The Power of the Tongue

The tongue is a fire © Kim Carlson |

A few days ago, my bride used a part of my More on deserving post in a post she did on her blog. She got some push-back from several women over the word “bitchy” used in my post. When I used the word, I did think about it. While it’s not a word I commonly use, I don’t consider it swearing (some will disagree, that’s fine). I used it here, for a male audience, because we all know exactly what it means. We have all deal with women are that way from time to time, and most of us have deal with women who are most of the time.

That said, I’m not here to defend my choice of words; I want to talk about the harm we can do with our words. The same day my bride ran her post, my Bible reading included the following:

If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it! A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue – it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!” [James 3:2b-10 The Message]

Being bitchy is certainly one way we can hurt others with our words, but what about more masculine ways of hurting with words?

  • Sarcasm: Some men can hardly open their mouth without sarcasm escaping their lips. I don’t think sarcasm is wrong, but I have noticed women as a whole seem to dislike it far more often and far more strongly than men. If sarcasm bothers your bride, spare her.
  • Sharing private things: Just because you are okay with sharing something private about her or the two of you does not mean she is okay with it. Aside from hurting her, it violates trust.
  • Mean jokes and poking fun: She is not one of the guys, and she does not want to be insulted and picked on the way you and your buddies do.
  • Ordering or commanding: Demanding she do something rather than asking is a bad plan. She is not your servant, and treating her as such is not going to result in a good marriage (or sex life!).
  • Shutting her up: Most women can out talk most men because they “have more words”. Some men “defend” against this by arguing or yelling till she gives up. This might be a good plan in some situations, but it’s a very bad way to treat one’s wife.
  • Offensive words: Most of us have words that set us off for some reason. Some are words we consider profane, but some words are a problem because they have been used to hurt or tease in the past. Be it the word, or the connection from the past, using a words that upset or offend your bride is wrong. (Note added this due to discussion below, a valid category I missed.)

All of these things are annoying (or worse) to her – as much so as bitchiness is to you. Don’t do unto her as you hate her doing unto you.

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Image Credit: © Kim Carlson |

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Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:


Battle for a Great Marriage

Spend Time With Your Wife: It’s scary such an article is necessary, but it is.

Black and Married with Kids

7 Things Your Spouse Needs To Hear (More Often) : True this.

Divorce Busting Blog

Emotional Affairs and Infidelity: It starts out innocent, and moves step by step to sin and destruction.

The Generous Wife

The Gift of Bragging : My wonderful, intelligent, beautiful bride gracefully throws done a very pretty gauntlet.
Deserving the Best: The post in which my wife quotes me using the “b” word.
I am NOT a Female Dog: My bride’s response to comments on the post above.
Today is Ladybug Day! : Ignore the girly title, this is a great post!

Happily Married After

The ABC’s of Kicking Porn to the Curb : A great guest post from Stu Gray of
Your Sex Life is Funny… So Laugh : Spot on advice.
The Taste Below The Waist : The taste, and how to change it.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

Where to Have Sex: Part 1: The bad plan half of the list.

Journey to Surrender

Own Your Own Happiness: Some good thoughts on a subject I’ve been working on (posts in the future).

My Beloved Is Mine

As Christ Loved The Church : An excellent post on the love requirement of headship.

Mystery 32

Stupendous Marriage Show 041: Commitment To Your Marriage : Note it’s not show 41, it’s show 041. Love the confidence!

6 Comments on “The Power of the Tongue

  1. I couldn’t help but detect a bit of arrogant & proud undertones in this particular article. You’ve acknowledged from the beginning that your wife had several negative comments regarding the word “b*tchy.” Therefore, you are at least mildly aware that the term is offensive to some of your audience.

    “While it’s not a word I commonly use, I don’t consider it swearing (some will disagree, that’s fine). ”

    Interpreted means, “I don’t use it often (but will use it in this article on purpose to prove a point), and because *I* don’t ‘consider it swearing, then it must not be so, because I have some special knowledge that others do not have.”

    My husband can be harsh with his words, but has NEVER used this word in my presence (possibly not at all but I wouldn’t know), so I know it is possible to express ideas without it. Why use a word when you already KNOW some find it offensive? (and possibly more – the ones who complained probably aren’t the ONLY ones who didn’t like it)? The only reason one would *continue* to use it is out of arrogance and/or pride.

    • Wife – If there was any arrogance or pride I pray the Lord will show me that.

      I said “some will disagree, that’s fine” because I don’t feel I am the final arbitrator of such things. I do what I think is right, and I know that no matter what I do, someone will be unhappy with it. I sometimes get emails about a post with some thinking I went too far and others thinking I did not go far enough – ON THE SAME POST!

      As to other words, I honestly can’t think of a single word that means the same thing – and my vocabulary is fairly good. Synonyms at are:

      bad [slang], hateful, catty, cruel, despiteful, malevolent, malicious, malign, malignant, mean, nasty, spiteful, vicious, virulent

      Honestly none of those gives the same idea. I suppose a half a dozen of them together would, but not as well as the one word. I “continue” to use the word (this was the third time in three years) because it expresses what I mean better than any other word. If I avoided everything that will offend anyone, I would have to stop blogging.

      • My husband, as harsh & cruel as he can be verbally at times, is able to AT LEAST (at a very minimum), describe his displeasure w/ my speech/attitude/actions without using that word. If my husband (who teeters on verbally abusive at times), can do that, then it is certainly possible for a Christian blogger to describe that type of speech/attitude/actions without using that word. I realize if you avoided *everything* that offended everyone you would have to stop blogging, but clearly this has offended many. Your wife had to dedicate an entire blog on the backlash of your use of that word, and you have had to do the same. Even if you believe the word is okay to use in your own home, isn’t it not obvious that *maybe* it is not after all appropriate to use in blogs which purpose to encourage Christian marriages? A budding, young, new Christian husband reads your blog because he wants to be the best husband in the world he can be. And any husband who has that goal would read your blog because that is its purpose, right? He reads your blog, which uses that word to describe his wife’s behavior, and because YOU (the example) used it, he starts using it too. Maybe that won’t go over so well in his home as it has in yours? How has that blessed his marriage?

        The Bible has successfully described such a woman (in various versions), without using the word b*tchy. Perhaps you could use one of those words: contentious, quarrelsome, complaining, nagging, etc.

        • Wife – Given your very strong reaction to the word, you husband is wise to avoid it.

          I did not devote a post to defending my word choice, the post above letting men know about the ways their words can hurt their wife. Using words she finds inappropriate would be another category, provided her list is reasonable and not so large he needs to write it down.

          Beyond that we will have to agree to disagree. I believe my choice of words did more good than harm, and that is the bottom line.


  2. I can be sensitive around this word, my father used to use it all the time. But I didn’t really find this post offensive or felt under attack, I knew you were trying to make a point Paul, thank u fr the points you’ve shared.

  3. I think the bottom line is that we have different ideas of what is OK and not where language is concerned. My husband crossed the line for you, and I’m sorry that you found it so offensive, but I hope you were able to hear the message behind the posts.

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