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Feb. 22, 2020

Should there be a limit to speech used in conversations?

Should there be a limit to speech used in conversations?

I was having dinner with some friends recently - when one of them made a comment that the last podcast was borderline. Now he wasn't saying the subject itself was borderline but the examples that came up were in and of themselves borderline of being inappropriate. What he was referring to were the examples that came up when I was trying to get Josh to understand his illogical arguments he was making that someone could not be too transparent with another person. Since I was trying to make a point - I went to the "border" and asked if me asking one of them about their sexual past would be transparent. Of course - Josh didn't get any of this - but if you want to listen to that - you can check out that episode at the bottom of this page.

This got me to thinking - can something go too far when trying to make a point?  Now - I am not talking about language that is calling for the death/imprisonment/harm/ruin of someone and/or a group of people - I think anyone who is being honest can say that is going too far. Beyond that - is there a subject (sexual, etc) that makes a conversation too borderline to be appropriate?

I've wrestled with this thought for a couple of days now and I have come to the conclusion that there is no good clear answer to this that answers it for everyone and for every situation. Now this sounds like a copout but hang with me a few moments here. Typically when one determines if something is or isn't appropriate they filter it through how they see the world ( their worldview) and this determines how they react to it.  So me being a thirty something, midwestern, half-Mexican/half white European mutt, Christian has a different worldview then say someone from the east coast that is agnostic.  Beyond the personal worldview of how I see things, there are then the others who are in the same circles as me that have opinions on what is or is not appropriate as far as subject/language is concerned. The typical Christian response (and I agree with this) is that profaned language is not appropriate - and for the most part people tend to apply this only to curse words/etc. Where I tend to diverge from others that I know is that I don't believe any particular subject should be off limits.

This goes back to the whole point around why Use Your Words was started.  When I first started having these important and difficult conversations with Aaron - there were times when he would be too embarrassed to actually talk about the subject at hand and I would find myself usually telling him (repeatedly) "Use Your Words..." as we tackled these difficult conversations together. I find that we often (especially in the Christian community) do ourselves a disservice by staying away from the controversial topics in the Church and the people who have questions regarding those subjects end up needing to look to other places for input/opinions/answers on these subjects. Instead of feeling free to talk about these questions they have, they have to turn to other sources - sources typically which will tell them to do what makes them feel good.

I would rather these topics be tackled head on.

But what about using those topics as examples to get a point across? Can they be useful? I believe they can. Unlike profane language (that is language that has no point other then to be used in a vulgar way) these topics are for the most part neutral. They are not naturally profane, and typically only are given the profane modifier by how they are referenced and talked about. But when used to make a point - it can be something that can be used in the context of good lifting the topic from neutral to good.

So should there be a limit? As a matter of law - no. As a matter of personal discretion that ultimately comes down to you personally, but I believe that no topic - even those uncomfortable topics or maybe a little impolite for public discussion - should naturally be off limits unless you personally have decided not to engage in that conversation, then by all means don't use those things in discussion.

Something that might make you blush and might be embarrassing to you may be what makes sense for someone else and helps them make sense of the topic. We live in a very varied world/society - and some topics are just not for some people.