I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, in the room so many can only dream of setting foot in. Within these walls had stood great men of the past who had shaped and molded our nation into what it is today. And I happened to join the ranks of the lucky few who stood in the chambers of the President of the United States. I was there with a small group of citizen writers, from all different backgrounds. We all were dressed professionally, pens and paper in hand, ready to meet the commander-in-chief.
The doors opened and two secret service agents entered, joining the other four already in the room. Behind them walked the President of the United States of America. I still could not believe where I was. I didn’t even care that this man was a democrat. It was incredible.
Soon, the conference began. The very first question stunned each and every one of us.
“What the *** were you thinking when you told the ******* ambassador that you were willing to open talks with that **** country?!? What are you? A ****** idiot?”
Then the daydream, or rather, nightmare, ended. How could anyone do something like that? How could anyone, whether in agreement or not, use foul language to address the president of the United States? It just isn’t feasible unless the person is extremely rude. Yet in today’s society, we find profanity and cursing everywhere. All of us hear it on the street corner, at our jobs, or in the mall. Cursing has become a part of the normal Americans vocabulary, even when they are not expressing anger.
Incredibly, this also applies to many Christians who still believe that profanity is a normal part of our language. These Christians also believe that those of us who believe profanity is wrong are “legalists.” I maintain the position that we certainly are not.
About two years ago I penned a post on profanity that stirred up a small controversy among a few bloggers and readers. I wasn’t fully prepared to defend my position with stunning words and arguments, yet even then I did a very good job defending my point clearly, at least on my own blog. The situation was this: I had stumbled upon a homeschooling mom’s blog, and found that she was a Christian who was promoting the use of profanity, and claiming that Scripture supports it. Initially, I was appalled, and left a comment asking her if she could “refrain from cussing.” Her response was simple and to the point: “Are you a legalist?” I guess at the time that was something I had been afraid of being called, so I decided to restate my stand on the issue.
“When I hear someone cuss,” I told her, “I do not think that person is being like Christ.” Yet I continued to say that I wasn’t going to be the “one to cast the first stone” and that I didn’t comment to say that “you’re not a Christian because you cuss!” All true, except when I read back over my comment, it appeared that I had said “I don’t care that you’re cussing, but my little personal opinion is that you stop.” Ultimately, on my blog, I stated that I didn’t believe that God wants Christians to blatantly promote profanity.
“And that’s not my opinion,” I boldly and truthfully announced. “It’s God’s Word.”
With hundreds of thousands of commands in the Bible, said this blogger, people were still “all over” her “***” from things that she claimed weren’t even commanded in the Bible. Perhaps she needed to reread a few passages in God’s Word.
“But now,” says Collossians 3:8 (Amplified Bible), “put away and rid yourself [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterance from your lips.”
The Message “translation” speaks of ridding yourself of “profanity, dirty talk.”
Concerning these verses (and the many, many others in the Bible: see bottom of post), it remains obvious to me, through God’s Word, that we are not to hold on to our earthly nature, but are to be people of clean lips. Sadly, this mother not only curses herself, but also teaches her children to swear as well.
“My daughter doesn’t blush or gasp when daddy says “Isaac’s kickin’ your ***.” Her support, and many others support for this, is that some words found in the Bible are not Holy, so why can’t we use them? The answer to that is quite simple: their purpose is first of all not to express disgust. That is not their meaning. Secondly, in the context of their culture those words were not considered profanity. That is important to understand while dealing with the issue of language. Our language considers certain words to be “cussing” and obscene talk. Ultimately, they are not supposed to be your normal speech.
“In a world that has devised perverse usages of language to communicate sinful anger,” says one website
dealing with this issue, “I think the Christian should avoid it. Further, as commonplace as cussing is in today’s uneducated and lazy society, the Christian should do his best to ‘rise above’ and not ‘conform to.’ ”
This mindset is one that must characterize each and every believer, especially the young believers of this world who are among this apathetic generation that has turned curse words into commonplace “spice.” Oddly enough, this idea of “spice” is being used as an argument for cursing by this blogger and many others like her who want to “add spice” to their “message.” I believe this could be a clear sign of an apathetic walk with God.
What is vile to one person is not vile to another one, said this blogger. It’s just “colorful.” Verses that point to the evils of “unwholesome talk” just speak about our “message” which is “what is helpful to the edification of others.” I realized that what is needed to win this argument is most likely a postmodern world-view, which denies the existence of pure, objective truth that can be obtained and described. You believe what you want to believe in your reality, I’ll believe what I want to believe in my reality. What lies at the end of that path or below that line is what Francis Schaeffer calls “the line of despair.” All that lies at the end is destruction and despair — and my heart goes out to those full of that despair. One holds the truth — and I would contend that the Bible is what holds The Truth. And that is why we must turn to the Bible, the truth, when understanding these issues.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace,” says Paul in Collosians 4:6, “seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Not “colorful,” but rather “seasoned with salt.”
Sorry, says the blogger, but I think I’m going to laugh at you because this whole **** thing is ridiculous. I rather think it is of the utmost importance. Words mean so much more than empty letters formed into sounds coming from our mouths. Profanity is wrong. I will take a strong stand on this. You can call me a “legalist.” You can cuss me out. Yet I will, and shall, stand by the Word of God and not by what I feel like doing or by what I want to do. There is no reason for profanity today, tomorrow, or in the future.
Note: I didn’t want to write a book and post in on the website so I decided to keep this post short. Still, some may wonder about making a point using profanity. A good many church leaders have done this, whether it be Mark Driscoll or more recently John Piper. Some wonderful resources in further investigating include the recent exchange between John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Wayne Grudem had a wonderful response to any who promote the use of profanity as a believer. Tim Challies included another wonderful article as well. I highly recommend that you read those articles.
From Wayne Grudem:
Speaking of these things and using different words for them is not contrary to any biblical command (and so it is different from taking the Lord’s name in vain, which is explicitly forbidden), but we are also commanded to maintain a reputation for cleanliness:
ESV Titus 2:10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
ESV Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
ESV Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
ESV Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
…Using the words commonly thought to be offensive in the culture seems to me to be sort of the verbal equivalent of not wearing deodorant and having body odor, or of going around with spilled food on our shirts all the time. Someone might argue that not wearing deodorant or wearing dirty clothes are not morally wrong things in themselves, but my response is that they do give needless offense and cause others to think of us as somewhat impure or unclean. So, I think, does using words commonly thought to be ‘obscene’ or ‘offensive’ or ‘vulgar’ in the culture generally. Plus it encourages others to act in the same way. So in that way it brings reproach on the church and the gospel.”