Should Christians ever intentionally drop F-bombs?

I had a buddy, Nathan Ziegler, Upper School Principal at Hope Academy, send me this article from the Wall Street Journal discussing swearing in the workplace. The question asked in the article is “Should bosses drop F-bombs?” It goes on to discuss rationale on both sides. Those FOR IT believe it demonstrates passion, commitment, and authenticity. It has the ability to motivate a team, dissolve tension, or win over an audience (perhaps, those who also swear?). Those AGAINST IT state that the foul-mouthed appear unprofessional, out of control, and short on emotional intelligence.

Preparing yourself to return to work on Monday morning

Perhaps, the greatest notoriety of cussing within the Christian community came when Tony Campolo, a Christian author, pastor, and evangelist, intentionally cussed while trying to make a point. He stated: “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, 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.”

There’s no doubt in my mind that many of you routinely face this in your workplaces and classrooms. What’s not clear to me is how each of you has decided to handle this. So, fill me (us) in.

 

QUESTIONS FOR COMMENTS:

  • What’s the atmosphere like where you spend most of your time? Is cussing permitted? Expected?
  • When others use profanity, do you choose a non-response as the best response? Have you ever confronted someone on it? How’d that go?
  • Should Christians swear at all, ever? Do you think there is a time and place for a well-placed cuss word, such as with Tony Campolo?
  • Does it make sense to you that a Christian would swear intentionally in order to better relate with a non-Christians? Why or why not?

RELATED POSTS:

If you liked the discussion here you might also like:

  1. I’d love my job if it weren’t for my boss.
  2. Taking the Michael Scott out of your leadership
  3. Leading from the Second Chair
  4. The Necessary Tension within Christian Leadership
  5. The Incorrigible Genius…The 6 Things I learned from Steve Jobs
Posted on by Cor in FAITH, LEADERSHIP

35 Responses to Should Christians ever intentionally drop F-bombs?

  1. Derek Hanisch

    When the clients are around at work, swearing is a no-go. It just doesn’t happen. However, when it’s just staff alone in the office, there is the occasional swearing.

    I can think back to the moment that I first knew my boss was awesome. She’s an older lady who keeps mostly to herself. There was an issue in our office where Admin was trying to make us do something that just wasn’t possible. She had been on the phone with Admin, and then walked out into the office. The first words out of her mouth were “F— Admin. They just don’t get it.”

    When you’ve never heard someone swear before, I think swearing can be powerful, and effective. My bosses words showed that she was on our side in this. The fact that she never swore made this more effective. Since then, I’ve heard her swear one other time. It just doesn’t happen.

    However, I think when one swears all the time it become unprofessional and annoying. I think context is key – a well placed swear word can show intense emotion, or commodore. However, if you swear all the time it becomes bland, and overused.

    I’m a Christian. I tend to swear on occasion – not often – but it happens. To me, it’s not a big deal. Here’s the Biblical principle I’d apply: If your actions cause others to sin, that action is not okay. So if my swearing tends others to think negative thoughts, or to do something that hurts their walk with Christ, then my actions are a sin. So crowd also matters.

    • Cor

      Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Derek.

      Has your occasional cussing ever come to offend others?

      • Derek Hanisch

        I’m sure there have probably been times. I guess I don’t ever really swear around people unless I have heard them swear first – or in times of great emotional stress.

        While I don’t mind some occasional swearing, I do think there are some things you should never say – mainly taking the Lord’s name in vain. Even to me, that is extremely offensive.

        While I wouldn’t call swearing inherently evil (for example, swear words in America may be acceptable in Germany), I would say that context, crowd matter, and intent matter.

        There is also a differnece between saying “F— cancer” (something I may have said once or twice) and “F— you!” When swearing is used in a personal attack I think it becomes inapropriate.

  2. Faith

    This happens to me at the workplace and mostly just there. For many reasons. Ha!

    It has offended others.

    It’s not who I want to be. I work in a place full of darkness. I’m around many who don’t know God. I am the light here. I know 100% that God is using me here. So I need to be the example. To have a positive attitude, and think Christ-like.

