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Foul-mouthed birds removed from wildlife park: Connecting our everyday words with our faith

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Five red-and-yellow parrots are perched on a tree limb
Adobe Stock

When a wildlife park in Lincolnshire, England, adopted five new parrots in August, few expected the birds to become the center of controversy. As Kate Ng writes for The Independent, however, it didn’t take long before they began causing some rather colorful problems. 

Shortly after arriving, the birds “taught each other obscenities while quarantined together in the same room.” Steve Nichols, the park’s chief executive, explains that “the more they swear the more you usually laugh which then triggers them to swear again.” 

The birds eventually picked up on the laughter as well, to the point that, when one of the birds would curse, the others would laugh and then repeat the process. 

The workers found it amusing, but “within 20 minutes of being in the introductory we were told that they had sworn at a customer and for the next group of people, all sorts of obscenities came out.” While the customers mostly found the display amusing as well, the park decided it would be better to remove them. 

The parrots now live in an “off-shore enclosure” with roughly 1,500 other parrots, though the five have been separated to hopefully mitigate further spread of their swearing. 

Choosing our words carefully

Scripture warns that “the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:5). Every parent can attest to the reality of that situation. 

I have two small kids, and both reached an age sooner than I expected when I could count on hearing my own occasional verbal miscues coming back at me via the otherwise innocent sound of a child’s voice.

Those have not been my proudest moments as a father, but they have served as a strong reminder of why it’s so important that we choose our words carefully when speaking to or around others. 

While we’re not all surrounded by impressionable young children, the manner in which we talk will be used by those of all ages to assess our character, personality, and a host of other qualities. 

In short, people judge us by what we say, and they will notice if we curse or demean others in one breath and then try to tell them about the gospel in the next. If there’s a disconnect between our everyday words and our faith, then it will undermine our ability to share God’s love and truth with others. 

That’s not to say that cursing is the unpardonable sin or that we’re never allowed to mess up, but we must never underestimate the degree to which our witness can be diminished by a careless word or statement. 

So stay vigilant and ask the Holy Spirit to help you choose your words well in all situations while remaining humble enough to admit the times when we make a mistake. That remains the best way to tame our tongues and prevent sinful statements from painting an unworthy picture of what it means to follow Christ.

What will your words say about you today?

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