April 25th, 2007

Our Words


photo credit: wiseacre

Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause. (Victor Hugo, via Quoty)

Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail. (Jeffrey R. Holland, The Tongues of Angels)

It is very easy for us to let our unbridled tongues speak negatively of others. It is even easier to let our unbridled fingers do damage in writing a harsh email, a scathing blog post, or an acrimonious comment.

We’re all guilty of it, some more than others. Some hypocritically lift themselves up to higher ground and cast their vilifying darts at the people below, while others look up from below to criticize, disparage, and tear down.

As Elder Holland masterfully taught us in this past conference, these things ought not to be.

But they are. Why? Why do some tear others down and ridicule? Why do some mock and blaspheme? Why do others criticize and gossip? What is it about human nature that encourages such behavior? As people seeking to establish Zion, should we not be living a higher law? After all, even our very thoughts will ultimately condemn us if they are not at a Zion standard:

For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. (Alma 12:14)

I’m very aware (through various sources) that there are some who strongly disagree with my opinions and beliefs. I’m aware of what some of these people say, both in public and private. It’s disappointing to see the spirit that accompanies such backbiting and contention. Christ would definitely disapprove.

On my part, I’d like to apologize to anybody I may have offended in the past in a blog post, letter, email, in person, or any other interaction. Though some of my blog posts (usually the more political ones) can be blunt and direct in calling out what I see as wrong or evil, I try not to directly attack an individual. I try not to gossip or speak ill of others. I’m sure there have been plenty of instances where I fell short of that expectation I have of myself, so if I’ve offended or spoken ill of any of you, I humbly apologize. Please forgive me and be patient with me as I work on improving myself and becoming perfect in Christ.

I truly hope that we can all strive to use our words as weapons for good. We must make an exerted effort in our daily communication to build each other up. Only then will the gospel prosper and Zion be brought about.

13 Responses to “Our Words”

  1. Aaron
    April 25, 2007 at 10:13 am #

    Amen.
    Nice post.
    Another scripture that fits this topic can be found in Proverbs 15:1:
    A soft answer turneth away wrath, but greivous words stir up anger.
    My rule of thumb is this: If I can feel the spirit in writing a post or response, then I proceed. If I feel negatively passionate towards the author, I refrain from responding. Even if my view on a particular topic may be more accurate (and that is always up for debate), I will only contribute to contention if I feel anything but Christlike love towards the person with which I am communicating. I think the key is how I regard the person, not the actual words I am using. When I have unconditional positive regard towards somebody, my actions towards them could take one of many different forms, and still carry the spirit. If I feel contempt for somebody, that will come through regardless of what pretty words I might use.
    And it is true that people’s words reflect more about themselves than anything else. If Bob tells me that Jane is a “pain in the neck” I still know nothing about Jane (I’ve not met her). But I do know a little something about Bob!

  2. April 25, 2007 at 10:43 am #

    Connor,

    Nobody was backbiting you, we were telling you to your face (OK, your e-face) that we do not agree with you. And, when you resort to personal attacks, you were generally treated with the same back. You held up yourself as “orthodox” and condemned the heterodox. Not cool. If I held myself up as orthodox and contrasted myself with you, how cool do you think that would be? Uncool. It makes no difference who is doing it. Hence the advice to not pick at motes in other peoples eyes.

    Have a nice life.

  3. Connor
    April 25, 2007 at 10:52 am #

    Kurt,

    This post has absolutely nothing to do with the Orthodox post. Your choice in taking offense to words that had nothing to do with any single individual, including yourself, was quite imprudent in my opinion.

    And I will have a nice life. Thanks, Kurt!

  4. April 25, 2007 at 10:52 am #

    Why? Why do some tear others down and ridicule? Why do some mock and blaspheme? Why do others criticize and gossip? What is it about human nature that encourages such behavior?

    The Impulse to criticise, belittle, and oughtright persecute others, is one I am sure we are all personally familiar with. As to why we do so, there are a few reasons I can think of. Pride and Narcissism are two. Another is falling into the trap of blaming others for problems that belong to us.

