i swear

26 Jan

There’s only a handful of blogs I follow (there is only so much time in a day, people! We must choose wisely. Which naturally leads me to ask, What are you doing here?)

Sorry. Restart.

There’s only a handful of blogs that I follow, and Frank Viola’s is one of them.

Enjoyed his recent post The Swearing Christian and the discussion following. He gives his “13 cents worth.”
I swearing_1would only presume to add two shekels to most discussions. These are the two shekels I threw in the comment section of Frank’s blog post. Just in case you, like me, think about this now and then. And just in case you, like me, find yourself on those rarest of occasions using an off-color word. Though I still remember years ago being told by a small group leader that someone in her group gushed, “Pastor Mike doesn’t sin!” My response: “Have her come around when I’m pruning my fruit trees. I’ve been trying to kill them through curses for years (Jesus makes it look so easy!). But still there they stand…” I’m just being slightly tongue in cheek here.)

Anyway, here’s my comment. Just a wee bit of Mike’s theology o’swearin’…

I’ll try to keep this clean.

Enjoying the discussion. Thank you, Frank for initiating it. I suppose the one thing I would add is that while we can debate whether Jesus would or would not use words we consider profane in our culture, he very clearly hung out with quite profane people in his. He may not have spoken like them, but he felt at ease with them, and they with him.

This brings me great relief, because one thing is quite clear: no matter what words we do or don’t use, we are all quite profane indeed!

This also tells me that he didn’t, more than likely, directly confront off-color speech patterns by the profane at his table (which is why we are left surmising much about what he would say or not say when it comes to off-color speech). As indicated in many of the comments, his approach was and is typically much more oblique when it comes to reshaping our thought and speech patterns. “Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good.”

Interestingly enough, the speech patterns he does confront are those of the pious. The ultimate blasphemy was not saying “holy crap” or dropping the F-bomb. It was speech of the pious who would only ever dare say at worst “shoot” “dang” “darn” “gosh” (G-d!) and “frickin'” but who, when seeing the finger of God moving right before their faces, sneered, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons!” That was the ultimate “profanity” in Jesus’ book. It was in this setting that he uttered the warning, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” This tells me that, while not giving us carte blanche to cuss away, rather than asking “Is it okay for Christians to use off-color words (and which and when)?”, we should perhaps be asking instead, “How do we pious folks swear like a sailor without ever using a single off-colour word?”



Posted by on January 26, 2013 in musings


Tags: , , , ,

7 responses to “i swear

  1. kerri

    January 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Apparently, the citizens of and visitors to Virginia Beach are quite profane because I saw many of that very sign up there ^ all over the place the one time I found myself there. 😛

  2. wordhaver

    January 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm


  3. Jon T

    January 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Made me laugh and smile to see you write the f-bomb in a blog comment. I’ll have to try that here sometime. 🙂

  4. wordhaver

    January 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    What the Freeman! I did alter my response just a tad when reposting the comment here. I thought the colors appropriate when making the comment in the context of the full discussion there, but wanted to be fully palatable here…just tread carefully, my brother. 🙂

  5. Ann Brenton

    January 26, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I really think (as in all things) cussing is a matter of the heart. I used to be a good cusser. Even got fired for it once. I realized after getting fired that the only reason i cussed was to fit in at work. I don’t think that doing something just so you can fit in is a good enough reason to do anything so i stopped.

    Prayer is a funny thing to me. Why are we supposed to close our eyes? If was alone I can understand that. Closing your eyes is like shutting someone or something out. There are times when shutting out other stimulus is necessary. However if i was in a conversation with people and i shut my eyes that would be rude. But when people pray in a group they close their eyes. Why? We are in the conversation together not alone. Why is everyone else being shut out? and why do people repeat things again and again. (Father God help this person Father God and this person over her Father God) I would go nuts if someone started talking to me that way. Instead of being human in front of God and others we become “holy” and only use special speech. About 4 or 5 years ago I was in a small group where we practiced praying “in human”. One person started out praying and the next person left time for Jesus to speak to each of us then commented on the previous person. We talked about the second half of the basketball game last night and the wonderful weather with crunchy snow and asked Him to cheer up a person in the hospital and cure a person of cancer – all in the same conversation. It felt wonderful. It was like Jesus was in the group and we were chatting about all sorts of things small and large. It was like Jesus was a little above and a little down here. Jesus was that way in the Bible. He healed people and many many people looked up to Him but sometimes at night He woke up because He had to go to the bathroom. Maybe he physically wrestled with kids and had water fights with the disciples. I bet the disciples sympathized with Jesus when He was breaking in a new pair of sandals and got a blister. And when the disciples got rope burn from hauling all those fish in I bet Jesus said, “I hate it when that happens. It sucks!” Then Jesus, the Ultimate Healer, went and got a poultice for their hands. I try to be a little less “holy” when i pray and a little more human. It reminds me that Jesus sympathizes with me and i am at ease in His presence because He isn’t always above. He is also down here. Sometimes I pray like this, “Jesus I hate going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and i also hate it when I have a blister on my foot. I was just thinking about my friend in jail in mexico. I hear that he is really depressed. Would you send him comfort and tell the judges to let him out.” More real. Less “holy”.

  6. wordhaver

    January 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Good thoughts, Ann! I would say that genuine holiness is ultimately being the most real. It’s the mask we can do without. And amen on your thoughts on prayer. Don’t exactly know where the closing your eyes and bowing your head prayer posture came from. Seems like the most common biblical posture was looking up with hands raised…thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings to you as you journey on.

  7. Jon T

    January 27, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Now worries. I was kidding, of course! 🙂 I know that context is important and you’re braver than I!


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