Cussing Christians: Why I’m with Mark Driscoll on this one

Cussing Christians: Why I’m with Mark Driscoll on this one December 7, 2011

Mark Driscoll gets this one right. Seriously. In my opinion, we ought to have the freedom to use language contextually and not be bound by religiosity. That doesn’t mean that we ought to cuss like a sailor, but words have power… even what our culture considers offensive. (To be clear, I don’t often agree with under-girding theological assumptions that drive his use of foul or provocative language at various times)

I grew up in a context where Paul’s words were oft quoted: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” I wonder what determines unwholesome speech? Does the popular culture? Does the FCC? Nope. The answer comes in the second part of the statement: “…only that which is good for building others up ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS.” This statement both relativizes cussing and invites contextualization. The test, does using this word tear someone down or build up? If it doesn’t tear them down (because it is part of a language they understand) then we ought not live in a legalism that the Scriptures don’t impose.

Oddly enough, in Philippians (3.8) Paul says that he considers all things as “rubbish” or “garbage” or “dung” or “loss” compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus. This word (skubalon***) is only used once in the New Testament. And yes my friends, that word is a first century cuss word.

I do not think that we ought to be known as “cussers” but I do believe there’s something wrong when my non-Christian friends feel the need to apologize when they slip the F*Bomb in the conversation. My response is always: Please, please, please feel free to be exactly who you are around me! Your language doesn’t offend me or make me see you in a bad light. I’d rather get to know the real you.

Finally, as a Christian leader I would avoid using any language that offends people in contexts that it would be a hindrance for the Good News. In Tony Jones’ book, The New Christians, he tells the story of Mark’s gradual dissent from the Emergent conversation. One of the last draws was when Mark, after being asked to not cuss at a guest speaking engagement (for a friend) did the following:

When Brad Cecil invited Mark to guest preach at Axxess Church in Arlington, he explained to Mark that unlike Seattle, swearing from the pulpit in Texas just wouldn’t fly, and he asked Mark to please keep his language clean.  Mark used the F-Word in the first sentence. (The New Christians, 48)

The above story illustrates the wrong way to use language.  Language is contextual.  Mark Driscoll now disagrees with the way he used language at that time, early in his ministry.  He’s repented and apologized to Brad Cecil.  This demonstrates that there are times when certain words that work in one situation are not appropriate for another setting.

So, what do you think about the issue of the occasional cuss word and Christians?  Is this a contextual matter in preaching?  How about in personal relationships?

The point here is to talk about Christians and cussing in a broad way, not simply from the “pulpit.” I hope to hear more about the use of cursing in the ‘everyday.’ Is it wrong?


*** skubalon – In secular Greek this depressing word means rubbish and muck of many kinds: excrement, rotten food, bits left at a meal as not worth eating, a rotting corpse. Nastiness and decay are the constant elements of its meaning; it is a coarse, ugly, violent word implying worthlessness, uselessness, and repulsiveness... The only NT usage is Paul’s in Phil 3:8, where he says of all the natural and religious privileges which once seemed sweet and precious, and all the things he has lost since becoming a Christian, “I count (estimate, evaluate) them as (nothing but) dung.” The coarse and violent word shows how completely Paul had ceased to value them. [New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 1, Zondervan: 1980, pg 480]

Here are more thoughts from him on provocative language…

"The Bible never says he "was born in a barn, accompanied only by his parents, ..."

2 Reasons NOT to ‘Keep Christ ..."
"Okay, didn't realize this was such an old post. Not sure how I ended up ..."

FREE: Missio Alliance Anabaptism Conference Talks
"Looks like it used to be free but the time period on that has expired. ..."

FREE: Missio Alliance Anabaptism Conference Talks
"Seems to only be free for members. Is that correct?"

FREE: Missio Alliance Anabaptism Conference Talks

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Anonymous

    My simple thought about cussing is that it can often be used to express deep human emotions. The best example I think of is Mumford & Sons “Little Lion Man” – “I really f&$#ed it up this time, didn’t I my dear?” Sometimes, only a “bad” word can express how we truly feel. 

    I like this point: “as a Christian leader I would avoid using any language that offends people in contexts that it would be a hindrance for the Good News.” 

    However, it does make me think of Tony Campolo’s famous opener: “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 shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.” 

    • Anonymous

      I like that  you tied in Tony’s quote. That in my opinion is one of the best uses of swearing there is. It was used to shock the audience, then drive home that their focus is on the wrong place. Using foul language for the fun of it, I see no point to it. There are many other words to use instead of them. If you use it for a purpose, then that’s fine. Even if it’s offensive, make sure there’s a purpose behind using that and not another word that is not offensive.

