Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cussing. Swearing. And Dirty Words. (Honest August)

So, it’s Honest August.

And I wanted to take these 5 Sundays to talk about tough issues.

But I wanted to take it slow. So we are starting out with an easy one: our language.

Mostly I write about my experiences, opinions, and perspectives.

Not this week. 

This week I ask you to speak. What's your opinion?

As you have probably recognized, I like to talk about shifts in thought in the Christian community. And one of the shifts that I have recognized is about our language. More and more Christians use language that, just a few years ago, was endowed unspeakable. I think so because of:

1. The Bible doesn't say anything against it. Not specifically, anyway. Ephesians 4:29 and James 3:5-6 speak against destructive language, but they don't give a list. Which brings me to number 2.

2. There isn't a set list. The list would change from liberal to conservative interpretations. "This word isn't that bad. But that one is a doozy."

3. If there was a list, it'd be cultural. Both chronologically and geographically. Meanings of words change over time and vulgarity is culturally bound. True story: one culture in Scotland finds 'crap' as offensive as our vulgar counterpart s***. But they say s*** as everyday as our 'crap'.

4. In general, Christians are getting tired of being told what they can and cannot do. First, dancing. Then, movies. Later, tattoos, drinking, and cussing. For better or for worse, there is a laundry list of do's and don't's that people are tired of following. Is that pride? Or freedom? I'm not sure.

While we're on the subject, two distinct examples come to mind. Both from pastors taking place during their sermons:

“I don’t want people to think God is full of s***!”

Did the pastor really say that? I couldn't believe it. I was flabbergasted. I’ve heard swearing. I’ve heard pastors swear. But had never heard that word fly from a pulpit.

Was he right? Well, truth be told, I agree with him. I don’t want people to think that about God either. 

Was he wrong? Being that there is reverence found in sermons, sanctity in a pulpit, are there some four letter words that are forbidden from a church stage? I don't have that answer. 

Later, I heard this one.

"While you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Most of you don't give a s***. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said s*** than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night." -Tony Campolo

How would I have reacted if I heard that in person?

“He said s***! But 30,000 people died last night. Does that justify him saying s*** on stage? Why do I care so much about him saying s*** if 30,000 people died last night? I can’t believe he said s***!”

An endless cycle. Funny. Sad. True.

I have a lot of questions. Few answers.

Your turn. And let's be honest.


Do you swear? Why? Why not?
Are these two spiritual leaders justified? 
Why are these words considered vulgar? 
When is swearing right? Is it ever right? 
When is it wrong?