So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. -- James 3:5-6
I'm sure Sue Simmons knows a lot about that today. The WNBC anchor may well lose her job due to an inadvertent incident of on-air cursing. While it certainly wouldn't be unfair to can Ms. Simmons for the slip-up, it would be far from gracious. And can't we all use a few heaping helpings of grace, particularly when it comes to our speech? After all, anyone who never fails in his speech to speak graciously is a perfect person. Too bad no one can tame the tongue, although certainly we are called to bridle and restrain it (James 3:2,8).
While I do think Simmons should be willing to accept some form of discipline, it seems to me firing the long-time anchor over this would be merciless. Would it be fair or just according to her contract of employment? I'm no lawyer, but most likely yes.
But gracious and merciful? Far from it.
But what about the children, some will ask. They must be shown that this language is unacceptable.
To that I'd argue that extending mercy and teaching children the value of forgiveness and reconciliation far surpass that of satisfying our self-righteous wrath over one F-word said carelessly on the airwaves. Yes, I do mean self-righteous.
Are we angry because Simmons offended OUR moral standards, or because she offended a holy God who calls sinners to repentance?
If it's the latter, then how much more should we be humbled by how great a debt of sin God has forgiven us for Christ's sake, and so then extend mercy and prayers for Ms. Simmons (Eph. 4:32). If it's the former, well, James tells us that "the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (1:20)
For the Christian parent the Sue Simmons incident serves as a wonderful object lesson on extending mercy and forgiveness, and praying for those caught in sin.
How much better a witness is it for children to hear their parents explain that Simmons' cursing exposes a sickness of the heart that only Jesus can heal? Yes, you add, that doesn't mean she isn't responsible for what she said, but regardless, who are we to judge harshly when we too are sinners who have received grace and mercy we never deserved in the first place?