    • @ryanjpugh:disqus … to your point about Campolo… I agree.  Except that in the context he used it he made a point for the Good News… it gave witness to christ rather than hindering him.  Also, that was in a conference setting, not in the small conservative church I grew up in… see the difference?

      • Anonymous

        Yes, definitely. My point was not to disagree with you at all (not sure why I put the “However” in there). I understand your point about context, which definitely applies here, and I see the difference. If he was to use that same opening in a small conservative church, I’m guessing most people wouldn’t be able to get past the bad word to even hear the real point (if he even got to continue speaking). So it wouldn’t really be helping.

    • Koob

      Rough, crude talk is a desperate way to communicate that is used by people who aren’t having much communion with the Holy Spirit. The last place it belongs is in the pulpit.

    • Gary

      Well, if we’re talking about the shock value of words – Campolo has told that one a thousand times, and what’s shocking is that he’s repeating himself so much. That and the one about how he got together a birthday party for a prostitute. He needs new material, and stories where he doesn’t figure as the hero.

    • Brandon Brasseau

      comment to Ryan Pugh…….It’s funny how someone can come
      up with an excuse for anything under the sun. Why does
      anyone, especially a christian pastor or preacher,
      have to use language like that to “express” themselves? The
      bible says in Luke 6:45 that what is in the heart (good or bad)
      is what comes out of the mouth. This “shock treatment” preaching
      is getting pretty tedious. Of course we’ve all said things we
      didn’t mean to say, or maybe we did mean to say , but I know
      when I say a crude or profane thing, I always feel convicted about
      it and ask forgiveness. To say those things and not feel anything
      is strange to me as a christian. If someone can speak routinely
      like that and they never feel any conviction I would wonder why.
      Why not simply preach Jesus and God’s grace,
      and teach people how to take the high road instead of always
      taking the easy way out. Now we’re being told that if we don’t
      like talking trash, we’re not being “real”. The bible says “avoid
      even the appearance of evil”. I believe completely in the
      grace of God but I also think Jesus came to teach us a new
      way to live. (That includes our language)

      • maria perez

        Well said Brandon! Agree 100%

    • Client Advisor

      We are called to Glorify God when we accept Christ into our lives, sorry but cursing doesn’t Glorify God so for me I am offended when I this rhetoric come out of a persons mouth, is sanctification, setting ourselves apart from the world’s sinful way not sought anymore? As for me and my house we will serve to Lord, If emphasizing a driven point means cursing it then it probably isn’t worth being in the conversation. Jesus says:
      And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

      He also say: Romans 12:1-2

      I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

  • James W.

    Definitely contextual — and a word like the “F” word can be used in so many ways. A person who litters their conversation with curse words mistreats their intellect, but one who rightly and timely pulls in a word to accent a point, or to demonstrate an emotion is nothing less than brilliant.

    The legalists will use poor exegesis and turn to scriptures about “not swearing,” assuming that has to have application to what we call today “swear words.” Of course, a little careful hermeneutic should clear that right up.

    Good post.

  • Anonymous

    I almost never use “cuss” words but I don’t really care about other people’s use of them. The F-bomb has little or no power anymore in my own context as I hear it all the time at work and everywhere else so it lacks most of it’s punch. I’m also a snob, I suppose, when it comes to language so I find it tiresome when someone uses any word too often. For me, using the same adjective in the same paragraph is pretty lazy and boring. I do it, too, but I’m never proud of it.

  • I think I swear too much. I work as a manager in a male dominated world and sometimes feel the need to cuss to show I am not a dainty wallflower… sadly it has carried over into non-workday speech.

    My husband says I am less attractive when I cuss. I hate that he sees me that way, so I work at not doing it so much. It is hard to break a bad habit 🙁

    I have decided to be known for how well I do my job versus how well I instruct workers to do perform their jobs…

    Thing is, I find no biblical objection to swearing. I think that is a Puritanical impediment (as well as smoking and drinking) that carried its way West along with the pioneers 🙂

    • Thepagemage

      I try not to swear around my husband for the same reason. Mostly because when I start to swear he starts to swear (and he never used to swear). And we don’t want swear words in our marriage… it’s too easy to call each other bad names… and swear words seem to hurt the worst.

  • Info

    This issue really is love. I Cor. 6:12 wasn’t a joke – Paul under the authority of the Holy Spirit said it may be okay for me to do certain things, but in the best interest of a weaker Christan, we should love them enough to refrain. I’d toss him off the stage if he said that in the church I pastor. We should NEVER model ourselves after celebrity ministers.

  • Jarred Romley

    For the record I think Mark Driscoll is a gay bashing religious zealot who would rather referee a UFC match than show compassion for the least among us….that being said, I agree 🙂


      So, it’s ok to say fuck but not fag?

