Friday, August 15, 2008

What the eff?

What do you think about Christians that swear? Is it ok for Christians to swear or is cussing a sin?

Time Magazine's "Best Theologian" of 2001, Stanley Hauerwas, is well know for his foul mouth.

On the other extreme is a person who claims that when one uses words such as 'heck' and 'shoot' that it "shows disrespect toward God"

I have found myself using more 'colorful' language of late. I'm not trying to justify what I'm doing, but to really explore my actions.

I remember feeling guilty about swearing when I was younger and working hard to break the habit. I also felt that Baptists were going to hell for believing in Calvinism. As I have matured I no longer condemn my Baptist brothers and sisters. Was my opinion of language also childish?

I think this text has some bearing on the issue: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Eph. 4.29) But does "unwholesome talk" encompass the words that we consider 'bad' or is it the content of our speech?

Are we becoming of the world by cussing, or are we living in the world as the incarnation of God through the Spirit when we speak to people in their own language? Do we bear a better witness when we watch or language, or do we connect with people better when they feel comfortable to speak freely around us?


Anonymous said...

I've had the same conversation with myself. Except for the bad feelings about Baptists ;-) Remember, we don't all believe in Calvinism!

If you happen to find the answer somewhere, please let me know :-).

rich jandt said...

I also had a hard time breaking myself of cussing in high school. In college it was easy not to cuss because my friends did not cuss.

Being away from a non-swearing community has resurged my cussingness.

Words only have the meaning that the community assigns them. For instance, gay used to mean happy, then it meant homosexual, now it means stupid. Stoned used to mean drunk, now it means high.

The verse James used does seem to point back to the impurity and lust mentioned in V 17-19. With that in mind I think that if language we use is unwholesome, about sexual things or just being mean to someone, we shouldn’t use it. That includes non cuss words also.

However, if you find a way to say the f-word and make a joke, go for it!

Sorry if I misspelled something Mike, as you can tell there are no spell checkers on this Blogspot thing.

Tim said...

I don't cuss because I think it makes people sound stupid.

rich jandt said...

My favorite swear in a movie is when the Enterprise was crashing into a planet and Data said the "s" word.

Jason said...

It seems like using "bad" words could be appropriate. But I'm guessing that most of the time "bad" words are used, they shouldn't be. That takes up probably 95% of the time.

It seems like people who never cuss could be doing it because they are so concerned with what other people think of them. I think the same goes for people who cuss all the time, too. Their concerned with what other people think of them. Do I sound judgmental? I'm just looking back on my own practices.

Another thing I'm expert in is using religious language inappropriately. I think taking the Lord's name in vain has more to do with talking as if you have God's blessing on everything you do, but really you're about serving yourself or some other god/idol. You can use a lot of "good" words, but use them inappropriately and in vain. I'm really good at doing this one. My conscience has been so seared that I usually only notice after I've subtly bragged on my righteousness, . . . It seems I am constantly repenting of this one. :-)

Good post, James!

James T Wood said...

I was beginning to wonder if this was too hot a topic for real conversation.

Thanks for responding all:

Lindsay, I know you waited until you grew up to have bad feelings about the Baptists ;)

Rich, I like your thoughts about the meaning of words being defined by a community. In some communities the f-bomb is just filler between other words (and, Tim, I think it makes them sound dumb) and as such it really has no meaning.

Tim, I think a limited vocabulary of any sort tends to make people sound stupid.

Jason/Nicole - good point! How often do we use "good" words in a bad way? Is it then possible for us to use "bad" words in a good way?

At the end of the day I just want to be authentic. I don't want to put up a facade with my speech that doesn't connect with my actions. I want to be a whole person who is the same at home and at work and at church and alone.