The Rise of the Middle Finger — the Normalizing of Foul Language in Our Culture
I remember the shock I felt decades ago at the sudden explosion of an F-bomb.
Many years ago, I worked in a video rental store. Back in the day your local video store was frequented by all, often ending in frustration as the person in front of you in line rented the last copy of the latest, greatest movie.
One family visited our store regularly. However, they were unlike any of our regular customers. They never walked past the new releases or down the aisles filled with dramas, comedies, thrillers and horror movies. Each time they marched through the door they went, as a uniquely awkward family, to the family section. They would choose an old, probably boring, yet crispy clean movie to watch together as a family. One day I asked them if they had seen one of the mega-popular new movies (that was most likely rated PG). Their answer has stuck with me to this very day. “No, we don’t watch any movie that’s not rated G.”
Not one unholy word would ever be intentionally consumed nor casually ignored in the name of entertainment.
The Karate Kid in Church
Years later I was in a packed church for a special multimedia-driven sermon. The guest speaker brought up the movie The Karate Kid on the giant screen. He asked for a show of hands of those who had seen the movie. Hundreds of hands shot up into the air representing nearly 100% of those in attendance. He then asked one of the youth workers, an authentically righteous lover of Jesus, what he thought of the movie. He carefully replied, knowing that he was being set up. “Well, I think it had good life lessons, and good moral principles. It was clean and wholesome.”
At that moment the preacher hit play on the remote. The church was filled with gasps of horror as the cranked-up speakers boomed the words of the main character in the movie, Daniel. He aggressively hurled the profanity God **** over and over in a moment of ferocious venting toward Mr. Miyagi. Understand, this was happening in a church that was known for its fervent pursuit of holiness. To say that what happened stunned everyone would be a severe understatement. People were aghast. Offended.
What the man of God said next remains with me to this day. “So, you casually and eagerly admitted that you have watched this movie. What I just played, and more, filled your homes and your spirits, yet you are somehow offended that you heard it in the church?”
His point was clear. Hypocrisy was exposed.
Being True to Our Authentic Self?
I watched a TikTok video of a woman asking a popular motivational speaker, “Why do you find it necessary to use foul language in your speeches?”
As if prepared in advance, the raw, abrasive yet skilled orator immediately retorted his defense. For him, it’s more important to be true to his authentic self than to abide by arbitrary rules and norms. He genuinely believes his success is directly related to his authenticity. He admitted to cussing in front of his children and not being concerned that they do the same at school. Of course, the F’s flew in his crafty, unapologetic response, unconcerned about defiling the souls around him.
Another video from a family of social media influencers featured children repeatedly thrusting their middle fingers in the air, all with their dad encouraging their behavior.
I suppose this father-of-the-year candidate is supporting his little ones’ venture to be true to their authentic selves. How tragic that people define who they are by that which is vile, immoral and repugnant.
This is the state of our cave-dark world.
Evil Language Has Gone Mainstream
I’ve ventured into many caves over the years, and an extremely disorienting moment comes when all the lights are turned off. Perfect darkness. Your brain thinks it’s seeing your hand waving in front of your wide-open eyes, but it’s not. It’s an illusion. The darkness is blinding. This type of darkness is altogether different than what we would experience walking through a dark alley or when we turn off the lights to go to bed at night. It’s all encompassing.
This is the ink-like blackness that’s overshadowing the earth today. The world is getting more wicked, and, sadly, it’s sucking much of the church into its black hole of immorality.
Foul language in movies and media is routinely ignored as insignificant by many professing Christians today. A born-again believer might very well feel singled out by the smirks and rolled eyes when they make their decision to live consecrated lives. Their devotion to holiness is worthy of mocking by their brothers and sisters in Christ it seems.
Until the church finally washes its mouth out with the soap of the refining Word of God, we can’t expect to see a move of righteous living in our nation. The F-bombs will keep detonating as if they were mere firecrackers. The truth is, a culture that has become defiled in this manner will embrace all sorts of fleshly, repulsive behavior.
Just the other day I was eating with some friends in a nice, family restaurant. I was shocked when a song playing quietly in the background filled the air with F’s and other foul words. How can this be okay? Normal? Not concerning?
A common irritant can be found in seemingly innocuous online news articles that for some unknown reason have to drop the F word into it. One moment I’m reading about a new cell phone on a tech website and the next I’m attacked by unnecessary and offensive obscenities.
For now, evil language has gone mainstream. Our world needs Jesus so very badly.
We Need a Holiness Movement in Our Nation
The cursing and defilement of our culture will only get worse. The darkness is thick and the light is despised. The church’s hypocrisy is clear as Christians are filling their souls with evil by devouring inappropriate movies, articles, music and videos.
The only hope is for widespread repentance and a refusal to allow ourselves to be tainted by the deadly curses (cursings) that our culture has adopted as benign.
Let’s contend for revival in a spirit of holiness as we take a stand against the darkness in our nation. The entertainment we so love isn’t worth the degrading of our souls.
John Burton is a sought out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored ten books, is a regular contributor to Charisma Magazine, and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. He has planted two churches and has initiated two city prayer movements and a school of ministry.