  • jeff

    To Ryan, if you really believe that Mumford and Sons song really expresses the deep human emotion, why did you feel the need to censor it by saying “f&$#ed” instead of “fucked”

    • @ecb52a134b692b6cb25d9f250e046010:disqus … I think that even on the web, when we have a diversity of views and sensitivities we ought to be wise about the words we use.  I think censoring was appropriate… it still says what it says, but does so with a bit of respect to others who may disagree.  If I use and cuss words on this blog, I typically do the same thing…

    • Anonymous

      jeff, two reasons. One, what Kurt said. Two, it’s not me expressing that feeling – it’s Mumford & Sons. Why would I need to express the same feeling by writing it out in a blog comment (as if that would be close to the same expression as the song) when it’s not my “deep human emotion” being expressed right now? 

      Do you have a different idea of why they used that word? – trying to understand the point of your question.

  • Good thoughts, thank you, Kurt. It’s difficult enough for people to relate to us who don’t choose, talk, think or act the way they feel comfortable doing. The relationships provide the context in which we listen to the Spirit. Calling one another higher, but meeting one another on holy ground of love…

    Funny note: I just translated “that” word literally in a recent sermon, appealing to BDAG, and then used it in my own blog post… LOL.

  • AmyS

    I find that the full range of language is useful and edifying when used appropriately and for a good reason. One of my seminary profs has a famous line that she uses as an illustration every time she teaches the Family Violence course:
    “Some families are more concerned about the fact that the ten-year-old daughter just said ‘fuck’ than the fact that the grandmother is fucking the ten-year-old daughter.” Appropriate use? I think so. And, yes, context is everything in this case. An important distinction that isn’t often made in my cultural context is the differences between swearing, cursing, and so-called cussing. Using coarse language (cussing) isn’t the same as speaking a curse or swearing an unrighteous oath. Maybe the terms are interchangeable  is some contexts, but if we are going to apply scripture to the use of our language, we have to define our terms based on biblical assumptions. 

    • AmyS

      Okay, reading Kurt’s comment below about editing in this context, I would edit my post out of respect for Kurt’s space here. My intention was not to introduce hostility or inhospitality to anyone. 

      I find that this is a challenging traverse for me sometimes, as my personal life as a not-so-proper-lady intersects with my professional demeanor and presence as a pastor. My personal and professional life are not only inseparable but essentially intertwined. So I tend to fall in favor of integrity and genuineness–which means making foibles sometimes. I am still learning how to edit appropriately while not becoming a poser.

      This must be a common challenge for those of us entering formal ministry in this liminal space of precipice and crevice. 

      • @58757ba8ba47d7e22c9fe13375191e5a:disqus … I don’t think that what you wrote was bad at all.  You demonstrated the sort of context in which the use of language makes a potent point.  I’m not offended, I simply think that for the sake of others, I tend to cuss on line more like this F%$& and Sh!+ etc (see my post on Jesus and stereotypes for an example of this).  I am leaving your edit as is because its effective and not offensive or just there to tick people off. 🙂  May I just add that your comment above may be one of the most insightful comments of the day.  Thanks!

  • James W.

    All that said, I don’t think the pulpit is the place for cussing…  our culture has expectations of men who “wear the cloth,” and if we are contextualizing, that should also be considered. Then again, if one is preaching to a group of hardened thugs, such words would not “shock” or “offend” but rather communicate.

    One of the most gripping conversion stories comes from the San Francisco writer, Anne Lamott, when, after a long battle of ignoring the call of Christ, says: “Fuck it, I quit.” One could get the sense that the writer is not seeking to offend, shock or “show how cool they are,” but rather being authentic, true and tastefully use words as art to paint a picture that a dignified word just wouldn’t satisfy.

    • Mlharrislove

      I agree. I think the church’s excessive sensitivity about cussing is badly misplaced and silly – especially given our complete LACK of sensitivity to infinitely more important issues (as perfectly illustrated by the Tony Campolo story above). It is truly an issue of swallowing a camel while attempting to strain out a gnat (did I get that analogy right?… that is how he said it, right?). Makes me want to cuss!

      I also think that carefully abstaining from cussing can give one an illusion of being more moral and upright – an outward “appearance” that has nothing at all to do with one’s spiritual life. It can start to lean dangerously close to Pharisee behavior, in my opinion.

      • James W.

        I think it was Amy who earlier talked about the tension between the extremely informal personal life, and the very polished and formal ministerial life. This weird dichotomy that wreaks of dualism, and the whole sacred-secular false war.

