August 31, 2009
Why Swearing is Good for You (NOT!!)
A couple of weeks ago Time magazine had an interesting article in its “Health” section. It was entitled, “Why swearing is good for you…It not only vents frustration, but a new study shows it actually alleviates physical pain.” (Time, August 10, 2009)
The article cited a couple of studies, one of women in labor and the other regarding college students who immersed their hands in ice water. Apparently in both studies, there was actual pain relief when the mom or college kid let rip with a vile curse word. Supposedly the participants’ heart rates were higher when they cursed than when they repeated a neutral word. “In swearing, people have an emotional response and it’s the emotional response that actually triggers the reduction in pain, says Richard Stephens, the study’s lead author.”
Later in the article, Harvard psychologist, Steven Pinker went on to warn that repeated use of such F words would ultimately blunt the therapeutic effect of swearing. He warned, “You should save them for just the right occasions.”
What a riot…using that logic, pretty soon we are going to read articles encouraging us to smash our cars into other cars when the drivers irritate us. It will have a medicinal affect on us as our anger is dissipated in the accident!
Swearing is indeed rampant in our culture and too often a part of the life of believers. “Oops, I am sorry” has come from the lips of many Christian friends. But what does the scripture say about our choice of words?
Colossians 4:6 urges us to make sure our conversations are filled with grace (not foul sounding words). The Psalmist (34:13) told us to keep our tongue from evil. Solomon declared, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (Prov. 13:3). And James sums it up for us, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
Maybe a mom struggling through 10 hours of labor may get a brief relief from pain as she mutters a swear word, but what does it say about her character? Might that be the first word her child ever heard her speak? And maybe a bunch of college kids will get a moment of relief from the frozen arm syndrome, but what does the expletive say about their limited vocabulary?
So this week, let’s be intentional about what we say. Let’s make sure that our words edify and build up those around us. Let’s make sure we carefully select our adjectives and let them reflect a creative rather than a dirty mind.
“May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord….”
Warmest Regards in Christ,
Sherry L. Worel
Stoneybrooke Christian Schools