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Profanity, part 2

May 16, 2006

Shame on you loyal readers, both of you, for not doing your homework and helping me with my profanity bible study. Oh well, the good news is that mere Thessalonians get into heaven too. ;-)

Let me say up front that it is not my desire to promote the more widespread use of profanity. On the contrary, I believe that application of these principles to govern coarse language will actually reduce our cussing by about 95%. But I cannot abide lists of forbidden words. I want something that gets to the heart.

From the verses cited two days ago, I believe we can say that “cussing” is something Christians should not do when…

1) It blasphemes God.
2) It curses people.
3) It glorifies sexual immorality.
4) It expresses anger.

What’s left? Here’s a couple of examples of God-glorifying obscenity.

“Compared to the glories of knowing Christ, the pleasures of sin are a steamy pile of %$#@!”

“Anyone who thinks they can boast before God of their own righteous works is completely *&^%$#!”

If I write a part 3, we’ll look at some examples of coarse language in the Bible, like Php 3:8, Isa 30:22, Gal 5:12, Ez 23:20, and 1Sam 25:22 (see KJV).

16 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2006 6:38 pm

    shame on me for not doing the >$&%*(:-)=@|;}!{#[]^,.?+/~’_

  2. May 16, 2006 9:21 pm


  3. May 16, 2006 9:27 pm

    Mark, I’m not sure a cuss word should ever be an adjective for “bible study”. How about shame on *&^%$#@ me for not doing the Bible study! :-)

  4. May 16, 2006 9:35 pm

    Although, upon further reflection, maybe it could. If you were modifying the word Bible _study_ and not _Bible_ study, and it were a bad Bible _study_ written by a legalist, then go ahead and curse it.

    Also, I remember being very edified one time when a brother was making an important point about community and he said, “How come everytime we get together it has to be a *&^%$#@ Bible study?!”

  5. May 16, 2006 9:36 pm

    that said…

    You gave us part 1 when, 2 days ago?!!

    You gotta give me some time to hagah, man!

    Also, in posting part 2 so quickly, I now am put in the dubious position of possibly disagreeing with you. Yikes! That is not a fun place to be.

    “That is not a small number! That is a BIG number! Very Yes!”

    But I have been hagahing through the first 3 chapters of Roman’s again, so my mind is not completely starving for spiritual food. Perhaps, after a few grovels from you, I might consider joining in the fray once again.

  6. May 16, 2006 9:50 pm

    how’s that for a heaping helping of my unbridled rage?


  7. May 17, 2006 8:05 am

    Mike, I had hoped everyone would see the humor in pretending to write an umpteen character swear word:

  8. May 17, 2006 4:20 pm

    I’m going to go ahead an post the quote below uncencored, as the use of a word in the discussion of the meaning of that word most certainly does *not* meet the guidelines as stated thusfar. Though, as Egana stated already, the whole discussion could be considered unwholesome, but I’d dispute that as well.

    I’ve not verified the claims, but if true it’s an interesting bit of linguistic trivia. The text is from a friends journal.

    “Webster 1913 has an interesting passage about the difference in usage between forgiveness (Anglo-Saxon) and pardon (Norman). These are both words used for the same concept in their native biblical contexts but in common English usage their meanings have diverged. Forgiveness being concerned with internal removal of anger towards the object and pardon being concerned with an external removal of consequences for the object. A magistrate issues a pardon without issuing forgiveness. A compassionate victim may issue forgiveness without the ability to issue pardon. I need to think about this a lot more.

    It is interesting that generally when there is, in modern English, an Anglo-Saxon and a Norman word for the same thing — the Anglo-Saxon word is considered indecent/obscene/profane (e.g. shit, piss, … forgiveness) and the Norman word polite (e.g. excrement, urine, … pardon).”

  9. May 17, 2006 5:11 pm

    oooooohhhhhh MN! Awesome! Taking it to the next level!

    Argh! My brain is gonna splode!

  10. May 18, 2006 7:38 am

    This post has been removed by the author.

  11. May 18, 2006 7:42 am

    so is the hypothesis here that the resulting shift in the british (anachronistic, I know) aristocracy as a result of the Norman invasion (1066?) produced the vocab defference seen even to this day?

