I’m really nervous about posting this. I’m afraid it may sound judgmental and may make people feel really cranky. Others may be offended. And it may not even be a relevant post to those of you reading this! But I read an article in USA Today about a month ago that addresses something I’ve been pondering for awhile. It talks about the trend in publishing (books, music, plays) to use profanity in the title. The article says, “What used to be profane is becoming prevalent – and very profitable.” Turns out that naming something “S— My Dad Says” makes the book sell more. Go figure.
Not so surprising in secular culture I guess, but what about Christians? As I’ve been reflecting on this, it seems like even we as Christians can fall into several categories…
1. The Hipster Christian. Profanity is THE badge of cool. The thing that says, “I can follow Jesus, but I’m just like you on the hip-o-meter. I’m down with the f-word so don’t exclude me from your conversation.” It’s more an intentional part of their persona than an occasional slip when they stub their toe.
2. The Anti-Pharisee. I am not a legalist. Only the Pharisees would bother with language as an expression of devotion to Jesus. It’s all about grace and I’m leaning into it.
3. The Exceptional Christian. Occasional crude language, like driving the speed limit, is my exception to the rules. You have your exceptions, I have mine.
4. The I’m a Jesus-follower. I love Jesus, but not uptight Christians. I care about what He cares about and that’s social justice. Evangelist Tony Campolo told many audiences in the 1980s, “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 damn. Third, and worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said a swear word than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
5. The Real World Christian. “This isn’t a big deal. Let’s major on the majors and let this one go.” We have a good friend who came to Christ and designated himself our “S— F—- Guy” He said he saw it as his job to loosen us up and keep us in touch with the “real” world.
I think people (like me!) are afraid to even bring this up for fear of being labeled a prude. I grew up in a sheltered environment where we never heard any language considered even remotely objectionable. As a result, it’s not what I think to say, except somehow on the golf course or tennis court (where it is always justified 🙂 ) which probably puts me in the “Exceptional Christian” category. In any other context I’m probably more sensitive to crude language than most.
This issue came to mind in a different way the other day when I read an article about how our more and more casual dress in church is an indication that we don’t revere or have the awe and respect for God that we once did. Dress. Language. Are these related? Do they say something about our view of God?
I’m really interested in what you think about this! Chime in in the comments!