    Cor. You blogging on this just re-affirmed that I need to memorize James 3:9-11. God has been nudging me memorize it. It’s the way I’m going to fight my habit of swearing here.

  3. Joey

    I grew up in a VERY cuss-free environment. I don’t know when I started occasionally swearing, but it was sometime in the last few years when I started seeing language as an entire package, not compartmentalized into permissible and impermissible words. In other words, the context of my words and statements matter most.

    To answer your questions:

    A.) Cussing at work isn’t expected but is definitely permitted (executive management routinely swears in internal meetings)
    B.) I don’t respond to others’ profanity. I did as a kid because I thought the swearing (particularly “oh my god”) was sin and they needed to be called out. Again, my perspective has changed significantly.
    C.) I don’t think the question is should Christians swear, but is it permissible. I think it is. It’s not forbidden. Biblical teaching on use of language addresses the impact of our words more than the actual words used. The impact of individual words change so much over time that it’s impossible to definitively come up with a list of words that the Bible has banned. And yes, I think it’s very appropriate for a well-placed cuss word. I’m a huge fan of what Tony Campolo did.
    D.) No, swearing should not be done for the purpose of relating with a non-Christian. I don’t think our behavior should be adjusted to be “more wordly,” so to speak.

    Shortly after we learned that we would lose our daughter over halfway through the pregnancy, a staff member at church responded to the news when she saw us the next Sunday by saying, “I’m sorry, that’s really sh***y.” It’s one of the most well-placed uses of that word I’ve ever heard. I don’t know if another word would have described the situation any better and I definitely appreciated her willingness to avoid “churching it up.”

  4. Valerie

    I agree with Derek that context is key. The quote you gave is an excellent example of cussing that actually served a purpose. Swearing just to swear is inappropriate. To me it shows a lack of intelligence and creativity.
    I look at the meaning too. Sh** means basically the same as poop and crap. In itself is not necessarily offensive (but as Derek already mentioned, shoud be avoided so as not to cause others to stumble) but if call someone else a piece of sh**, that’s offensive. But words like f*** offends me because it takes a beautiful thing, love making, and sullies it. I never use it. Same with using God’s name in vain, and any word that is just offensive in and of itself. Nigger, Cunt, Pussy, etc. Overall, I avoid it except in extreme circumstances. As Derek’s example with his boss shows..not swearing means that when you do it shows how extreme the emotions you’re feeling at the moment are.

  5. Billy Sveen

    As said above, there is nothing inherently wrong with saying a word. It’s always the meaning, the context, and the intention. I remember when I came to this realization in middle school. I was in my room by myself. I wasn’t upset and no one could hear me, so I said the F word really loud. I reasoned that it wasn’t a sin. I think the person swearing needs to evaluate the situation. Have they lost control of their emotions? Is the use of language to hurt others? Is it to express one’s own hate, fear, depression, etc.? Are they offending others around them? If so, is it good for them to offend them?

    I think too often Christians become legalistic and are more concerned with the outward appearance than inner motives. How many church members don’t swear, but still struggle with anger and self control? The facade doesn’t take away the sin, and maybe the emphasis on not swearing perpetuates that problem.

    Furthermore, I think swearing can be powerful. I think Campolo’s use was definitely justified. As another example, I listen to metal music and understand that culture fairly well. A metal show is a mission field, plain and simple. There are tons of kids and young adults who don’t know Jesus. But they are also weary of outsiders. Just going in and telling them Jesus loves them probably won’t facilitate good conversations. But open a conversation with “F— religion!” and then proceed to tell them about the relationship you have with Jesus and how that’s different than rule following traditions, you’ll get a different result.

  6. Faith

    Hmm. I find this all very interesting.

    Context is key. Emotions and anger behind it too.

    But just as a sin is a sin, a swear word is a swear word.

    I can’t help but come back to this.James 3:9-11

    9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?

    • Derek Hanisch

      Faith, I must ask, what makes a swear word a swear word? In English, Sh— is considered a swear word. In Germany, it really is not. So there is a culteral context at work here as well.

