The hidden meaning of taboo words

Bridget Brenton explains why she gave up "colourful talk"

bad words

When my brother and I were young kids, we used to sit in the back of the car and carefully under hushed breath say words like 'bum' and 'pee' and 'poop', with fits of giggles following.

Later on in high school I used to think taboo words made me sound tough and used 'colourful language' as much as possible, thinking proudly that nobody would expect it from a tiny blonde girl like myself.

What is it about taboo words that make us want to say them? And why do many people think it's cool to use profanity?

A recent academic study found that babies often learn profanity before their ABCs.

From birth, our hearts are attracted to wrong rather than right, even before conscious or reasoned choice is involved.

The best explanation for this rebellious nature comes from the Bible's historical account and what it tells us about 'original sin'. Following the first rebellion of Adam and Eve against God, we have been born morally rebellious against His perfectly good nature and character.

Some taboo words are intended to demean the intrinsic value of people — stripping a person of the absolute worth they were born with when God created them in His image through offensive language.

In other cases people use taboo words to emphasise their anger and offend others, perhaps hoping to incite anger by offending their moral conscience. There is a noticeable difference between saying someone is 'lazy' or someone is 'a lazy &#$&*'.

Likewise, there is a reason people use the name of their perfect Creator in vain – either by saying Holy (insert word here) or using the name of God or Christ as if it was a curse word.

Original sin (the wayward heart) best explains the existence of profanity and the offensiveness of words – something that, if we evolved with no God, doesn't make sense. There needs to be a God to offend in order for these words to be wrong, since people will realise they're wrong even if they say them with no living person around to hear them.

If there were no offense in profanity then people wouldn't do it. But it's not because it's shocking to other people, it's because a watching God must exist to offend by using these words and by misusing His Holy name.

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