Escaping the Fishbowl

Today I’ve got a guest blogger for you. Direct from Twitter is Preachers Kids Probs. He’s quite a spiritual hybrid: a generation removed from the Amish church, a closeted catholic, an overchurched cynic, and baptist preacher’s kid. So, without further ado, take it away kid!

~TXS

courtesy of Amaar at www.pptbackgrounds.net

courtesy of Amaar at http://www.pptbackgrounds.net

How many times have you been in church and thought to yourself “this again?” or “can I just sit down already?” Of course you don’t say anything. To say anything about your perpetual boredom during the service would be rude, most likely, and probably call into question your salvation. Not that you walk into church with the intent of repeating the same thing, singing the same tired praise chorus for the millionth time (seriously, how many times can you sing “Come, Now Is The Time to Worship” or “Heart of Worship” without having an aneurism?), being bored to death during the sermon, or even wondering how much longer the service is going to be; but it still happens.

I’m going to clue you in on something. The sound guys behind you- you know who I’m talking about- the fat guys with beards chugging coffee? He’s chugging coffee because his day probably started around four or five that morning. Trust me, he’s just as bored as you are. Even in my dad’s church, I would often be asked to run sound because I had done AV work professionally for other churches and I was still bored even then. I remember even playing angry birds in the sound booth once the sermon started. Not really professional on my part, but it was either that or take a nap.

Bored to death during the sermon? I’ll drop another truth bomb on you. Chances are your pastor spent quite a bit of his week praying over what to preach over and the sermon he has prepared is what someone in the congregation needed to hear. I know often times, even for myself as a youth intern when leading bible study or “preaching” during youth meetings or events, I would often be in the middle of my notes, looking out into the group of kids that we had there and think to myself “I feel sorry for these kids.” It’s the truth. Sometimes your pastor has had just as much of a stressful week as you did – if not more stressful – and to be at church preaching the word that God laid on his heart is nothing short of miraculous.

As a preacher’s kid, I can attest to this in more ways than you can imagine. I don’t just live in a fishbowl; I am the fishbowl… maybe that’s a tad existential. But try being on display for the church and the community and have them judge every move you make, what you go to see at the movies, and what you listen to. You have no idea how many times I’ve wanted to scream, “Are you freaking kidding me?” When my dad accepted his previous pastorate I was asked to do some work with the youth that summer as well because of my experience beforehand in youth ministry. During a business meeting the subject of the youth’s spiritual state came up and included the fact that we shouldn’t have couches in the youth room because it “promoted inappropriate closeness.” I responded to the first with “Well, are you going to volunteer for youth events? Are you going to invest in them? No? Okay, sit down. I think we’re done on that count.” To the second point about the couches I pointed at the pews and asked, “Are these safe? There isn’t anything dividing me from another member of the opposite sex. In fact, are you prepared to give extra money to replace the seating that we’re losing by removing the couches? No? Okay, I guess we’ve solved that.” Needless to say, from that point on, I fled church business meetings (aka Voice Your Complaints Sunday) like the Israelites fled Egypt. I also didn’t do any more work with the youth after that summer (shout out to my little sister for stepping up to the plate beautifully).

Ready for another truth bomb? We all have twitter accounts… and we use them. We use them to say what we can’t readily say in church, we use them to vent, we use them to ask for intercession, and we use them to poke fun at you- and ourselves. I’ve had the honor of “meeting” various individuals along the way.

These are people who have been in the ministry and left because they got burned out by always having to quell uprisings in the congregation. These are current youth ministers trying not to voice their exasperation at the lack of spiritual concern in their youth group publicly. These are worship pastors making fun at the sorry state of “worship music.” These are pastors who are still preaching in churches that need to crack a joke or two. These are church members who are just bored with their churches in general.

Don’t get me wrong; I would hope to God that none of us use our anonymous accounts for tearing others down or gossiping. But often times we need a place to let our hair down and make a joke or two about how churches always need money to spend on new pens with the church name on them for the office or how there is a definite lack of money in the church often resulting in our giving extra time and money to help make ends meet for the sake of the gospel.

I first encountered this effect with one of my best friends and his family. He had spent a good portion of his teenage years outside of the United States and when he and his family came back to the states, they opened their house to other missionaries coming back on sabbatical. I had long suspected that other families in the ministry were fairly normal, but never actually witnessed other people in the ministry letting their hair down and having fun. In hanging out with these people who gave their lives to the impoverished, the sick, and the downtrodden; I found that, in fact, these people were very much the same as I. It knocked my socks off to hear the confession from a missionary: “really, sometimes all I want is a cigar and a cold beer.”