      I would argue that James says “Cursing others”. The key here isn’t the cursing, it’s the others. That’s a sin, because we are called to love one another, and not to sling insults and curses at each other.

      However, if a deer runs into the side of my car (this may have just happened, stupid deer) and I say a swear word upon looking at the damage, who is that hurting? Who am I cursing?

      I think there is a distiction between cursing, and cursing at each other.

    • Joey

      I really don’t think that passage of scripture is talking about using a “swear word.” You can curse without uttering a word that would be bleeped on prime time television. “That’s sh***y” is not cursing. “Screw you” is cursing. The first would be bleeped while the second would not. I find the second to be much more offensive than the first. I don’t find the first to be offensive on its own merit whatsoever.

    • Valerie

      I liked the point made about not doing it if Jesus was sitting across from you. He hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes, the riff raff. I have no doubt that they used their equivalents of curse words freely. I also have no doubt that Jesus was able to relate to them and talk to them openly and without judgement….without swearing himself. I get that sometimes we need to let off steam, where things become so overwhelming we need to cry out. But there is always a better way to express myself than cussing.

      That pastor could have easily made his point by lighting up a cigarette…but that wouldn’t make smoking something I would find acceptable. To me he was pointing out the fact that we were focusing on minor failings when there are massive problems in the world that the church needs to tend to.

      People keep throwing around the term “legalistic”. As though following God’s word to the best of our ability is a negative thing. Legalism, to me, is not when we carefully follow God’s word, or even focus on the minor areas of our lives to improve ourselves. Legalism is when we focus on the small things and neglect the greater.

      My final thought would be a memory:
      My youth pastor brought up and interesting point when talking about sexual purity (years and years ago when I was still in high school…was it really that long ago?). As we asked how far was too far, he pointed out our attitude. Basically, how close to the line can we get before crossing it and really disappointing God. When, if we truly wanted to please God, wouldn’t we want to run as far from that line as possible? Sage advice I wish I had listened to in many areas of my life.

  7. David L

    First, I had a professor last semester who swore all the time. He’d drop F-bombs left and right. It was a Communication class of about 200 students and there was a lot of in-class discussion. He said he did swore because he wanted to keep the conversation natural. It was weird, though, because every time a student would talk it seemed like they would just try to fit in swear words to be cool. It was funny because a lot of them weren’t very good swearers and it just sounded awkward. I never said anything about it. I just laughed at them in my head.

    Second, I grew up in a home where if I heard my dad say “Crap”, I knew it just got real. I remember once in 9th grade hearing someone who I thought was a Christian say “ass” and because of that deciding they probably weren’t saved after all. Looking back that was weird of me. It is important though to remember there are people like 9th grade me who can overhear and misunderstand things we might say, even in jest.

  8. Bryon

    Hypocritically, I say no.

    Just returned from a trip to the boundary waters with a great group of guys. Some believers and a couple who struggle in their faith. We had great conversations as a group. I shared, I learned, I led. I left feeling that without a doubt that we all were challenged and experienced growth in our individual journeys.

    Then, this morning, I read Col 4:5 “be wise in the way you act towards outsiders. Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation always be full of grace…”

    Wow. And i thought, yeah…we had great conversations…but I swore multiple times in the trip. I laughed at others when they cursed. Is it socially acceptable to swear when you fall on your butt on a slippery rock, or miss an opportunity to net a huge fish (seriously, it was enormous!) or when a severe storm causes flooding and fright? Sure. Does it glorify God or set a good example to those I am trying to lead to christ? Not even close.

    No matter how great of conversation we had over the past 4 days, i didnt make the most of my opportunity to set a Christ-like example to guys that I care about.

    And so my journey of seeking to be a better person continues…

    • Cor

      Don’t beat yourself up, brother. You’re not alone. I’ve been there too. It’s tough. God forgives. We’re all on the journey with you.

  9. David Ruess

    Hey Cor, I like the topic because I’ve given this a lot of thought within my own life.

    I am okay using swear words depending on the situation.

