I’m now blogging about chapter twenty-five of my book. When I was a kid, I hear parents threaten to wash out the mouths of my buddies with soap all the time. Now that I’m an adult, I hear Christians quote James 3 all the time. In this case, it’s the religious version of “wash out your mouth with soap” or with God’s word. Is this really what the text mean?
In letter writing, usually a paragraph is an exposition of a major idea much like modern expositional writing. Quite often, the main idea is at the head of the paragraph with the main clause. The idea is not obscurely buried within the long paragraphs somewhere. In modern Bible studies, we often forget this principle and get ourselves quickly into a muddle by claiming supporting ideas to be the main idea. It seems that James 3.1 is the main idea that addressed an ancient problem in the synagogue. If that were so, then what would be the modern application?
By stating the above, I’m not suggesting that we all go out and start cussing like a drunken sailor, but surely, James 3 is not the place to cite verses to prevent abusive language.
As I always say, the texts are not at fault. The interpreter is!