I don’t mean to say that all the people you know in ministry positions are like this in fact, I assume there are quite a few that are ultimately quite boring (Yes, I’m talking about <insert name of your favorite pastor here>), but what I’m getting at is they’re all normal people and they have many of the same wants, needs, desires, and passions that you do. We all get discouraged; we all have experienced the feeling that the service would seemingly go on forever. Want to complain about how the music was or how the sound was this morning? Trust us. We know.

In fact, we most likely noticed far more minute screw-ups during the worship service and sermon than you can even imagine. Thought that the sound was off during the sermon? Congratulations, we know. In fact we’ve been using the same microphone since 2003 because the church budget won’t allow us to get new equipment and the options are either a quieter sermon or listening to feedback for the better part of 30 minutes. Thought the music was droll and boring? Trust us, we know. We even noticed that the bass player’s bass was a little flat during the worship set; we even noticed that the worship pastor had a sore throat.

You want to complain that we haven’t done true love waits with the youth group again? We’re aware that we haven’t done it because we can’t change a heart issue. Want to complain about how so and so in the congregation are dragging people down because they still smoke or drink? We’re well aware that they do, we also watched you cut people off while cursing merging off the highway to get into the church parking lot. In all fairness, I probably cut you off earlier this week too- but I would much rather talk about you and not me.

What I’m getting at in this obscenely long diatribe is that- at least speaking for myself- we have anonymous accounts for a reason. You get to vent all you want at church or to your friends. We get to vent- usually- to no one. Having been in leadership positions and watching my friends and mentors get torn down by people with vendettas, I wish that I would have had a place to vent or scream “hypocrite” during those times because far too often, churches aren’t necessarily the most open or accepting of places. Instead of forming bonds that strengthen the body of Christ- the church- we form cliques. Instead of walking in humility, we point to the church bake sale and say, “look what I organized!” Instead of walking in mercy, we condemn a youth pastor for making a south park reference because it was relevant to the situation. Instead of walking in grace, we forget that the homosexual next door to us is just as in need of Christ’s redeeming love as our gluttonous and envious hearts are.

You want to see your pastor’s life change? You want to see your church staff be more productive? Start walking in humility, offer to visit the sick in the hospital and take no extra credit for it, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3-5) Start walking in mercy, overlook the bad and focus on how Christ loves them and how they can be used for the kingdom, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:6-7) Start walking in grace, show love to everyone you meet and make peace where there peace is so desperately needed, remember that Christ forgave you while you were still hopelessly mired in sin “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:8-9)

When in doubt, love God first; then love people. There’s a good chance that sitting right next to you during the service is someone with an anonymous twitter account bemoaning the current state of the church and Christianity in general.


When Anons Get Serious

Someone recently said to us:

“I follow Anons because you’re funny and (mostly) stay away from painful issues that divide us. Have you lost your collective minds?”

No. We haven’t.

While many of us are on here to be funny, some of us are here to make you think. But honestly, why can’t we do both? Some of the best comedians use social commentary as their material.Serious-Man

It’s not different from Xian Anons who use a comedic platform to get people to think seriously about faith, spirituality, the Church, ethics, and morality.

Many of us love the Church and love Jesus. Our hearts break when we see the Church and Xians doing stupid things that work to divide us rather than unite us. They break when we see Xians acting more like the world than like Jesus.

For that reason I will try to make you laugh. I will try to make you think.

If you are only here for the funny – that’s okay. The cool thing about social media, whether it be Twitter, FB, or blogs, is that you can consume the content you want and ignore the content that steps on your toes.

If you don’t want your Anons to talk about serious issues, don’t read those blogs and Tweets. You won’t hurt our feelings.

But maybe…just maybe…we might be able to add to the conversation a perspective that brings a breath of fresh air to Xianity.

We’d love to hear your voice: How do you feel when Anons are more pointed than funny?

 

Forced Gay – The Battle for Straight Xian Rights

I originally wrote this when the battle between Evangelicals and the LGBT community erupted over business service. It’s just as appropriate today with what’s happening with Arizona’s SB1062.

If you haven’t heard by now let me tell you. New Mexico is a hot mess. Just recently there was a State Supreme Court decision that a Christian-owned photography studio violated a gay couple’s human rights when the studio declined to do the couple’s wedding pictures.