    I think of language through these lens’ – God teaches us to use our words to build people up and not tear them down (Eph 4:25-32), remove coarse joking from our speech, foolish words, slander, filthy language, etc.. (Eph 5:4 / Col 3:8-9), and that I will be held accountable to Jesus for every word I say (Mt 12:36).

    Curse words are words whose levels of impropriety change over time and culture.

    In my workplace, parent’s home, around friends, in public places, anywhere I am, I am called to obey God with the words I use.

    I have experienced that many people use curse words not as words to curse people or tear them down, but just as part of their language. In that case I will drop f-bombs and whatever else is apart of the mini culture’s vocabulary to build my relationships with them and God’s blessed me with the opportunity to share the gospel with a lot of these people!

    Within public places, my parents home, in situations and people I know are offended I don’t swear out of love and respect for my parents, and because I don’t know where a person might stand.

    There’s also issues of propriety within the culture I live – it’s why we block certain words on TV, rate movies differently, usually look down on teaching kids to swear, etc.. So there’s that to consider.

    Also just love for others – if they find it disrespectful it seems loving to me to not swear around them and to respect their preference.

    I will intentionally swear around a Christian if they think refraining from swearing somehow makes them more pleasing to God, more righteous before Him, helps sanctify them more, or really anything that detracts from the sufficiency of Jesus’ death on cross as our salvation.
    I don’t think offending someone is disobedient to God.

    I also have decided after much thought to not use swear words when I preach, so I would not have done what Tony did.

    Love you COR!!!
    – David

  10. Dave Nelson

    Listen, I’m not a legalist who’s going to say if someone swears – even regularly – that they’re not a Christian. But let’s all be honest with each other and admit that we all know it’s wrong. Don’t ask the question, “Is it permissible?” Ask the question, “Is it honoring to God?”

    And for those who’d like a Bible reference, try Ephesians 5:4 “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” I think that’s pretty clear that we’re commanded not to swear. We’re to use our voice instead to offer thanksgiving to God.

    So all that said, is what Tony C did OK? If he prayed about it and truly felt like God wanted him to do it, then I could be OK with it. But I think that’d be the exception.

    I’d have a hard time with any Christian saying they have to swear to “better relate to non-Christians” as Cor puts it. Just be real with people and think of interesting things to say. Swearing is a short cut and a cheat in conversation. I forget the comedian who pointed this out, but it’s very true. The comedian said swearing is a cheat – you can just about always get an audience to laugh if you add an F-bomb in the middle of the punchline. But the good comedians can get people to laugh without it. Our relationships with non-Christians should be the same. Let’s let our speech be interesting, filled with humility and salt and light.

    • Joey

      Dave, you say you’re not a legalist and that swearing doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian, but “we all know it’s wrong”? You could just as easily say, “I’m not saying if someone watches porn – even regularly – they’re not a Christian, but we all know it’s wrong.”

      Yes, we know that Christians sin regularly and that doesn’t mean they aren’t Christians. It sounds to me, though, like you’re saying that this is an indisputable fact – that all uses of swear words are wrong and sinful and that we all know that.

      Saying, “But let’s all be honest with each other and admit that we all know it’s wrong,” immediately shuts down anyone who disagrees with you. You’re placing yourself in a position where you require others to “admit” that you’re right, as if it’s a given fact that they just won’t acknowledge and that it’s not even a debatable topic.

      Maybe I’m reading what you wrote wrong. Please correct me if I am.

      The fact is that many Christians believe that “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” can be done without uttering a “curse word,” and likewise one can use a “swear word” without being obscene, foolish, or coarse. You just can’t reduce swear words to “a short cut and a cheat in conversation.” While it’s fair to say that you can usually make your point without using a swear word, I think it’s pretty fair to say that Tony Campolo’s point would not have been made without his use of “sh**.”

      And of course, there’s the cultural context of a word, as has been discussed. “Bull,” “cherry,” “crap,” “devil,” “drafted,” and many other words like this were considered taboo in the 1800s. They aren’t any longer because their impact has changed and, in many cases, we simply don’t use those words in the same context in which they were taboo over 100 years ago.

