Why we did a story on Christians who swear

I felt a little bit like a little old lady (sorry little old ladies!). I sat in the front row of a Christian writers conference in the States, beside my friend Patricia Paddey. One of the speakers swore a bit of a blue streak from the podium. To make her point. To make us laugh. To shock us.

Get the latest issue to get the latest on Christian swearing. Does it matter?
Get the latest issue to get the latest on Christian swearing. Does it matter?

It did all of those things, of course, as  a well-placed cuss word can.

But it got us talking later about the looseness of language we hear more and more amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems to be more okay today than before to swear. We may have actually “tut tutted” a bit as we chatted about it.

When I became serious about my faith in university, I set about to clean up my language. I’m a good Maritimer and we are good at swearing and come up with new ways to do it all the time (sorry Maritimers!).

What I think I hear sometimes, when Christians swear, is the opposite impulse. I find myself suspicious they are adding swear words in on purpose, just as I tried to weed them out– to show they are not constrained by the language police.

I’m not sure I totally get it. And that brings me to…”Foul mouthed and faithful: Why are Christians swearing so much lately?” a feature article in the latest Faith Today. When our intrepid reporter, Patricia Paddey, suggested going deep into the dark world of Christian swearing to answer the question “What’s up with that?” we jumped at the idea. If we’re hearing Christians swear more, you probably are too. Maybe you’ve been pondering this as well.

Read it and let us know what you think (using nice words please).

And yes, if you are a Christian of a certain age, you probably remember that vintage Tony Campolo quote: “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a &#%!. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said &#%! than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.

We still hear you, Tony.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Read Foul mouthed and faithful. Better yet, subscribe today to take advantage of our most recent fabulous deal. 

4 thoughts on “Why we did a story on Christians who swear”

  1. Good article by your colleague on Christians swearing. Two points not addressed: The first is the implicit sense that being cool is an appropriate high value to which any of us can aspire. Worth exploring how that embedded value in Christians may trip them up as they walk out following Jesus. Secondly, as I have struggled over the years with this issue and occasionally using ‘unwholesome’ language which may not be helpful for”building others up according to their needs”, the following reality has been most helpful for me in curbing such language in myself. That is the realization that the most holy, pure, and loving person in the universe has graced me, by taking up residence in my being. I do not want to “grieve the Holy Spirit with whom “I was” sealed”. Neither do I want to be legalistic. But if I grow in keeping my focus on God’s great love and the mission he’s given all of us Jesus followers, not only what comes out of my mouth, but also what goes on in my head and heart, is more likely to be pleasing to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  2. So true! I don’t get cussing at all…. I think it comes back to ‘ everything is permissible, not everything is benificial.’ Once I had kids and heard the words I was saying coming out of their mouth I was encouraged to clean up even more. Our words should be building up not tearing down at every opportunity we have.

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