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog says:

Under the New Mexico Human Rights Act, it’s unlawful for a public accommodation to refuse to offer its services to someone because of the person’s sexual orientation. The same law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry and gender.

The phrase “public accommodation” generally means public and private places (even retail establishments) used by the public.

As a business used by the public, the New Mexico Supreme Court says that the Christian couple needed to accommodate the same-sex couple with their services. I’ve seen a lot of Evangelicals (my own camp of Christendom – and yes, I know Christendom is an historically loaded word, for all of you theologians and church historians) get their noses bent out of shape about this New Mexico case.

But before we jump on the bandwagon of martyrdom and outrage at the persecution of Christians let’s think through the whole thing. Ready? Thinking caps ON!

The whole idea of disallowing businesses to refuse service to people is actually a good thing. It was a critical piece of the civil rights movement. It’s the piece of the puzzle that tells restaurants, ”You cannot refuse service to colored people.” It’s the piece that says landlords cannot refuse housing to someone based on a personal agenda. It’s a good thing…until we feel it is working against our own beliefs.

When we get called on violating someone else, rather than respond with humility and an apology, we get all in a huff. HOW DARE YOU TREAD ON MY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! Slow down, turbo. Think about it. Let’s ponder the case of the photographer.

The business didn’t want to be seen as supporting a cause they disagreed with. I understand that – I really do. But I have a hard time believing that they only serve good Christian folk. Would they take pictures of an atheist wedding? Would they take pictures at a reception where people would be getting hammered? Do you really mean to tell me that this business weeds out all sinners and only serves the perfect elect?

Hi there. Welcome back to earth. I really don’t see that happening.

It doesn’t matter that the couple was able to find another photographer. If my wife and I tried to eat in a restaurant and were denied service because we’re a mixed-race couple IT DOESN’T MATTER IF WE CAN EAT AT THE SUBWAY DOWN THE STREET – IT’S WRONG! Was I clear about that? Unfortunately it still happens. As recently as 2004, Cracker Barrel was discriminating against brown people (segregated seating and giving colored people poorer service). This is not the stuff of theory – this is too true in our “modern” society.

On the flip side, the law also protects Christians. It means that we can’t be denied service from an atheist shop owner/operator simply because we’re Christian. The law is geared to protect ALL people. We don’t get to pick and choose to apply it to some people and then exclude others. Otherwise any shop can turn down anyone for any “belief” the owner has. And there are some crazy beliefs out there. We don’t want personal beliefs dictating service.

So let’s get off our moral high horses and recognize that we goofed this time. If you can’t do it, then I’ll do it for us.

To everyone who has been denied service from an Evangelical Christian, I am saddened that you were treated in such a manner. You did not deserve to bear the brunt of discrimination.

To the rest of us – we can do better. Jesus said that we’re to treat people the way we want to be treated (that thingy called the Golden Rule?). We don’t get to treat people based on whether or not they fit our preferred profile.

So like this post and share this post with the world (shameless plug, yes?) because there are too many of us out there that think we can pick and choose who we will be decent to; who we will serve or cast aside.

And that’s really not Christ-like, you know?

How about you? Have you had to face discrimination for any reason? Anything you are able to talk about?

The Rebellious American Spirit

In case there was any doubt in your mind, yes – Americans have a rebellious spirit. You can see this most evidently in political diatribes on social media. We love to stick it to each other. We rail against the horrible policies of our opponents and those of differing agendas and parties.

In extreme cases, I’ve seen people call for Soldiers to openly rise up and seize the White House and remove the President from power. In less extreme cases, I’ve seen people call all sorts of horrible names and level all sorts of wicked accusations against politicians with whom the accusers disagree. It seems that there is no such thing as civil discourse any more.

What really saddens me is how quickly Christians jump on board with this kind of behavior. It’s as though we are giving in to our basest nature and forgetting the Godly nature that is supposed to now guide us. We justify our behavior and our language in all sorts of ways – trying to find an excuse for why we’re calling Senator So-and-So a poo-poo head or linking the President to Hitler.

It’s like we revel in seeing ourselves as the Rebellion and anyone who disagrees as the Empire.

The simple fact is this – I don’t see any cause in the Bible for treating people like this. The Apostle Paul seems pretty straightforward:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

Of course, Paul’s “governing authorities” were not the duly elected officials of our era. We’re talking about the Emperor and his governors. You know…the ones who put Christians to death. And still Paul calls us to surrender our rebellious spirit to God and to subject ourselves to the authorities. If God is really in control of this world, then even the authorities we despise are part of his plan.