      • Dave Nelson

        Hi Joey,
        Well, first off, I guess I’m missing the point of the your first paragraph, because I would just as easily say that we all know that watching porn is wrong too – and I’d go further and say that it’s even more obvious that doing so is far worse than swearing.

        Secondly, on swearing, I didn’t say every single use of swear words is indisputably wrong – I allowed that Tony C’s usage may have been acceptable and I’d further allow that other rare, exceptional uses of swear words may be justified – but my main point is that the general, habitual use of obscenity (swear words) is wrong, and it’s clearly laid out in the Bible for us to see. Therefore, we should all know that we shouldn’t habitually swear and we should try to cut that language out of our vocabulary. So in a sense I am trying to shut down the conversation, because I think the general, habitual usage of swear words is clearly wrong, and I also think that pretty much every Christian knows it.

        Now, is it the greatest sin we Christians commit? Certainly not – it probably doesn’t rate in the top 10. But that said, let’s not call a sin permissible just because it’s not comparatively that bad.

        On your last points, I’d fully agree with you that “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” can be done without swear words – but this should only further limit what we allow to come out of our mouth.

        I’d also fully agree with you that the culture generally defines what an obscenity is. All well and good, the Bible doesn’t say “Thou shalt not say s***, f***, etc.” It does say we shouldn’t use obscenity, and there are tons of other passages (several of which mentioned in these comments) that say we should be careful what we say and that we should use our words to build up, to praise God, to offer thanksgiving, and to say good things.

        In Cor’s original post, he asked if you’ve ever confronted someone on swearing. I haven’t directly, but I have made jokes about it to tweak the swearer. My favorite – and I haven’t used it in years – is to respond “Whoa, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” It’s not a clearly Biblical or Christian question, but I do think it effectively highlights the contrast between what our mouths should and should not be used for.

        • Joey

          Thanks for the response Dave! I don’t see it nearly as black and white as you do but I really do appreciate hearing your perspective.

          • Dave Nelson

            Thanks Joey

    • nziegler

      In general I agree with Dave and would have used the same Scripture to support it.

  11. Faith

    Derek. It’s just not who I want to be.

    I use it to express anger most of the time.

    Obviously this topic is opinion-based.

    Just simply not who I want to be.

    And the fact that we have to justify the context and culture of it makes me not want to do it anymore. It’s simply just a choice for me.

    Actually I believe it’s not who God wants me to be. One who uses this language.

  12. Faith

    Dave, I’m with you. Thank you for what you wrote!

  13. Kari

    It was really interesting to read all the above…I think about this topic often as it is really applicable. I could quote the Bible verses that people used above, but basically it comes down to the fact that I don’t think it points anyone to the cross or Christ. And this may seem like a cliche example, but if I was standing across from Jesus, I can bet 100% I would not let a swear word come out of my mouth. I just don’t think it is glorifying to God. James 3-12 talks about how powerful our toungue is and that out of the same mouth cursing and praise should not come out. If my purpose is trying to live in this world to show others God’s love and point them to the cross I don’t see how I could tell them the gospel one minute and the next minute swear. I totally get that some people it’s a struggle and that’s just been part of their vocabulary that they’ve grown up with. I have no judgment whatsoever and I’m not trying to be legalistic. I just don’t think that we realize sometimes how powerful our tongue/words are to the rest of the world watching. And I guess I just don’t think it’s respectful. In my job where I am now I don’t hear swearing a lot unless situations are tense, high stress, and some deadline is failing or we missed some fluctuation that we should have caught. However, secretly on the inside my heart just drops when I am in meetings and I hear people drop swear words. I have a lot of respect for people in the business world who can effectively lead without swearing. In my old job swearing was normal and frankly it was uncomfortable for me to be working in it, and I did become numb to it to a certain extent.

    OK…I went off on enough tangents, but I just my thoughts. :)

  14. Faith

    you all can think what you want about james 3:9-11. swear word, cursing, bad names. whatever. i don’t want to do it and the way beth moore spelled out this passage to me and the way God spoke to me about it is how i took it. oh d___, i slammed my finger in the door. not who i want to be. that’s all i can say. personal choice with myself and my heavenly father.

