It has been my experience in preaching, that people will occasionally start snickering, chortling and guffawing in the midst of a perfectly good statement. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does I usually ignore it the first time. Especially if it’s just one or two people… I figure it had nothing to do with me.

There’s always a Beavis and Butthead in any audience who listen attentively and when a word with double meaning is spoken, they snicker, guffaw and nudge their friends.

I know this because Beavis and Butthead come to me afterwards and tell me what I said. “Haha! LOL. You said _______.”

I also know this because I’ve been sitting in audiences and giggled when a speaker uses a word that has come to mean something entirely different. I also have been Beavis and Butthead.

If the whole room erupts when I wasn’t trying to be funny, I begin to wonder if it’s something I said. Inevitably, loving audiences will always have a volunteer who comes up afterward to explain what it was that they were laughing at.

And then I realize how easily a good train of thought can be derailed.

We must constantly be aware of how words can change meaning. Slang will take perfectly noble, defining words and turn them into something opposite, derogatory or misleading.

There is something reckless and coarse at work in many of us.

For example, ‘Holy’ is a word that is used in reference to God’s character. Holiness is a divine attribute that describes the otherness, separateness and special sacredness of God. If something is set aside for God’s purposes it is called holy.

So how do we get holy cow or holy crap as an expletive? We take a perfectly good adjective and use it in an entirely inappropriate way.

So, with an awareness of my audience, I am now prepared to talk about ‘duty’. (Haha! He said duty!)

Have you done your duty? (snicker)

What are you doing? I am doing my duty… (haha)

Another beautiful word has found itself decimated on the slang chopping block. A noble, efficient word that speaks of one’s deepest heartfelt obligations has become the thing that babies do in diapers.

It’s good to laugh. There is a time to laugh. There is a time for joking and a time for listening calmly. On that note, can we have a serious look at what duty is?

I think we need to do the work in our minds to reclaim words that may give us a knee jerk reaction. Submission… Authority... Obedience... Discipline… Honour… Judgment… Duty…