Politically minded Christians are the worst, because we tend to justify our behavior with the God-card – trying to mix our politics and faith. Missiologist Ed Stetzer once wrote: When you mix politics and religion you get politics.

Even when we disagree with the policies and decisions of the elected officials, let us make sure that we are not embracing a sinful rebellious spirit but can submit; Republican, Democrat, Independent, whomever.

No matter what happens in the country, this world is not our home. Our ultimate allegiance is not to the flag but to our God. Eventually you will get jerked around by government and organizations – it’s the nature of the beast (yes, pun intended). But take it with a measure of grace and know that God’s got bigger plans than American health care, or gay marriage, ____________ (insert the issue of your choosing).

No matter what happens God is still God.

10 Rules for Twitter Anons

theanonchurch.org

theanonchurch.org

There are all sorts of Xian Anons out there. I follow hundreds of them. Each one has his or her (or it?) own slant on how to do things. And while each one approaches Twitter differently, there are some things that you should understand if you’re in the Xian Anon game (or thinking about getting into it).

1. There are no rules: This is the most important to understand. What?!? How can you write about the rules for running an Anon account and then say that there are no rules? It really comes down to this: These rules are things I wish people had told me from my first day of tweeting. I have been fortunate to have some very intelligent and savvy people come alongside me and offer me some pointers, but there’s no manual to consult from the beginning.

So remember this: these are good ideas, but not written in stone. I’ve seen Anons that do not do these but have THOUSANDS of followers. I’ve seen Anons do these and never get more than 100-200 followers. There’s no magic formula. So take these for what you will. Some things that I believe about running my Anon account.

2. People with catchy names & sexy pics will get more followers and retweets than all of your incredibly witty & deep tweets. It doesn’t really matter how clever you are – you’re going to be limited by your avi and handle. I’ve seen people with a funny name and sexy avi get followers without having any substantial content. It sucks, but that’s life. Sometimes a theme or character will really help (like Snooty Seminarian or Back Row Baptist) – it gives people something to get behind rather than a vague generality (like The Xian Satirist) 😉

3. An avi, a bio, and some original tweets are more likely to motivate me to follow you back. If you don’t have these things the odds are that people won’t follow you. You’re an unknown quantity. Fill out these things and give people something to latch onto. People will identify you by your avi. It’s one reason we get so confused when some of our favorite accounts change their images (Church Judge, FairICBaptist, I’m lookin’ at you two)!

4. You have a greater chance of Tweets resonating with others if you Tweet things that resonate with you. I know everyone does it, but I really don’t want to read about your dinner. When you tweet something that really strikes home with you (either a joke or a serious tweet) you have a greater chance that it will resonate with the rest of us. Practically speaking that will give you more favorites and retweets.

5. Unless you’re a celebrity with a bajillion followers you should be interacting with people. I understand that some people are on Twitter only to promote their message, but I prefer to see people interact. I’m always impressed by those who have 10,000-100,000 followers still interacting with their followers. That’s pretty cool. It’s social media – why come you being anti-social?

Warning – I do know that some people will unfollow you if you’re filling up their timeline with conversations. They only want to see the 140 character zingers, not an ongoing conversation. You really have to determine what kind of account you want to run and find a balance between your original material, retweets, and conversation.

6. If everything on your TimeLine is a retweet I may unfollow. Show me some original thought besides what you find from others. Plain and simple. I like retweets, but I want people I follow to give me good original thought. If you put out good material I’ll retweet you myself.  🙂

7. A great concept, handle, and avi are wasted if you don’t tweet regularly and consistently. When I first started my account I was told by one of the popular kids, “I really like your account. I hope you stick around and don’t fade away like many Anons do.” If you put out good content people will want to stick around. Having a great account is a terrible waste if you’re not consistent and regular in tweeting. I’m not even advocating daily tweets, but find a balance that works for your life to be a regular part of Twitter and I’ll hang around to see what you’ve got.

8. You don’t HAVE to follow back everyone who follows you. It’s your account – handle it how you want. Seriously. I’ve seen a lot of people get upset about how a twitterer handles follows, follow-backs, and unfollows. BUT IT’S YOUR ACCOUNT! Do what you like. Follow, unfollow, and block people at your own discretion. You’re not a bad person because of it – you’re taking care of your own account. You may upset some people and they might unfollow you, but it’s.just.Twitter.

