Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Why I Can't Abide the "F" Word


This word has become more acceptable in everyday talk, although it usually is bleeped out on television (even when blasphemy is not).  But it makes my blood pressure rise.  I don’t just hear a word that we shouldn’t say; I hear much more. 

Now, let me state right off that the common belief that it is an acronym started by the British cops for prostitutes is wrong, and that is not the real etymology of the word.  They may have used it for that, but the real source is Old English and German for the act of sex, but in an immoral and even cruel context.  It was not a pleasant or acceptable word then—i.e., it was obscene—and it still is.

Secondly, I have taken a grad course in linguistics and have read about deconstructionism and general semantics and all that, so don’t tell me words don’t really have meaning except what we give it.  There is some truth to that, in the sense that language is a shared experience and people create meanings together, but to me it’s also a simple way to just dismiss profanity and other types of lazy speech—poor grammar, unclear language choices, slang (not that slang is all bad, it can be quite colorful).   Language does morph over time, and sometimes by our choices, but language also affects and to some extent creates our ways of thinking.  I would point to some research done on the use of gender in Spanish, French, and Italian and reported on NPR.  To us English speakers, the fact that a book gets a “masculine” article and a bridge gets a “feminine” one in Spanish makes no sense.  Why can’t a book be feminine?  But when Spanish speakers were asked to describe a bridge, they used more feminine adjectives such as “supportive” and “beautiful” while English speakers used more masculine-oriented adjectives such as “strong.”  Language affects our thinking in ways we can’t imagine.  Acceptance of a coarse language coarsens us. 

And you antinomian Christians, don’t even go there—we don’t have that kind of freedom. Our freedom is to obey the Holy Spirit, not throw off restraint.  I can’t believe anybody actually believes or practices otherwise.     

Let’s just be honest.  The f word is always used to mean violent sex.  Something that is supposed to be about affection, commitment, production of new life, and even theologically (although we can’t take this too far, and it’s only in the marriage relationship) a picture of Christ and the church’s union—that act is denigrated down to something you do to someone you hate to demean and vilify him o her.  And while some violent sex is done by men to men, most of it is done by men to women, and not willingly.  We call it rape.  To me, the f word is the same as rape, and to accept it is to accept rape. 

I was recently reading an author who I thought was more “conservative” or “respectful” and she used the “f” word loosely to refer to the sexual act the character was participating in.  Perhaps it was to give the book “wider” appeal but it disappointed me.  Maybe it is short-hand for careless sex, sex that is mechanical without commitment or love, and maybe that was the point.  But it only proves my point that it is not a word that should be thrown around loosely.  However, if one watches much media from Hollywood, that word and other blasphemy will get so ingrained into one’s mind that it is hard to avoid the temptation.

Now, I decided to write about this for an odd reason.  I was studying my Sunday Bible Study lesson on Psalm 2 where the text says, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry.”  Kissing is an interesting thing.  We associate it with affection, but we also associate it with submission, and even forced submission.  “Kiss my ….” We say when angry at someone (pick the body part.  I know I’ve said this enough in my life.)  Mediterranean peoples kiss more frequently than we do, men to men, women to women.  We can kiss the Son because of affection or because of submission.  It’s our choice, but we will do it one way or another eventually. 

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