Why Christians Should Swear More: Because Jesus Probably Did

Why Christians Should Swear More: Because Jesus Probably Did November 6, 2023

Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Look, let’s get one thing straight—words are just goddamn words. 

You heard me right; I’m dropping the G-bomb right in the opener, and we’re only going to escalate from here. Why? Because this sanctimonious notion that Christians should abstain from swearing is not just prudish, it’s fundamentally misguided. And, dare I say, it’s a load of horseshit.

Words are Just Words, Dammit

Remember when you were told that sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you? Well, they were half right. Words can hurt, but it’s not about the specific syllables that come tumbling out of your mouth; it’s about the intention and context behind them. I could say “Bless your heart” in the South, and depending on my tone, I might as well be flipping you the bird.

What Did the Bible Say? Unfiltered Edition

You want to talk about bad words? Let’s go Biblical for a second. Saul calls Jonathan a “son of a perverse rebellious woman” in 1 Samuel 20:30. Look, in today’s vernacular, that’s pretty much “son of a bitch.” Old man Saul wasn’t up for Father of the Year, but he sure as hell knew how to craft a zinger insult.

A Lesson from Seminary: Scholars Shouldn’t Fear the F-Bomb

In seminary, I wrote a paper where I had the audacity to quote a movie that contained the word “f*ck.” I censored it like a good, wholesome, and proper little theologian. My professor? He scolded me. “If we’re scholars,” he said, “we can’t be afraid of words.” If we’re dissecting the philosophy of Descartes, questioning the ethics of Augustine, and decoding the damn Dead Sea Scrolls, we should be able to handle a four-letter word or two.

The Biblical Burns We Tend to Ignore

Jesus wasn’t mincing his words either. When some Pharisees tell him to run because Herod wants to kill him, Jesus basically calls Herod a “fox” in Luke 13:31-32. This wasn’t Jesus saying, “Oh, what a clever little tyrant.” No, foxes were viewed as sly and unworthy. It was a first-century burn. And let’s not forget Jesus’ pet names for the Pharisees: “Hypocrites,” “brood of vipers,” “blind guides,” “children of hell”, or “den of robbers.” You get the gist. Not exactly terms of endearment, are they?

Paul’s Motivational Shitpost

Now, onto Paul, the apostle who penned missives that have, for better or worse, served as fodder for countless Sunday sermons and god-awful motivational posters that adorned your youth pastor’s office in the ’90s. You know the ones—featuring a soaring eagle or a majestic sunset, coupled with a verse like Philippians 3:8 to inspire you to “go the distance for Christ.”

 “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Slap that baby against the backdrop of a mountain peak at dawn, and you’ve got yourself a motivational masterpiece, right? Well, what Bible Drills didn’t teach you is that Paul’s phrasing in this verse has an underbelly that’s as inspirational as shit—literally. The term Paul used can be translated as “shit,” giving his apostolic exhortation a raw, unfiltered edge that your grandma’s King James Version conveniently glosses over.

In essence, Paul knew the power of a well-placed expletive to emphasize a point. In his case, the point was that all worldly things are essentially crap compared to the glory of knowing Christ. So, when you read Philippians 3:8, understand that the inspiration doesn’t just come from the lofty language—it also comes from the shit.

The Double Standard of Ephesians 5:3-4

Let’s pause for a moment and entertain the naysayers. I can hear the keyboard warriors feverishly citing Ephesians 5:3-4 as they read this article. You know, the Apostle Paul’s “clean your room and wash your mouth out with soap” admonishment: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

This is the spiritual gag order that many hold up as the gold standard for how Christians should talk. But let’s get real—Paul’s warning here is not an isolated command to be prim and proper. It’s nestled within a broader context of avoiding immorality and greed, of being a decent bloody human being. So why is it that some folks are more concerned about a slip of the tongue than, say, a slip of ethical conduct?

Before you start quoting Ephesians to censor the lexicon, maybe examine the full scope of what’s “improper for God’s holy people.” Are you equally fervent about combating greed, injustice, and exploitation? If you’re going to hold up Ephesians 5 as a verbal straitjacket, you’d better be prepared to live up to the rest of its expectations. How’s that going for you?

The Superstitious Crap Around ‘Bad Words’

Honestly, the idea that some words are intrinsically “bad” smacks more of superstition than any kind of reasoned theology. It’s like avoiding the number 666 or refusing to walk under a ladder. If you think saying “shit” is going to fast-track you to Hell, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve got bigger spiritual fish to fry.

The Clarity of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’: An Underrated Virtue

Before we cap this off, let’s not overlook what Jesus himself had to say about straightforward communication. In Matthew 5:37, Jesus says, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Anything more than this comes from the evil one.” If you dissect this a bit, what Christ is essentially saying is, “Don’t bullshit people.” Be clear, be direct, and don’t make oaths you can’t or won’t keep. If Jesus advocates for clear-cut communication, why should we dance around our language?

In Conclusion: Swear More, Judge Less

So, the next time someone tells you that Christians shouldn’t swear, maybe let them know that they’re full of it. Words are tools, and like any tool, they can be used for good or ill. Worry less about whether you’re using a scalpel or a chainsaw, and more about what you’re actually building. And if what you’re building requires a well-placed “damn” or “hell,” then hammer that son of a bitch in there.

About Stuart Delony
My hope with Snarky Faith is to incite change no matter how big or small. I want to cultivate conversations that help people to look for new ways to live out their faith. I'm also one of the weird ones who think that God still moves today - we're just looking in the wrong places You can read more about the author here.

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