Bethany Jett has a dilemma. While reading a copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, she grew uncomfortable with the novel’s crass language and liberal use of God’s name. Feeling convicted, she ultimately decided to stop reading and pick up a book with cleaner dialogue. However, this only served to highlight a different problem, where should Christians draw the line on foul language? As Jett herself discovered, this was not an easy question.
Sharing her insight with CharismaNews, she writes,
“...during my free time, I started reading another book. And this book also has some random cursing, and once in a while will say, “God” (minus the d-word after). And yet this book’s version of cursing doesn’t bother me the same way Green’s book did. But since I said, 'I stopped reading because I don’t like cursing in books,' I feel guilty now for wanting to share a quote out of a book that does have some cursing. Dilemma.”
A dilemma indeed. Some would say that Christians should avoid cursing altogether since, as followers of Christ, it reflects negatively on the Church. More would point to scripture, stating that the Bible gives ample reasons for why swearing can be damaging in verses like Ephesians 4:29 and Proverbs 21:23. Crosswalk editor Kelly Givens even wrote a superb post about how others profanity affected her, noting,
“What starts off as unconscious absorption of foul language and graphic material via the media or our friends often becomes uncontrollable habits that we have a hard time turning off. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he rebuked the Pharisees, saying, ‘You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.’ What comes out of our mouths is often evidence of what’s inside our hearts.”
For my part, I must confess I’m just as torn as Bethany Jett. You see, I’m part of a guy’s group that meets regularly for Christian fellowship and accountability. It’s a place where we guys can let our defenses drop and open up about our struggles. One week, I was in the middle of venting some frustration when I almost swore, but caught myself at the last moment. One of the guys eyed me quizzically,
“You were going to swear, weren’t you?” he said. I nodded sheepishly but he just grinned. “So go ahead and swear. This is a place and time where we can be honest with each other, there’s no point in trying to censor ourselves for sake of appearance.” So I did, we all did, and after some laughs we admitted the crass language was oddly refreshing. It helped us to get comfortable, find God, and admit we needed to do better. We stopped holding back, and let everything go.
So I guess the question remains: Where do we draw the line?
What about you? What are your thoughts on Christians and profanity?
*Ryan Duncanis the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com