Monday, 23 July 2012

Wash Your Mouth Out with Soap

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

When I was a child one of the weapons wielded by some parents was the threat of washing one’s mouth out with soap.  Triggering events could be talking back to parents, being disrespectful or using vulgar language, etc.  I have not heard that expression used in years.  Of course now you would have to text the message to your child.

I started to think that I never heard that expression applied to an adult.  I could never imagine my mother saying to my father “if you speak to me in that tone again I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap,” not that my father would have ever warranted such a warning.

But maybe we should consider instituting such a penalty.  First of all God would not have given us this command in Ephesians 4:29 if all of our speech were wholesome.  Consider the following:

James 3:3-12 in The Message says

3-5A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

 5-6It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

 7-10This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

 10-12My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

John Gottman
John Gottman, noted clinical psychologist specializing in marriage, has identified criticism and contempt as two relationship killers. There are no erase buttons, no rewind buttons and no judge to tell the jury to disregard that last comment.  If this blog convicted you go chew on a bar of soap.

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