Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is It Ever OK To Swear?

For the past couple of years I've been reading books by Mark Driscoll and watching some of his messages on the internet. For the most part, everything he's said/taught/preached has been right on (I particularly enjoyed his take on "The Shack," and I thought he did a fantastic job in the "Does Satan Exist" debate), and I especially appreciate his reformed view of theology and ministry. I've read a couple of his books and have found them to be helpful and fun.

A couple weeks ago, though, I watched this message by Driscoll on a verse from 1 Peter (I can't remember which verse it was) about what it means to be a biblical man. Again, I thought he was right on, docrtinally, and he was funny and engaging. I thought he had a lot to say about what it means to be a man biblically, except there was one point at the end of his message that pretty much skewed everything else he had said (at least in my mind it did). In a moment of just anger and intensity, Driscoll swore.

I've known that Driscoll has had issues with his language, but I had never heard him swear in any of his messages, books, or speaking engagements until now. I also know that Driscoll has had to apologize and "repent" of his foul mouth on many, many occasions. I assume his reasoning for swearing (at least in the message I saw) was that this issue was important enough, and he was so righteously indignant about men shirking their biblical responsibility to be a godly man, that he thought the situation warranted a curse word, if for no other reason than to express his seriousness about the topic.

Swearing and vulgarity have become increasingly permissible in many Christian circles for a variety of reasons. But mostly, I think a lot of people think that swearing is permissible if they get "angry enough," or for dramatic effect. Is that really OK though? To tell you the truth, I personally thought that Driscoll's use of swearing severely damaged his credibility when it came to the content of the rest of his message (one of his main points was that mistreating and using women was a severe cop-out when it comes to biblical manhood, a shirking of one's responsibility). When Driscoll swore in his message, I found myself asking if a "real, biblical man" would really need to swear in making his point. I think it shows at least some kind of immaturity to not be able to express truth (especially biblical truth) without using vulgarity.

Cut to today. Phil Johnson posted this on his facebook page: it's an article on swearing by Eric Pement. He offers seven common "reasons" (it's probably more accurate to call them justifications) for swearing, and why they don't work when compared to scripture. He finds the seven most common reasons for swearing are:

1. To "relate" to the rest of the world.

2. To avoid hypocrisy (for instance, if a person thinks a swear word, they might as well say it - thus, to think about swearing but not actually swearing is supposedly hypocritical).

3. To break religious/Christian stereotypes.

4. Pressure, suffering, or persecution.

5. Because the words aren't bad - the intention behind them is what could be considered sin.

6. Because the Bible doesn't prohibit swearing - just slander, gossip, blasphemy, etc.

7. Because some "swear" words are in the Bible.

Pement goes on to explain why none of these are valid justifications for using filthy talk. I highly recommend the article to you.

No comments: