Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Should we give a F@#K about swearing?

As a disclaimer... 
I do it.
In fact, I've done it on this blog.
In order to make a point I might slip in a considered "salty" word.

One reason I write this blog is to get my thoughts ordered when it comes to issues surrounding church, faith and ministry, especially with young people.

A while ago someone asked me about swearing and why Christians shouldn't do it.

In response I said (while fluffing my way through some of the points bellow)... umm... because... they... umm... just shouldn't.

But, the query deserves a far better answer.

To begin, I'm not talking about blasphemy. That fact that it's mentioned as one of the ten commandments and the first line of the Lord's Prayer give a clear indication that God takes His name seriously and it shouldn't be used in a meaningless, careless or mocking manner.

Personally, I think the strongest augment against frivolous swearing is that our words matter and we will be accountable for them (Matthew 12:36-37).

Our words matter since within them are the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). We have the ability, with the words we speak, to build someone up or tear them down.

James 3 says that we shouldn't curse another made, as we are, in the image of their Creator and, importantly, the word which flow from out tongues should be a reflection of our faith and character.

This aligns with Jesus' teachings that the mouth will reveal what is within the heart (Luke 6:45). Instead, our words should reflect our new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) being a barometer of what is within.

When it comes to swearing, what matters is the intention behind the words (this would also apply to saying "gosh-darn-it" or some other "censored substitute"). If they are directed harmfully towards someone else then they are clearly wrong. If the swear words someone uses adds nothing to the conversation then they are, at best lazy, devaluing our contribution to the world around us.

Importantly, Titus 2:7-8 reminds believers that the words they use will affect their witness to those around them.

But, some days, can and, arguably, should be called shit.
This is the exact word someone might be searching for in order to describe their day.

And here the issue, to a degree, becomes one of conscience.

Does your conscience permit you to use that word?
What is the internal intention behind the word?
Are you using it to build up and add something of genuine value?

Does your conscience feel comfortable using that word in the presence of those around you?
Will the hearing of that word cause a negative example, harm others or impair your Christian witness?

If the last question is answered affirmatively, then any freedom you might have to swear should be restricted in light of those around you.

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