    The ruling normans would produce the favoring of thier terms over anglo terms, defining couth (sp?) w/in society…

    It seems plausible to me.

  12. May 18, 2006 10:36 am

    MN is also bringing in the more tricky ideas that “vulgar” and “profane” are always culturally defined. In some ways we want to conform to the culture, and in some ways we don’t. How does the surrounding culture define profane? And what about the “micro-culture” that one finds oneself in on a day to day basis?

    Now my work carries me into contact with other moms, children, teachers, and various neighbors. But because my chosen profession is often banned from the larger professional arena, I do not interact with other professional adults (lawyers, doctors, bankers, engineers, etc. They all work in a “child free” zone of the larger society. My profession is with children, so our paths rarely corss. Sometimes it is ugly when they do. But that’s another post…)

    So my micro-culture (is the correct term “sub-culture? I have an idea that sub-culture is more connected with more strictly defined delineations: African-American subculture, Asian-American subculture, and even Christian subculture, which is a whole nother post and a half…)

    Anyway, so in my micro-culture, profanity (bad words) is certainly taboo, reserved for only the most intense emotional disucssions, and not even then. They are a sign of a loss of self control, a showing of weakness and stress, and incur outrage and scorn from others: “Oh my goodness, I would never say a word like that around my children!”

    So anyway, the biblical mandate against unwholesome words certainly encompasses cultural sensitivity, but the motivations are different. Following the biblical mandate, I would attempt to show love to others by speaking in ways that would build them up and encourage them. Following the cultural mandate, I would seek to avoid others disapproval by speaking in ways that meet their expectations.

    So lets take an example like gossip, eh? People in my chosen profession are known for their long tirades against others. I don’t think I need to prove that. So an example of following the cultural mandate would be to participate (to some degree) in the verbal tearing down and spreading of nefarious information about our husbands. In the same situation, a person following the Biblical mandate could graciously and silently not participate, and risk being considered aloof, or wierd, or unfriendly. But, the same person could also ask the others to refrain from gossiping about their husbands, and instead encourage a conversation about the things we like about said husbands. This last option would be considered rude, and would certainly be gossiped about after I left the scene.

    I hope it is obvious that following the Biblical mandate can be done in ways that challenge the expectations of the culture more intensely, or less so, or not at all. Not all culturally expected behaviors and taboos line up with Biblical love and sin.

    The problem is that heart motivation is not visible, or audible, while behavior and speech are, and so the visible and audible are easier to “evaluate.”

    One last question: If we were missionaries in a foreign culture, we would be very careful to learn the ins and outs of that culture for the sake of our representation of Christ to them. So how does one reconcile Biblical mandates and cultural expectations in ones own native culture, for the sake of the gospel?

  13. May 18, 2006 10:58 am

    Another thing:

    How does a legalist (someone who is trying to merit their salvation by following a list of dos and don’ts) follow this Biblical mandate to make ALL of their speech useful, “such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear?”

    How is it possible to go thorugh one’s day and think, “oh yeah, every single word I’ve said today has been good for building up my children, my husband, my neighbor, my friend on the phone, and the poor guy next door who had to listen to me since he was weeding his garden while I was talking outside to my friend on the phone. Oh yeah, got it covered?”

    Even while I was posting this, my 4yo son came to ask me for the 50th time if he could have one of Jon’s toys, and I am sad to say that my answer did not “give grace” to him who heard.

  14. May 23, 2006 11:02 am

    You know. I’m offended by that. Either you deliberately excluded me from your reader count, or excluded some other important child of God. (Now I’m expecting a sexually referential response of “Bite me!”. :)

  15. May 23, 2006 11:30 am

    Oh, stick it in your ear!

    You have to remember that when I first posted this it seemed we only had two regular readers. The popularity of the blog has skyrocketed since we started cussin’!

  16. May 25, 2006 1:51 pm

    oh, man!

    *heaves a sigh of disappointment*

    here I was thinkin we were getting all filosofical…

    and what it really was about was getting your comment stats up…

    *so dissolusioned”

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