Well, it happened again. The Super Bowl half-time entertainment featured another "oops" moment.
This time, it wasn't a wardrobe malfunction, such as what infamously happened when Janet Jackson was performing during the 2004 Super Bowl. Instead, it was a different body part that was exposed to the camera. Specifically, it was the middle finger of British-born rapper M.I.A., extended in front of the camera and an estimated audience of 111.3 million viewers. Like the 2004 incident, the TV network who broadcast the Super Bowl, along with the NFL, was quick to issue apologies. The Federal Communications Commissions will likely issue six-figure fines for the middle-finger salute.
Now granted, worse things are regularly seen and heard on network television. It's just a finger, after all. On the other hand, that finger is a universally-understood obscene gesture representing "the queen mother of dirty words" (according to Ralphie, the main character in the movie "A Christmas Story"). To flash that gesture deliberately, and apparently premeditatedly, in front of one of the largest prime time television audiences ever is inexcusable.
Sadly, it wasn't terribly unexpected. Not that uttering vulgarities, curses, and blasphemies are anything new. But crude, vulgar, and offensive speech is practically the norm anymore, it seems. Movie stars and athletes drop more F-bombs these days than a B-17. It isn't just celebrities whose mouths spew that stuff, however. Few of us can claim a perfect or even good track record when it comes to guarding our tongues.
So why is it important for us to watch our mouths? Good manners are one reason. I fear for a society that tolerates and even promotes boorishness among the people it claims to look up to. But even more important, for those of us who call ourselves Christians, we represent our Savior and our faith every time we step out into the world and open our mouths, whether we realize it or not. What impressions are we giving others about the Lord when our language is offensive? St. James wrote, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be" (James 3:9.10).
Those of us who find foul words spilling from our lips on a regular basis probably wouldn't do that if our grandmothers were watching, would we? So why do it when we know our Lord is watching? Instead of peppering our speech with offensive words (or using offensive gestures), let's follow our Savior's advice: "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37).
- Brent Merten is pastor of Mountain Valley Lutheran Church, 802 Brush Creek Terrace, Eagle.