Lately I've been wondering what the big, hairy deal is with Christians and profanity. I was reading Church Marketing Sucks and I was taken aback by a recent post. Pastor Ed from Texas is discouraged by modern day cussing pastors. He used examples of the offending vulgarities and they were words like "pissed off" and "crap" and "sucks" and frankly I don't get it. First of all, someone needs to teach that dude how to cuss all right and proper like. I know profanity and that isn't it! I mean, didn't God himself have some strong feelings about "He that pisseth against the wall"?
I know I haven't been in the club very long, but I'm still mystified. I'm assuming if he doesn't like crap, he certainly doesn't approve of real profanity. I read the bible roughly 5 or 6 times a week. I actually enjoy it and look forward to it. So I would think that the concerns with cussing would be, you know, obvious to me. So far they are not.
I grew up in a military family from the northern U.S. so I don't even notice profanity half the time. It was always just a part of the scenery. It's not even considered profane by the speaker or the recipient in most cases. It's common dialog.
Ironically, however, I have made it a personal goal not to use profanity and for the most part, I don't. I have my moments where I slip into old habits, but largely my language is church-appropriate on a daily basis. Here's the thing though, I don't do it for Jesus or for any religious conviction. My reasoning is that I want people to understand me and consider my points of view. I want to be seen as credible (don't we all?). I don't want my choice of words to interfere with what I have to say. In light of this, I took a look at all people and I realized the following:
A. People who cuss are tolerant of people who do not. For the most part they are understanding and respectful of the culture of the non-profane.
B. People who don't cuss are not tolerant of people who do. For the most part if you use profanity, they will stop listening to you and avoid you entirely.
C. The path of most effective communication is one without cussing.
I commented in response to the "cussing pastor" post and now I'm wondering if it's a valid perspective.
Ed has Southern Baptist tunnel vision. And I'm not talking about his theology, I'm talking about his culture. To the majority of the U.S., it's only the reached people who are offended by "bad language".
So if you want to save the saved, keep on wasting time on this topic. If you want to introduce unreached people to Jesus, speak to them plainly, in their vernacular.
I'm a hypocrite. I know this. Not only am I wasting more time on this, I've invited you to do the same. If I'd have known I was going to write this post, I can assure you I wouldn't have written that :-).
I'm not advocating that people who do not use cuss words start using them in order to artificially impress others. Unless of course someone has a video camera rolling because as that scene plays out in my mind it is awkward and hilarious. What I am advocating, or at least questioning, is whether or not we should be judging Christians who already use cuss words as a natural part of their vocabulary. If I am a Christian and I'm hanging out with my friends who use cuss words as a part of everyday language, and I am fluent in the same vernacular, is it right or wrong for me to speak the common tongue?
And so, a paradox. On the one hand, I don't want my girls to grow up with potty-mouths. On the other, I don't want them to feel awkward or uncomfortable around people that choose to be different than them.
It seems to me that we Christians are artisan wall-builders. And the tragedy is that all of the walls we erect just so happen to be strategically positioned between nonbelievers and Jesus.
Is it only the reached people that are offended by profanity? If so, does that say something? Is profanity in the ear of the beholder? I'm searching, here. So bust out your bibles and liquor me up with some religion already. Clearly, I need it.