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?)
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 would 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?”