Monday, 07 November 2011
Growing up as a pastor’s kid and in a Christian household, I was always told to guard my mouth, meaning I was forbidden to use profanity in no circumstances. The verse Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right whatever is pure, whatever is admirable…think about such things,” always provided a justification for keeping a clean mouth. Also, it helped Christians remain set-apart from non-Christians who would use profanity as any adjective.
However, as I have grown older I have realized that profanity has its role in society, as it has a role in the Bible.
Did you know that Paul used profanity?
In Philippians 3:8 (NIV), Paul states “Whatever is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ…”
The passage sounds neat and tidy yet what the average reader fails to know the true meaning of the word “rubbish.” English fails to convey true meaning of rubbish, what is really a vulgar term Skybalon which translates to dung or a certain four letter swear in the English language (hint it’s not shirt). Skybalon used in ancient manuscripts implying pure profanity! Paul’s usage is important because the word acts as a highlighted marker emphasizing the seriousness of his words. Everything in his past, his good works, his life as upholder of the Law, is considered sh-t compared to knowing Christ.
Paramount to our lives as Christians is knowing the right moments to act and the correct words to say. Paul knew how to attract the attention of his audience. In the same way, I believe that there are moments in our lives where profanity is justified. There are certainly moments in history, like the Holocaust, war, abusive relationships, poverty, when we could attach such evocative words to such situations. There are moments in our lives when swears are more than appropriate to release stress and anxiety. As Christians we have to be careful about not getting carried away and not using profanity not in context.
In the song “Little Lion Man,” the band Mumford & Sons, uses the F word proclaiming that he screwed up a relationship with someone he loved. Swear words give that extra impact and shock value. They are only powerful in a society that uses them sparingly and contextually.
“36,000 people die a day from malnutrition or water related illnesses and you don’t give a sh–t; what’s worse, you’re more upset that I said sh–t than you are that 36,000 people died last night, and another 36,000 will today."
Were you aware of the implications of what Paul said in scripture? Is there a place for profanity in our language? Do you use profanity sometimes?