I thought the title might get your attention, and in answer to the question, which actually should look more like this:
Can you use the F-Word and still be a Christian?
I’d say, I sure hope so, or I’m toast, you know — burn, burned, burnt.
There is a prevailing belief among many Christians that swearing, or using vulgar language, is evidence that a person is not actually a Christian, because
” . . . out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12:34-35)
If someone swears, the thinking goes, then this is a clear indication that Christ does not live within him, because if the person were truly a Christian, he would not swear. Based upon this premise, a delightful Christian man, who for many years served as an elder in a church, has a surprise waiting for him at the end of life because one time, when he was chasing a recalcitrant cow around his field, he muttered under his breath a word describing what comes out of a chicken, and I’m not talking about eggs.
Up to that point, we had always been a bit nervous around this man, because he was so good, but when we overheard the imprecation, we redoubled our efforts to bring down that cow.
At the base of it, vulgar language is nothing more than words, and if you don’t believe me, watch British television and see if you can figure out when they’re swearing (as long as you’re not British, of course, because you already know). While we obviously share a language, including several common vulgarities, we also differ — think “biscuits” instead of “cookies.” So there will be British sailor terms that mean nothing to me, because I have no cultural association with them.
But to my American ears, they sound so funny and funky and innocuous: “Oh, biscuits and fish! You wonky-tonking ploppet you! Ennervate off!” (I sincerely hope I haven’t accidentally used any real vulgarities.)
Even if I have, is my Christianity jeopardized? And how about yours, if you have played around with a British accent or a French accent or a Tunisian accent and imitated some of their naughty words, which mean nothing to people outside the culture?
But back to the F-word which yes, is a vulgarity that is highly offensive to some, not so offensive to others. You can go down the line all the way to GolDangIt, which we all know stands for something else, and some people use it with no problem, and others do not — so based upon the language choices used, which of these people are Christians, and which are not?
This is a question that you can’t accurately answer based upon extremities — language, hair style, length of skirt hem, food choices, the list doesn’t end. While it is true that Christianity brings about positive changes in our lifestyle, the changes that really matter are the ones we can’t see, or hear.
Look at that verse at the beginning of the article — while vulgarities spewing from our mouths aren’t necessarily good, civilized, or evidence of our capacity for effective word choice, there is something that is far, far worse. It looks like this (say it softly, as if you were talking behind somebody’s back):
“I’ve heard, you know, that their eldest daughter is . . . sleeping around. Bless her heart. She’s so confused, but then . . . given the lax way that she was raised, it’s not surprising.”
That, my friend, is evidence of vile and bile spewing from this person’s heart, and the damage created by this observation is far greater than any vulgarity. One simple sentence, without a single swear word, has managed to reduce and demean several human beings to the status of dirt.
It’s not that vulgarities don’t matter; it’s just that they don’t matter as much as what we think. As tempting as it is to judge somebody harshly based upon what they say or how they dress or whether or not they attend church services, that’s not how God does things.
Mercifully for us.
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