    • Cor

      Thanks, Faith. Your heart for the person you feel God calling you to be is evident. Thank you for sharing these words.

  15. Derek Hanisch

    I was thinking about this more, and honestly, I keep going back to the question of “What makes a swear word, a swear word?”

    Is it being offended at the word? If that’s the case, “The Green Bay Pakcers” is a swear word.

    If that’s also the case, there are words that are questionable. I think most everyone would agree that the f-bomb is a swear word. What about the word “Crap”? I have some homeschooled friends who would say that “Crap” is a swear word. While I don’t swear very often, I do say crap a lot. “What the crap happened?”

    By substituting that word, am I making crap a swear word? If we follow that logic, then anything can become a swear word. Substituting “fudge” for the f-bomb would make “fudge” a swear word, because it’s perpose is to replace a swear word.

    Really, I think it’s one slippery slope. How you choose to define swear words has an impact on this. I would argue that any words that do not show harm to others, or dishonors God are a curse. Yet, how do we define those words?

    When the deer ran into the side of my car on Saturday, and I yelled “F—!” I feel that the word did not show unlove, and that it did not dishonor God.

    In the end, a word is a word, it’s the intent, and purpose behind our words that matter.

  16. Matt

    I think that expletives should be used in a situation where they’re really expletive. But, a list of swear words is funny and weird.

    Is shit a swear word? or is it a noun? On the farm, it’d be a noun.

    “What are you doing tomorrow?”

    “Hauling shit to the back 40″

    “Oh, got your shit spreader fixed?”

    “Yup”

    I think taking the Lord’s name in vain cheapens his name, or saying I swear to G– This or that. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

    Some people view unpleasant things as swear words, such as retarded or bitch. Nobody wants to be either of those, that doesn’t mean that those concepts don’t exist.

    So if crap is a swear word, did the dog just poo poo on the carpet?

    c’mon. No wonder people think Christians are weird.

    • Joey

      If justcor had a “like” button, I’d be using it for this comment. Interestingly, my mom used to talk about her farming family members using “sh**” in the same way. “Sh**” wasn’t a word that any of them found offensive (at least not used as a noun as you described).

    • Stanley

      This almost perfectly encapsulates my opinion on the matter.

      While most of us seem to agree that using the Lord’s name in vain is explicitly laid out as a sin (Oh my god!, Goddammit, I swear to god, etc), and using words to curse others is a sin, we are still left with words like shit and ass, that are widely considered swear words in this country, but not always used to curse others. I would propose this slightly comical method for judging whether a word such as this is inappropriate.

      Almost all of these words have a counterpart word that has the same meaning but isn’t considered vulgar, so what I would say is this: If you can swap out the “swear” word for its counterpart without imparting negative meaning on it, then you’re good to go in my mind.

      Some examples:
      “What is that shit on the carpet!?” – if you swap in “poop” for “shit”, all you’ve done is make the sentence more specific. I think we can all agree that poop is negative in nature wherever it is…

      shouting “FUCK!” when you get hit by a deer is a different thing however. If you swap in “SEX!” then you are using a word that should be one of the most positive things in creation to express your negative emotions, thus imparting negative meaning to what should be a positive word.

      I don’t claim that this is a fool-proof system, but I do think it offers interesting perspective.

      With this in mind and in reference to Matt’s last few sentences; if you are in a situation where you aren’t causing others to stumble, why not go for the word that doesn’t make you sound like a preschool teacher?..

  17. Casey Garner

    I am reminded of Philippians 3:8 Where Paul is talking about his reasons to boast in the flesh, but yet he considers all of his gains as Refuse(ASV), Garbage(NIV), Dung (KJV) Rubbish (ESV), Dog Dung (Message).

    I’ve heard it a few times (and I’d like it to be checked please) that this word in original language is considered foul and many translators didn’t want to use it so they tried to dress it up.

