Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

A plea to be less obscene

Friday, October 04, 2019

Do Australian’s have a problem with self-awareness? She thinks she looks good in that outfit but I am not going to tell her the truth. They think they are really important but their behaviour embarrasses us all.  He walks into a room and opens his mouth oblivious to who else might be in the room. You could add other examples.

I was at an event recently and I was surprised by the language and comments of some.  Historically my father and his peers might have reacted with immediacy and nipped such behaviour in the bud.  There was a time when peer group pressure silenced the disgusting but it seems that now you would be a brave person to challenge the disgusting.  I am not sure if we have just become an openly obscene culture, a naïve culture or just one lacking self-awareness. You might expect alcohol fuelled obscenities but more and more we find that no alcohol is needed to be obscene.

I write this article as a plea. My plea is this – keep the obscene private if you must be obscene. That’s a statement to reflect on. Even if you refrain from public obscenity and restrict such outbursts to when no one else is around, it’s worth realising you are still being obscene. Not something I think we want on our social media profile.

I am not sure anyone really wants to be considered obscene publically or privately. That makes me wonder if we are becoming unaware of the things we do and say and oblivious to who might be listening.  

When the man marched into a tight room I was sharing with many other people I had to wonder if he looked around and considered the crowd before opening his mouth. Were there women present? What about children? Even a Bishop or just people who don’t appreciate obscenity? Did he consider the person towards whom the obscenity was directed and their embarrassment in company? Were they just lacking self-awareness or were we getting a glimpse into the depth of human depravity?

I admit that even the obscene can be delivered humorously and create laughter. But is the laughter equally indicative of our lack of self-awareness or personal depravity? 

Of interest to me, outside another spoke obscenely and there was a moment of rebuke for which apology followed. Both the rebuke and the apology were acknowledgement that our obscenities are in fact inappropriate and worthy of apology. Is there something about our self-worth or our ego that is bound up with being obscene in front of our mates or are we just lacking self-awareness. Has the obscene slipped into our lives without us noticing it taking root in our hearts and revealing itself in our speech?

It has been said, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” Now there’s a diagnosis! I admit it’s a confronting one.  “Out of the heart the mouth speaks”, is also a very good diagnostic tool that offers insight into yourself and insight into others. I always encouraged my daughter, when she was young, to use this diagnostic tool when thinking about dating. Words often betray the heart.

That’s worth remembering next time we open our mouths as our words will offer everyone an insight into the person we are. 

At the Golf Club I recently noticed that they have a “Swear Jar”. I’ve not watched it carefully but I imagine it’s full of paid fines most of the time.  It’s a good reminder to be more self-aware but the real problem is the heart. 

My guess is that if you can admit the problem is the heart then you will know the value of prayer and your need of God to turn the heart to better things. It’s surprising how the mouth can betray the heart. Equally, if you are lacking self-awareness as you read this, it’s surprising how the heart can affect vision and deafen one’s ears.