9. Don’t rejoice over every follow. Don’t fret over every unfollow. Too much anxiety on Twitter over numbers. I know. I’ve done it. I stopped sweating it only about a month ago and realized that I’m just gonna have people unfollow me every day. Twitter is like a small-town parade. As it goes by you’re gonna have people jump in and walk with you. You’re gonna have people jump out and leave. You can’t control any of that, so don’t sweat it.

10. There’s a fine line between trying and trying too hard. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Just be as authentically you (or your character) as you can be. It’s obvious when we try too hard (my wife always calls me out on it) and is less attractive. Just try to be you and you’ll do fine.

Well, that’s it. What would you add?

You’re #NotReallySaved.

salvation

So it started like this: an Anon friend of mine made a comment that he was going to go watch a Dexter marathon.

I jokingly said, “You say you’re a Christian but you watch those terrible shows. You must not really be saved.”

Then inspiration hit me.

Let’s face it ~ we’re masters at belittling the salvation and faith of those who don’t fit our own mold of what it looks like to be a Christian.

Then the game took off like wildfire. Dozens of people jumped in and came up with hundreds of ways we belittle others’ salvation. Here’s but a small sample of some of the things we came up with.

The list went on and on. In fact, people are still playing it today! Some are jokes (and quite funny). Some are serious. It’s clear to me that many people have been hurt by others who claim to be Christian but, for whatever reason, don’t allow certain behaviors to be part of their theological circles.

Most of the list really comes down to this:

And that’s a shame. The Bible is actually not as black-and-white about all of these side issues as Christians are. Salvation really comes down to faith in Jesus. Can you smoke weed and have a saving faith in Jesus? Can you vote a certain political party and have a saving faith in Jesus?

I think so.

In the end the “You’re not really saved” lists that we all have come down to us – what we dislike or disapprove of. Don’t get me wrong – the Bible does talk about sin and Christian behavior. But we seem to add a lot of things to the lists.

Won’t we be surprised when we reach eternity and find people who didn’t live the way we wanted them to live?

If you’ve ever had your salvation doubted because of this or other issues – I’m sorry. Christians mean well (usually) but we have a horrible way of judging anything that doesn’t fit our mold.

And if you’ve ever doubted or questioned the salvation of someone else because of some behavior you disapproved of it’s time to repent. The condition of someone’s salvation is really up to God.

So, What Kind of Racist Are You?

So this week a friend send me this video to watch. I was laughing so hard I nearly died laughing. Seriously, it was pretty bad. Fortunately my wife was able to revive me. Then I watched it again.

Have at it:

While it’s incredibly funny, the video highlights an all-too-true reality:

We judge people based on external qualities and then form opinions based on those judgments.

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh boy – here we go again. Another post on race.”

Well…yes.

While some deny it or try to trivialize it, the truth is that this is a common experience in the world. As husband to a mixed-race woman I’ve been there and have heard people ask:

“So…what are you?”

“Where are you from originally?”

Here’s a true story – Years ago we were interviewing for a church position. We had sent in a resume, photograph, sermon sample, etc. The search committee called me to conduct a phone interview. Over the phone one of the deacons asked, “What ethnicity is your wife?”

My response? “Um, why does it matter?”

We did not end up going to that church.

Our problem is that, in these questions we pretend that we’re not racist. But we are. If we weren’t racist why would we even need to ask the question?

I know, know. You’re just curious. You just want information.

Baloney. That’s the kind of question you ask when you have a real relationship with and you end up having a conversation about family trees. It’s not something you ask someone superficially.

The Apostle Paul tried to address the way we view each other and the ways those views play out in behavior. He said that there is no class distinction in Christianity. There is not race distinction in Christianity. There is no gender distinction in Christianity. In Jesus the playing field is leveled.

We are no longer this or that. We simply are.

When you ask a person what he is and where he comes from you are taking away his ability simply to be. That’s not Christian. Well, I suppose it too often IS Christian.

But it’s not supposed to be…

Equality is Overrated

Equality is Overrated

Do not mess with my cookies. I will hurt you.

But seriously, the other day I heard someone declare: “I believe in equality but…”

When you finish with “but” you’re telling everyone that you don’t REALLY believe in equality. You want to withhold something from someone.

So check yourself. Don’t be a but-head.

The Best Way for Xians to Cuss, Dad Gummit!

