Friday, March 20, 2009

Vulgur Language... Where Is The Line?


The article links below delve into vulgar language and biblical sarcasm and where the line is verses going too far. Some consider Paul’s letter to the Philippians to have included profanity when he considered everything “dung” (“skubalon” in Greek) compared to Christ (Philippians 3:8). He used a vulgar concept and a strong word but did he actually use a profane word to do it? Some point to the original language and that today it would correspond to a four letter word not suitable for G rated movies. Others say not so fast.

Are there times where it is ok to use profanity to emphasis God’s word or even when speaking to Him? Are there situations where profanity is biblical and honors God? Did Paul and others do the very same thing in scripture? What does God have to say in His word about our words? Below are two links on the topic.

The first is from Phil Johnson

What about Paul’s use of skubalon? That word was not considered taboo in Greek culture. It was a strong word, but it was not the sort of vile expression that some want to make it… Strong language and profane language are not the same thing. We need strong language in the pulpit, but profane language has no place there. Click here for full message

The second is from Nathan Busentiz

Charles Spurgeon included this kind of “lewd speaking” in his definition of “profane language,” about which he said: “I am unable to frame an excuse for profane language: it is needless willful wickedness.” Click here for full message

Profane language is gratuitous to the world but not to God. To do so falls into the kind of speech I believe Paul was talking about and prohibited in Ephesians 5:3-4 and Colossians 3:8. I pray that God would shed a lot of light on this for his glory and our conformity to His likeness and thinking. A dear friend asked me the following questions nearly 9 months ago when we wrestled with God’s word on the topic. He first asked why people flinch or are offended when such words are spoken by holy men. He then asked if perhaps we have been conditioned to see certain things as vile that God do not intend to be thought of as vile. Those are great questions.

The reason I flinch when we hear such words spoken from “holy men”? Because we should all be concerned with sin and the question really is whether or not it is sin in God’s eyes? It is not that I am offended because it is not about me. It is that I am concerned because someone could be openly in sin and leading others into it. If I love them then I will be concerned about them and sin (and not me).

Have we been conditioned to see certain things as vile when God never intended them to be thought of as such?

Sure. But we have God’s word which is sharp and alive to cut through our conditioning and rationalizations to determine what God did intend. To determine how God does see certain things and how therefore he intends us to see these things. Through the eyes of scripture. Pastors should be above reproach and that includes filthy language. Harsh language and strong language? Go for it as God leads. Filthy language? Not. What is filthy? Where is the line?

There is a difference between biblically describing vulgar scenarios (like the Cross) and using vulgar words. Vulgar words are not required to communicate vulgar scenarios. And vulgar scenarios should be used biblically using strong or harsh language at most, not filthy language. That still leaves the questions as to what is the word list to not say or jokes not to tell? Let scripture guide you and inform your conscience and transform your mind (Romans 12:2) keeping in mind that this is not a small matter. For every idle word we speak we will give an account of.

"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for
every careless word they have spoken." Matthew

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him
when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy
angels." Luke 9:26

Praise God for His mercy, love and forgiveness as He not only saves us but grows us in grace. We have His word on it.

Love, Rob-roy