Every day we speak thousands of words. Dr. Louann Brizendine, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco states in her book “The Female Brain” that “A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000.” Of course the numbers fluctuate greatly depending upon the person, but no one can argue that words matter. As children, we learn the catchy idiom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Wrong! Bruises and scrapes from a physical fight fade and disappear with time. However, words spoken caustically occasionally inflict wounds that never completely heal.
The Bible speaks abundantly about the importance of guarding our tongues and controlling what flows from our mouths. Why? God knows words matter.
The Scriptures speak clearly:
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. Proverbs 13:3
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. Proverbs 21:23
Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. Proverbs 29:20
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. Proverbs 15:2
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. Proverbs 10:19
Missouri’s Republican Senatorial hopeful, Todd Akin, discovered the importance of choosing words carefully. While being interviewed Sunday, Akin told the reporter,
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare” (in reference to pregnancy caused by rape.) “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”
A media firestorm ensued. The Left hammered Akin for his ‘legitimate rape’ theory, once again accusing Republicans of waging a war on women; the Right urged Akin to withdraw from the campaign, distancing themselves from “misspoken” and callous words. Even though Akin apologized for choosing careless verbiage, the damage was done. With just a little more than 2 months left before the November elections, this “gaffe” appears to be a possible death knell for the Conservative candidate facing off against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Humorist Josh Billings once said,
“There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.”
I admire Todd Akin’s advocacy for pro-life issues. In fact, I voted for Mr. Akin in the primary. However, sometimes we all need to recognize when we’ve hit the end of the road. With little funding and dwindling support, Mr. Akin needs to step aside and support a candidate capable of defeating Ms. McCaskill. Yes, I believe in grace and second chances, but many voters refuse to live by the saying, “forgive and forget” when behind the voting booth curtain.
Back in college, I signed up for a New Testament class taught by one of the most respected and feared professors on the campus. Seasoned Bible students warned newbies about his tests and often repeated a phrase the good Doctor uttered from his podium, “You’ve received all the grace you’re going to receive at the cross.” This phrase applied to late homework assignments and a refusal to grade tests on the curve. It appears Mr. Akin has received all the “grace he’s going to receive at the cross.” That’s plenty of grace to cover his sins and all of ours as well. However, with any misstep, consequences loom.
In an interview on Fox News, Sarah Palin quoted a song made famous by country western legend Kenny Rogers in regards to the plight of Congressman Akins. She said,
“You gotta know when to hold’em, know when to fold-em, know when to walk away….” (The Gambler)
It appears to be time to “fold-em” and “walk away” as that Senate Seat means much to the United States of America. If Akin stays the course, and no third party candidate joins the race, I’ll still vote for Akin. He espouses many of the conservative values I also embrace, but he obviously needs to exercise forethought when answering the tough questions. Maybe he could borrow the President’s teleprompter….
Definitely, words matter.