    I have noticed that when people are harsh and critical, often the person they are hardest upon (by far) is themselves. In other words, we believe that we can never be forgiven for our mistakes, so why should we tolerate the imperfections of others? Unless we are truly narcissists, it may be difficult to have an inflated ego, without also having an inflated sense of our own guilt.

    In the case of gossip, the reason is simple: petty backyard politics. We believe that by strategically stlinging mud at others, we can make ourselves look better, elevate our own social status, and possibly make money…. (Jerry Springer, for example)

    In the Parable of the Indebted Servant, Jesus teaches that in persecuting and refusing to forgive others, we ourselves will fall under far greater condemnation. Needless to say, forgiving and refusing to speak ill of others is an essential and integral part of repentance. Once we realize that God loves and values each and every one of us infinitely, the mistakes and imperfections of others become a cause for sorrow, love, and compassion; not for anger and frustration.

    Criticism, gossip and downright evil speech seem especially epidemic in the online community. I believe one of the reasons for this is the relative annonymity and lack of accountability to be found here. Perhaps we feel that without an honest reputation to protect, we are free to let loose all the anger, frustration, and darkness inside of us, as if no one will ever hold up the mirror of accountability. (This recalls the psychological concept of the “Shadow”, of Carl Jung)

    On my part, I’d like to apologize to anybody I may have offended in the past in a blog post, letter, email, in person, or any other interaction………I’m sure there have been plenty of instances where I fell short of that expectation I have of myself, so if I’ve offended or spoken ill of any of you, I humbly apologize……….I truly hope that we can all strive to use our words as weapons for good.

    Words well written. In liew of more typing, I think I will substitute these for my own……-J.W.

  5. Connor
    April 25, 2007 at 11:05 am #

    Josh,

    Agreed. You make several good points I think we’d all do well to remember. I concur that the anonymity provides more security for certain people to lambaste others without being accountable (except to God) for their words…

  6. April 25, 2007 at 12:50 pm #

    Nothing to do with it? OK, Connor, then what it is all about? And if not, then when are you going to admit your misreading of the whole orthodoxy thing is totally contrary to the Scriptural approach?

    And where did I take offense? Nowhere. Oh, and thanks for accusing me of being imprudent. Very much appreciated.

    It is entertaining to me that in a post where you are allegedly apologizing profusely for being offensive and obnoxious, and telling your readers you are going to try to do better at being nice and charitable, you go and make silly accusations.

  7. Connor
    April 25, 2007 at 12:57 pm #

    Kurt,

    Please don’t assume that I need to explain my intentions behind this post to you. I have several reasons behind why I wrote this post, none of which are really any of your concern. If you wish to believe that it stems entirely from the orthodoxy post, feel free to do so, my friend.

    And I’m glad that you’re entertained.

  8. April 25, 2007 at 3:26 pm #

    Oh, yeah, I always find weak apologies masquerading as an excuse to attack others and call them to repentance to be real entertainment. I mean, really, that is what you are doing here, right? Calling your detractors to repentance?

    So, this is about SnarkerNacle and Trash Calls, then, right? You dont like the fact that they are making fun of your self-styled brand of evangelism?

  9. Connor
    April 25, 2007 at 3:31 pm #

    Kurt,

    Case in point.

  10. April 25, 2007 at 4:18 pm #

    Oh, you can accuse me of imprudence, and that isnt a “case in point”? Why do your rules of conduct only apply to others?

  11. Connor
    April 25, 2007 at 4:37 pm #

    Why do your rules of conduct only apply to others?

    They don’t. I apologize.

  12. Heather W
    March 13, 2008 at 8:54 pm #

    The quote from David O. McKay comes to mind as I read your blog…”Words do not convey meanings; they call them forth. I speak out of the context of my experience and you listen out of the context of yours and that is why communication is difficult.” Thank you for the great insight!

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