    The point of the matter is that Here, Paul is making a direct reference to S***, and he is doing so using this strong language to make a very important point (That we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works). This is about the only place in the bible I can think of where language is actually used.

    Considering how Paul was a foremost missionary of his time, and had an almost absolute zeal for Christ upon his conversion, and strove to model Christ in his life, I think that his writings show under what conditions we may consider “cuss words” in/appropriate.

    My opinion: It can be used, but in direct context with the ideas communicated, and only in extreme cases. Otherwise I”d probably walk away from it, because the inappropriate use of language doesn’t bring people closer to Christ.

    Here’s another can of worms… What do you do if you’re quoting a person/thing/tv/movie?

  18. David Ruess

    So I’d like to follow up on a common theme I’ve seen in comments – using the Lord’s name in vain.

    In the Bible, using the Lord’s name in vain is not referring to when we say ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ expressively as a “frickitive” Though using it carelessly like does seem to be an issue of disrepct towards God. That’s where I land, but then again we use the word ‘God’ carelessly in so many other ways, to describe a ‘God-father,’ after someone sneezes ‘God bless you,’ ‘God bless’ to say good bye to someone etc…

    But anways,

    The commandment given to the Israelites in Exodus 220:1-17 – about mis-using his name aka taking his name in vain, is actually better understood with thinking about companies today and branding.

    We see an example of this in Ezekiel 13 – prophets were prophesying in the name of God, ‘The Lord Declares…,’ attributing visions to God, doing things and telling people to do things because they thought God was telling them to do something….When God WASN’T telling them any of these things, giving them visions etc..

    They were mis-representing God. Mis-using His name, using it in vain.

    It’s like the Target Corporation getting angry at a person or another storefront if they are putting up the Target name, logo, and selling stuff from their store, when in fact they are not the Target corporation.

    It’d be like the Christian church gathering soldiers to go kill a bunch of Muslims in the ‘Crusades’ and declaring it to be the will of God to retake the Holy Lands.

    It’d be like a preacher telling people ‘You need to simply trust God and give money sacrifically aka until it hurts because God has already promised He will supply for all your needs! Where’s your faith!?’ (Look at Jesus being tempted by the Devil to throw himself off the temple because of God’s promise, where was His faith!?…oh wait)

    It would be like us telling people in our small group that we feel like God is leading us to tell everyone to stop drinking alcohol, or to stop swearing, because it would be a better witness.

    We use God’s name in vain when we slap His Name on something that He has not said or is apart of – within His character, or His Word.

    Just some things to think about. :)
    This was not written to anyone specific above. I love the discussion we are having!

    – David Ruess

  19. Amy

    I’m a little late to the game on this one, but wanted to add a thought or two…

    I do understand/identify with the above comments regarding cussing being seen as authentic and passionate, especially by an authority figure fighting for your cause. And sometimes a well-placed word can bring emphasis to a certain point, as long as it is not done all the time.

    My point of struggle has been the intentional DIS-use of cuss words. When I am in a heated discussion with a friend or family member, it seems so easy to think of a well-placed word or two to use in my argument/defense. Especially when I am hearing it from the other side. However, I have really worked on my intentional restraint of using said words to “set an example for the believers in speech, life, love, faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). The question I have to ask myself is “Will using this word better the interaction I’m currently having, or will not using it raise the bar in the relationship?”

    Anyone can use a cuss-word in a conversation, but how often do we choose to not use them?

  20. Luke

    I agree that there can be a time and place for a Christian to swear, and where doing so can be for God’s glory, such as the first example. However, in my experience, slipping up and swearing, even just in my mind, always moves my trust off of God and onto myself (usually a self that just messed up). I’m curious if others have experienced something similar.

  21. Karly

    To me, the heart of this conversation is that words have power. They can be incredibly life giving and devastatingly soul destroying. It hinges on the intent behind them, regardless of the particular choice of word selection. Our words should be intentional and not flippant, whichever ones we choose to use. It’s more convicting to me to ask if we are being intentional and life giving in our use of language rather than whether or not we say certain words.