Recently, I sent one of my stories to a beta reader.
She pointed out that my character cussed at the beginning of the story, and then just...stopped. No event precipitated this action. No one complained or corrected her in the story. The character just stopped.
This one comment caused me to pause. I'm pretty sure my character cussed only three times in the entire book. All biblical - i.e. words you can find in the Bible. However, because I am LDS, and my beta reader was LDS, this was something she was acutely sensitive to.
Then I got to wondering about what kind of message I want to convey to my readers. I know swearing probably won't even register on most readers' radars. And that's fine. But as a writer, I fully expect that my status in the LDS church will be known.
And if I want to be published, I also expect to be telling everyone and their dog that I've written something worth reading. Am I okay with letting my kids read my book, knowing there's swearing in it? How about my Relief Society President, or my Bishop? My niece? Other impressionable teens? Am I okay with letting my protagonist's language be an example to her readers, or am I choosing to model current language standards?
My answer may not be the same as yours. And that's okay. No two books should ever be alike. I guess because I am LDS, and because language and morality is integral to my belief system, this particular subject, struck a chord with me. It was a reminder to be aware of who I am and what I want to stand for. Because people will be watching, and hopefully one day reading, what I have to say.