The recent dust-up over who should pay the cost of contraceptives helped slam shut an opportunity to explore an increasing and damaging price of sex outside of marriage – sexually transmitted diseases, (STDs or STIs); none are prevented by birth control. Rush Limbaugh could have directed his audience and those who do not listen to some troubling facts. But he couldn’t resist some smart remarks about a young woman who wanted the US government to pay for her birth control; they were hard to hear, even for long-time listeners. The radio talk show host apologized, admitting he blew it. Therefore, the timing of an e-mail* from Peacemaker Ministry seemed fitting. Here’s what Ken Sande wrote about reckless words:
Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth
"Even a fool is thought wise…and discerning if he holds his tongue." Proverbs 17:28
Reckless words, spoken hastily and without thinking, inflame many conflicts. "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" (Prov. 12:18; cf. Prov. 13:3; 17:28; 21:23; 29:20). Although we may seldom set out deliberately to hurt others with our words, sometimes we do not make much of an effort not to hurt others. We simply say what comes to mind without thinking about the consequences. In the process, we may hurt and offend others, which only aggravates conflict. . . . (emphasis added)
Tragically, women do die because of unplanned pregnancies – more babies, however, die from these unintentional conceptions. What is appalling, and still unaddressed, is that approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections are thought to occur each year.
These infections affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. But almost half of new infections are among young people ages 15 to 24. Women are also severely affected by STIs. They have more frequent and more serious health problems from STIs than men. African-American women have especially high rates of infection. (source)
A powerful entertainer and social commentator made reckless comments and we missed an opportunity to begin a worthwhile discussion on a serious public health issue, again – and all because of someone’s exercising their right to speak plainly. So, what we remember is rude remarks – and the firestorm that erupted – not solutions to the damaging personal, medical, and social problems that erupt from sex with a multitude of partners.
The lesson I learned from Mr. Limbaugh’s catastrophic lapse of good sense and common decency, and from Mr. Sande’s apt reminder is opening my mouth without engaging my brain and heart loses listeners. Even reckless speech may be my right – but that constitutional freedom is an opportunity that thoughtless words will destroy.
Peacemaker ministry’s e-mail redirected my disappointment over a missed opportunity to reconsider how I say what I say:
What have you said recently without thinking?
The word "reckless" usually conjures up images of someone driving a car with no concern for the people around them. A reckless driver can cause havoc on the highway, putting his or her life, as well as the lives of others, in harm's way. If we spot someone driving recklessly, we usually grab our cell phones and alert the police. But what about someone speaking recklessly?
Simply saying what comes to mind can be looked upon as being authentic and honest. People admire the plain-speak quality and often promote folks who can do it. But it can also be looked upon as not thinking, or reckless. The lives of the one speaking and those hearing then are caught in harm's way. And if you're caught in harm's way, the result is usually some kind of harm.
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.
A wise woman, when she opens her mouth, the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Prov. 31:26) * PeaceMeal is a publication of Peacemaker® Ministries. Copyright 2012. Reprinted with permission. To sign up for this free weekly email publication, go to the Peacemaker Ministries website at www.Peacemaker.net/epubs.