Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Commentary on a Christianity Today Article

The Article can be Found Here - Me and My Dirty Mouth

First I would like to say that I do respect at least part of the staff of Christianity Today, as I am looking at Dr. Thomas C. Oden's Systematic Theology on my reference shelf. That said, I think that this article is incomplete, inaccurate and misleading.

That said I will air my issues and comments on the subject. The overall theme of the article was swearing is bad. Pretty Simple and straight forward. However, the theme is muddied with this issue of Blaspheme and it's relation to "swear words." The Author Lisa Harper, does do an excellent job at condemning Blasphemy, something that many Christians have swung and missed on in evangelicalism. Her Comments are as follows:
The original intent of the third commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" (Exodus 20:7, ESV), was to forbid the Israelites from attaching God's name to purposes that weren't his, explains pastor and author Andy Stanley. We do so when we use language like "God told me" to legitimize selfish motives. Or we employ phraseology like "so help me God" to mask a lie, abusing Jehovah's perfect character as collateral for deceit.

Misuse of God's name isn't merely an accidental, irreverent slip of the tongue, but a deliberate thumb of the nose at the Creator of the universe.

That said there are some problems. My Biggest problem is the lack of defined terms. She doesn't state what clearly what is and is not "swearing." She also failed to address expletives at all. The point that I am trying to address with this is twofold - First: What we consider 'swearing' is simply acronyms of the past, and/or legitimate technical terms that have been deemed 'Foul.' There is nothing ontologically within certain words that make them bad, instead people of the past have seen them as foul and we have continued to perpetuate that belief. Second: There are things within the pages of our bibles that could be seen as swearing if said by a modern person. Most are written by Paul, but I think that these statements need to be considered in light of other biblical commands of having pure speech.

The Statements:

Romans 6:2 By no means! -- the Greek phrase [...] is a strong expression of surprise and disapprobation. -- This Phrase was rendered very powerfully in the KJV as God Forbid.

Philippians 3:8 For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. -- The term Rubbish is most properally understood as "dung" In fact, the head pastor of the Church I attend, said it best when he explained that if this were a bumper sticker, it would read "Rubbish Happens." This is definitely akin to the terms that are seen as swearing today.

Galatians 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who put you under a spell? -- This is Paul Calling the believers of Galatia Idiots... Basically, according to Albert Barnes, Paul is saying that the Galatians are Remarkable Imbecilic.

Galatians 5:12 I wish that those who are unsettling you would castrate themselves! -- Need I say more, Paul is pretty clear on his feelings about those who are preaching circumcision.

All that as evidence, I think that there is a clear time and place for strong and even foul language. We should use foul terms to describe foul things.

As a caveat, I would say that this requires some defining on a personal level as to what is and is a foul thing, but what is foul language. I think that one must balance the foulness of the act/belief/event and the perceived foulness of the word used.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should go to the Shepherd's Fellowship(SF) Pulpit Magazine, on the 2nd page there is the text of a talk given by Phil Johnson regarding this subject. It is called Sound Words, Sound Doctrine I believe. you could also get the audio from the SF website.