Kirsten Hildebrand, Democrat from New York was reported to have cursed when making a speech. It has been commented on that there is a lot of cursing and swearing going on out there. The head of the Democrat National Committee cannot, it seems, put three sentences together with out binding them with obscenities. What is strange is that these remarks and words are used to show frustration with someone that they claimed to be a vulgarian who said terrible things.
It is a truism that most people are religiously ignorant and that there is even among Lutherans an inability to think in Biblical ways. The catechism that we relentlessly teach still seems to be a closed book to many.
So back to the catechism. Cursing and swearing is listed in the explanation of the Second Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”.
Cursing is a specific thing dealing with the majesty of the divine name. Using the name of the Lord to call down His anger or punishment on a person is a curse. I haven’t heard anyone cursing each other yet although I wouldn’t doubt it has happened.
Swearing is a specific thing when we use God’s name to witness to a lie or confirm a truth in a frivolous or silly way. Most people are stunned to find out that the thousands of times a day they say “I swear to God” they are breaking this commandment.
So the deluge of filth and obscenity and real barbarism that passes for comedy, award acceptance speeches, political rallys and late night TV is not cursing or swearing, at least not in the religious sense. I do not doubt that some have tried to damn others to hell but I am not sure the Biblical prohibition was breached.
What has been breached however was a certain sense of decorum, of public civility, of discourse that led to knowledge or conveyed it. The weaponization of language and the filth and innuendo that passes for political speech is beyond the pale and marks a new low in a society that many thought had already reached it.
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