at an alarming rate. Marijuana, known for years as a major gateway drug, has received legal status in some states. Sexual content has grown so prevalent that commercials contain as much indecency as was once allowed in theaters. While this layer of immorality existed in past decades, it previously remained hidden in the background. Now it has turned mainstream. All of these problems are but symptoms of the degenerate nature of our culture, and nothing indicates this downward spiral shows any indication of slowing. Quite to the contrary. The astounding pace at which the country changed from assumed opposition to homosexuality to embracing it and other forms of perversion should alarm any who are concerned about the moral underpinnings of society. This has taken many by surprise; however, in fact, there is a warning sign that has predicted declining morality in society, whether in social media, entertainment media, or in personal interaction—the tongue.
David opined about the ungodly of his day and noticed this connection as well. “Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, And the tongue that speaks proud things, Who have said, ‘With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; Who is lord over us?’” (Psa. 12:1-4). The tongue serves as a good barometer for a person’s heart because it is the easiest means by which to express the heart and the hardest to suppress (Jas. 3:1-8). Therefore, how we speak and what we accept in speech as a society provides an excellent indication of our interests, our morality, and our standards. Whether art imitates life or life imitates art, it remains clear that neither is imitating Christ, and that is the real problem. It is hard to believe that the producers of Gone with the Wind were fined for including one instance of profanity while today producers seem insistent on adding profanity and more until they can get the rating they want. This one word is now commonplace on television and radio, and I have even heard more than one Christian use it in my hearing—as if nothing was wrong with it! Truly we have tied our morality to society instead of to the Savior. To our shame! How sad it is that Christians today will congratulate themselves for not using the most vulgar language available while still using all kinds of crude speech, telling crude jokes, and otherwise lowering all expectation of high standards among God’s people. This too is part of the barometer. Many Christians often comfort themselves because they remain at the top (let us hope!) of the morality chart but remain oblivious to how they themselves have let their own standards drop as the nation continues its descent.
Ask yourself, “If a person will compromise his speech in conformity to the world, what else will he compromise?” It is a legitimate question because history supports the connection. Many today want to emphasize Christian disciplines but never want to address the tongue, which requires some of the greatest discipline. Friends, if your speech is laced with vulgarity, euphemisms, flattery, and lies, it really does not matter how much or how often you fast. Your speech advertises your heart; therefore, speech unconcerned with standards indicates a heart uninterested in truth. It may not show in the moment, but it will in a lifetime. Just watch Gone with the Wind.