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

If you have a sensitivity to coarse language you may want to skip this post…

So the other day I played a game with some friends. I asked people to help me come up with as many Xian swear alternatives as we could (those are words Xians use when we feel a need to swear but don’t feel comfortable using any of the words the world uses). Keep in mind that Xians have different standards of what is or is not acceptable. But here is the list we came up with.

  1. **#%%#*#&#*
  2. Fahrvergnügen
  3. mother frito
  4. Shazbot!
  5. CHEEZ IT!
  6.  Jeepers!
  7. Jinkies!
  8. Zoinks!
  9. cheese and crackers.
  10. “crumb” instead of “crap”, for the very conservative 🙂
  11. oh my word, oh my stars
  12. Gadzooks!
  13. crappydoodle
  14. Holy Canoli!
  15. Horse feathers!!
  16. Crapola
  17. oh my Gosh!
  18. Cat Hair
  19. Shut the front door!
  20. Well I’ll be dipped in buttermilk
  21. Ticked Off!
  22. Razz ma-tazz!
  23. Freak
  24. Frickin’
  25. Frickin’ A.
  26. Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!
  27. Good gravy
  28. D’OH!
  29. fudge ripple
  30. GOOD GOSH!
  31. FUZZY MUFFINS!
  32. son of a biscuit
  33. He’s full of shiitake mushrooms!
  34. Goshdarnit
  35. What the frick?
  36. sugar
  37. shoot.
  38. Crap
  39. fudge
  40. snap
  41. darn it
  42. good grief
  43. Goshdarnit
  44. Holy Schnike
  45. oy vey
  46. garbanzo
  47. crud
  48. durn
  49. darn
  50. poodledoo
  51. shut the front door
  52. fiddlesticks
  53. fiddledeedee
  54. Bob Saggett
  55. What in the blue bless?!
  56. Oh. My. Cow
  57. Jeez Louise
  58. Jesus, Mary & Joseph.
  59. Poodle-fruiter!
  60. dad-gummit!
  61. SUGAR MONKEY FUNKY BUTTS!
  62. gee whiz…
  63. ska-douche!
  64. Sugary pops
  65. Peas and Rice!
  66. Dag nab it!
  67. Fudge Buckets!
  68. That sucks!

Goodness! That’s a long list. Every once in a while I’ll get someone who asks me a question about what the Bible says about swearing/cursing/profanity. The truth is that the Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about it.

There are two verses in the Bible that most Xians use to justify a no-profanity position.

a)      Exodus 20:7 – You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…

b)      Ephesians 4:29 – let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.

While these are great verses, neither one is talking about profanity. In Exodus God is commanding the Israelites not to use his name lightly. There is a little bit of ambiguity here, because the Bible never says exactly what it means to take God’s name lightly. It could mean not to use the name casually. It could mean not to use the name to back up your promises (swear to God…). There is no general prohibition here on profanity.

The Ephesians verse seems compelling at a cursory look, but Paul isn’t talking about profanity. In Ephesians he’s talking about not lying, speaking truth, not sinning in our anger, and building people up. In the context of the passage it would seem that “unwholesome talk” is not profanity but is language that seeks to hurt or damage others. The Greek word can literally be translated as “trash.” It’s like Paul is saying, “Don’t engage in trash talk against each other. Use your words to build each other up.”

On top of the lack of biblical direction against foul language we run into the problem of the fluidity of language. That is to say, language changes. What words mean now could be very different from what they meant 300 years ago. So which culture and era do we use as the standard for acceptable and non-acceptable words?

I grew up in a conservative home, where there were very few acceptable alternatives for swearing. I have a very clear memory of the first time I EVER used the expression, “Man, that’s screwed up!” I felt like such a rebel. In our home “sucks” was not an acceptable word. But I remember the first time my mother was so upset about something she declared, “Well that…that just SUCKS!” She doesn’t use it regularly, but she needed to express the depth of her emotion and used that phrase to do it.

In the end it is another case of Xian liberty. If God’s Spirit is convicting you and telling you not to use certain words – DON’T! If you have freedom in Christ to use certain words – FEEL FREE! We just need to make sure that we’re not imposing our freedom (or lack of freedom) on others.

In the end, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Even if I’m free to use words it doesn’t mean that I should flaunt my freedom in front of others. Out of respect for people I can choose to change my language to fit the circumstance.

That’s the Xian thing to do.

And it doesn’t suck.