I’m a Christian…and I swear
Advent. Day 13 of 24
I guess it’s time to explain myself. Some things have happened this year that make me think I should try to articulate why I sometimes use words that may be considered inappropriate for a Christian to use.
First it was the Christian magazine interview about Christians that use ‘vulgar language’, as she put it. When the reporter was asking around as to whom she should talk to about this, she was pointed to me. More than once…
Then it was this interview I did on a podcast called ‘Wikigod’. (You can hear it here. http://www.wikigodpod.com/home/82) For the first time in 82 podcasts, the interviewer felt that he should put a warning of strong language at the beginning of it before people listened and were surprised by what they might hear.
And finally my 14 year-old daughter, though never having heard me swear I hope, knows that I sometimes do.
I guess that was when I realized it’s time to try and spell out how I see no conflict in my life as a Christian who ‘swears’.
But first some disclaimers;
i) I absolutely hate and cringe at anything I view as taking God’s name in vain. So you’ll hopefully never hear me say ‘Oh my God’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ in any other way than out of the deepest respect for God/Jesus. To hear these words as swears to this day makes me squirm.
ii) The language I’m specifically referring to are my use of the words ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’. From this point forward I will refer to these as ‘the s-word’ and ‘the f-word’ for the sake of readers who might struggle with these.
iii) I use these far less than I did 10-15 years ago when I thought swearing made me cool. I’m at least old enough now to realize that ‘cool’ is irrelevant.
iv) I realize that I may be wrong about all of this but that God has grace.
So, with all that said, here goes my attempt at figuring this out. I think there are 5 main reasons as to why I’ve decided this is ok for me;
1. Because I can and I don’t think God cares about if I do or don’t. This might be the same type of question as ‘how can you be a Christian and dance, or drink, or ride your bike on Sunday, or go to movies.’ Maybe it’s an irrelevant question.
2. It’s biblical. I think we’ve sanitized our holy book. Read the Psalms. Read Paul (Did he really say ‘dung’ or does our English translation just curb his language a tad?)
3. It helps un-bottle pressure. There was a recent study done of people experiencing low-level pain. Half the group could swear and the other half couldn’t. The half that could reported a much more manageable experience than those who couldn’t. I’m physically quite sick. Swearing sometimes makes it easier to cope. Sometimes that’s all I’ve got.
4. Sometimes swearing is useful to make a point. Sometimes dropping an ‘f-bomb’ is the only way to wake up a sleeping giant.
5. It’s honest. It humanizes me. One time, a while back, a man was struck and killed in front of our shelter. We brought in a pastor to lead a debriefing prayer time. One guy was so distraught by the loss of his friend and the violence that caused it, that his only prayer was ‘Ah f%#&’. It was the most honest and profound prayer I had ever heard. I will never forget it.
So in this Advent season, while watching the world stay messed up and possibly getting worse, sometimes a swear here or there is all we can muster.
Come Lord Jesus.