All in the right context??!
I was reading a blog the other day about Mumford & Sons and someone mentioned them dropping the “f-bomb” (their words not mine) in “Little Lion Man”….there was various mumblings and comments about shock and disapproval especially from one who’s parents are in charge of Vineyard church UK…but one of the comments below the blog really caught my eye and stopped me. It basically said something along these lines
“swearing is like sex and alcohol – all are appropriate in the Christian faith as long as they’re done in the right context”
Alcohol – in the right context – yes, absolutely – not in excess etc. etc. Roll in standard youth work alchol talk here.
Sex – in the right context – yes, again, absolutely, again, roll in standard youth work talk here…
That made me stop and think.
I swear sometimes, yes. I know my young people swear. Do I think it’s right though? No. Why? I don’t know, maybe because I’ve been brought up to believe those words are offensive, that those words are demeaning and degrading, and as a Christian my challenge is to live the best I can, giving the most honour to God that I can.
This also raises a whole other question about what is swearing. Back in the day (1939), the producers of Gone with the Wind were nearly find $5,000 for their use of the word “damn”. Now we have Ron Weasley saying “Bugger” practically every other word and nearly everything after 9pm on t.v. comes with the caveat “may contain offensive language”. Swearing is part of our culture. Who defines what is a swear word? When do swear words enter normal culture and just become language? I don’t have any issue with saying “damn”, but there was a big issue with it seventy years ago….
How we speak and what we say is so, so important as a Christian. Say the right thing and you can win hearts. Say the wrong thing and you might lose someone forever.
The book of James says this:
“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
The tongue is powerful. Language is powerful. Swearing, therefore is powerful.
I don’t think we can decide what is or isn’t a swearword – culture decides that. But, I think as Christians we should recognise that, and do our best to be counter-cultural – to make sure that everything we do, including our language, honours God.
So, swearing in the right context? Me thinketh not….