As it is with birds, so it is with words. Words of a feather seem to flow together.

Being obedient by using clean speech brings blessings including clean thoughts and behavior.As a young man, I managed a gas station and garage. The men I managed were much older than I, and in order to gain their respect, I thought I needed to "walk their walk and talk their talk." Their language, to say the least, was quite colorful. I fooled myself, thinking I would only use this type of language on the job. I discovered quickly that newly acquired words were flowing without discretion. At any irritation my mouth and gestures reacted without reservation.

One day, after a string of worldly choices sputtered from my flapping, car-window-framed lips, my girl-friend passenger said with unphased calmness, "Do that again and I'll hit you in that eruptible volcano of vulgarness."

I laughed until round two, when, returning my wind-blown lips from outside the driver-side-window, I met first hand (pun intended!) a fist of righteous judgment.

Stunned, I made a wiser choice to never feel the consequence of unrighteous superlatives again. I found that as my words changed, so followed my behaviors, and eventually, my thoughts.

King Benjamin taught his people and us "to watch yourselves, and your words, and your thoughts." (Mosiah 4:30.)

Quoting a message to the youth from the First Presidency in 1887, President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, said in the October 1987 general conference: "The habit . . . which young people fall into, of using vulgarity and profanity . . . is not only offensive to well-bred persons, but it is a gross sin in the sight of God, and should not exist among the children of the Latter-day Saints."

As a young seminary teacher, unnoticed, I observed during one of their practices some of the young student athletes I taught. The next day, as my students entered the classroom, the chalkboard had written upon it the words of some of the practice-field kind, as well as the words of the sacrament prayer and other sacred utterances and names. With some embarrassment, we turned to the words of James: "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." (James 3:10.) The choices we make with our mouths are not determined by the setting in which we find ourselves, but by the thoughts we create within and by the type of people we are striving to become.

Choices of clean language indicate love and respect for purity and godliness. In the April 1978 general conference, President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Language is like music; we rejoice in beauty, range, and quality in both, and we are demeaned by the repetition of a few sour notes."