FHE Lesson on Profanity
Activity: Get two paper sacks...on one, it has a big picture of a garbage can
glued to the sack and at the top of the opening of the sack it says: "Words I'll
throw away". (You could do it different and have the top of the garbage can cut
open for them to put in.) The other sack has a picture of a smiling child glued
to the sack, and at the top it says "Words I'll keep". (You could do it
differently here too and have the smiling child's mouth cut open and they can
slide the words in his mouth.) In an envelope, you'll have strips of paper,
where you the parent will write all the various words, phrases or whatever that
your children are having trouble with and words that are okay...for example, 'poo-poo
head', 'thank you', 'sweetie', 'aw man', 'dummy', etc.
Anyway, you hold up these two things and tell your family that you want them to
throw away any vulgar words they may be inclined to use. And of course there are
words that they can keep too. Have family members take turns drawing a word or
situation and decide if it is a good word to keep or a garbage can word.
Songs: More Holiness Give Me, Do What is Right, Choose the Right
Scripture Reference: Exodus 20:7
Discussion - Gospel Truth: Profanity is the disrespectful use of the names of
Deity, or the use of offensive or indecent language. Profanity separates us from
our Heavenly Father while clean, reverent language brings us closer to him.
*This lesson is divided into two lessons - you can combine them if desired,
according to your children's attention span.*
Lesson 1: Proper Use of the Lord's Name
Lesson 2: Eliminating profanity and choosing good language
This lesson is from the FHE resource book. Show your family a dictionary. Talk
about all the good words that are available to use when we speak. Point out that
even though we have so many good words to select from, we sometimes choose words
which are not good - words which have vulgar and impure meanings. Using these
kinds of words is called swearing.
Scripture: Read what Jesus said about swearing in the first part of Matthew
5:34. Then read and discuss Matthew 15:18 where Jesus explained why we should
not use vulgar language.
Story: Tell this story about a garbage can....Mother was sweeping up the things
that were lying on the back porch. Warren was watching her closely. Finally
everything was in a nice big pile. Mother said, "Let's put everything this all
in the garbage can."
Warren said, "No, mama, don't put it in the garbage can."
Mother asked, "Why not?"
Warren said, "Because some of it is good."
Mother asked, "What is good?"
"The truck and the stocking," Warren replied.
Mother smiled and asked Warren to get these things and take them into the house.
He did this and came back. "Now", said mother, "Let's put the rest in the
After the work was done, as Warren's mother pushed him in the swing she said,
"We put things that aren't useful in the garbage can, don't we?"
"Yes," Warren said.
"What if the words we use could be put in a pile, and we could pick them up one
at a time and look at them. Would we want to keep some of them and throw others
in the garbage can?"
Warren didn't answer. He didn't understand. "Well, if we heard some words like
****, **** and **** (use words you have heard your children say, choosing both
good and bad ones), would it be better to keep such words or put them in the
garbage can, never to be used again?" (As you say a word ask whether or not it
should be in the garbage can.)
Story: Spencer W. Kimball was put under total anesthesia and operated on, then
wheeled on a table back toward his room. Still drugged, Spencer sensed his stop
by an elevator and heard the orderly, angry at something, profaning the Lord's
name. Half-conscious, he pleaded with labored sounds: "Please don't say that. I
love Him more than anything in this world. Please." An absolute silence. Then
the orderly answered softly: "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry."
Again, the scripture: Exodus 20:7...What does it mean to take the Lord's name in
Discussion: To help answer this question, read and discuss Doctrine and
Covenants 63:60-64. Be sure your family members understand that we only use the
names of Deity in a worshipful, respectful way.
Story: Relate and discuss the following story by Elder A. Theodore Tuttle: "When
I was growing up in our town my friend and I use to hear lots of boys swearing
and taking the name of this Lord in vain. This offended us. Our parents taught
us not to swear. We knew that we should not take the name of the Lord in vain.
One day we were talking about this, my friend and I promised each other - we
made a covenant - that we would never take the name of the Lord in vain. During
the intervening years, each of us keep the vow that we had made. A few years
later,....I moved away from our home town to a farm in another valley. It was
there that I met head on with trouble. We were hauling hay one hot summer day
and my father sent me down to the well with a gallon jug to bring some cool
water. After filling the jug I put my finger through the handle, threw the jug
over the back of the horse, and tried to jump on its back. But before I could
get completely on the horse, he wheeled around and started off on a trot back to
the hayrack, jogging me on his back. There I was, half on and half off, bouncing
along on the bony withers of that horse. My finger was so twisted it was about
to break with the weight of that jug of water. It tried to jerk on the reins to
stop the horse with the other hand, but he would not stop. With everything going
all wrong I got so angry and swore at the horse and took the name of the Lord in
vain. At the very moment that I did this, I realized what I had done. A great
wave of guilt swept over me because I had broken my covenant with my friend. But
worse, I know I had offended the Lord, and I had failed to be true to the
standard that I knew. As I finally managed to fall off the horse, I kneeled
immediately - right there in the stubble of the field - and asked the Lord to
forgive me. I vowed again, this time with repentant fervor, that I would never
again break the pledge which my friend and I had made about swearing."
Remind your family that as they learn to love Heavenly Father and Jesus in the
way that President Kimball and Elder Tuttle did, they will not be tempted to use
the names of Deity in a disrespectful way.
Discussion: Decide on some ways in which your family members can improve the
language they use and ways in which they can lovingly encourage others to
eliminate profanity, for example:
1. Promise to repent immediately of profanity. If anyone forgets and uses
profanity, he will apologize immediately to anyone who heard him and ask the
Lord's forgiveness and help in overcoming the problem.
2. Decide that offensive or obscene words will be considered 'garbage can'
words. Post a picture of a garbage can in your house to remind family members
that they must mentally dispose of such words.
3. Make it practice to refuse to listen to or laugh at dirty stories. Forget the
stories, and do not repeat them to others.
4. If a family member is having a serious problem with profanity, have him fast,
pray, and when appropriate, ask for a priesthood blessing to help make his
language pure and acceptable to the Lord.
5. Little children sometimes use bad words without knowing their meaning. When
this occurs, the parent or older sibling who hears the words would kindly
explain to the child that we do not use those words in our family.
Conclusion: Encourage your family always to use good, wholesome language and to
avoid situations in which they are exposed to profanity.