        I was talking to a 20-something in our church recently about a coming series on sexuality. We are always nervous about this serious, fearing it coming off as a moralist’s tirade, and not bathed in the Gospel. He looked at me and said: “I don’t get why you guys are so scared of being real. Talking straight to us. Sugar-coating everything and talking in beautiful abstracts. When I leave this place I will turn on my music, my tv, I’ll chat and text message with friends, I’ll see billboards, go to the mall and share a drink with a friend — all of those mediums and people will not spare the details, the frankness, and the straightness. It’s a language I understand. It bothers me that church folk always try to soften what they are really saying instead of speaking my language.”

        My first reaction was defensiveness (in my mind), thinking that there is a certain dignity that we maintain and keep despite the prevailing culture’s lack of it. Then, I suddenly realized that this young man was exactly right. And I was wrong. Be straight. Be creative, bathe what you say in love, point it to the Gospel — but use their language.

        • AmyS

          I hope to find ways to “use their language” while also calling us all to something more. I mean, we can use denigrating terms to refer to sexuality, and we can buy into (for one) the hook-up mating ritual as normative–even necessary. Or, we can speak hope into a pretty messed up world (and I don’t just mean that it’s messed up for young people. It’s messed up for all of us). I’m not always sure how to walk that line. 

          I recognize that what I just wrote could be misunderstood as a call to chastity, or moral uprightness in the face of a sinful culture–neoprudism. I assure you, that is not what I mean, but I don’t have the language to say what I really mean. I don’t know how to say that it matters a lot, it doesn’t really matter at all, and it matters some–all at the same time. 

          • James W

            I think I hear what you are saying. If we don’t worry about the lines, speak in a way that gives dignity to issues, while not hovering over them with spiritual superiority, pay attention to context and let our hearts be soaked in love — if may be messy, but we’ll be closer to finding our way.

    • AmyS

      our culture has expectations of men and women who “wear the cloth,”… 
      I cannot imagine a time when I would use an expletive from “the pulpit” (and we don’t wear cloths, lol. Clothes? Yes. The Cloth? Not so much), for the same reason that I wouldn’t use it in conversation with my grandmother. It just isn’t befitting my typical worship context. However, I have used language related to sexuality on a regular basis (not as a focus or particular agenda, but as a regular part of real life, like plenty of other things).  But that’s a different conversation. 

  • RobS

    If Christ lives in me, is my language pleasing to Him?  I guess I have to ask myself that.  I’m not going to say I’m a saint about it 100% of the time, and hearing an occasional word is not offensive to me.

    If someone apologies for profuse swearing to me, then maybe they know that I’m trying to reflect that Jesus lives in me.  I think Jesus can/could/did associate with the “rough crowd” just fine and not conform to their culture.  He could be in the world without being a part of it.

    As was said, if the language offends people that (I feel) might hinder the work of Jesus, then I’m going to leave it out.  It can’t hurt.

    • Eric Laycock

      I agree.

      I think that there is a distinction though between how much of the world cusses (ie. throw an F-Bomb there,  drop it here, that guy hurt me so he’s a %$”/!)°!), I hate that teacher so !”$#&/$#”/ much), and how Christians can use cuss words.

      I think saving powerful swear words for a time when they’re really needed would be excellent – the fact that you don’t normally swear will really impress on people the point you’re trying to make when you do swear.

      So, you can swear lazily like the world, not caring what your tongue is setting on fire, or you can build up its power like a Christian and unleash it like a bullet to the heart. There certainly is a difference.

      See James 3.

      • Rob Kirby

        This is the best I have ever seen written on this. Well done.

  • Felecia

    I’ve always considered that anyone who uses a cuss/swear word to make a point is too lazy and/or stupid to make their point intelligently. So far, I haven’t been persuaded otherwise. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    • James W.

      I beg to differ. The writer and speaker have, at their disposal, a complete arsenal of language and words to use. This idea of language and speech being formal and rigid, to flaunt how smart we are, doesn’t show the servant-incarnate nature that our mission should have. I’m a big supporter of us saying things in a fresh way, of studying and educating ourselves to speak as people who are more aware and alive to the information available, and even to have a certain decorum of language. But to restrict the speaker or writer, put him/her in a box, and insist anything outside the box is childish, is itself childish, IMO. 

    • AmyS

      I agree that when we used expletives indiscriminately, they can be a sign of intellectual laziness. But I respectfully disagree that they are always such. 

      Think about the different impact and purpose of the words feces, poop, b.m., raw sewage, and manure. All invoke a variety of images and are useful to communicate a wide range of ideas. I think sh_t should be part of that list as a valuable piece of language. The same goes for sex, intercourse, love-making, to know, screw, hook-up, and a thousand others, including the F-word.Is language always used responsibly and intentionally? Of course not. But, I don’t think it’s fair to say that use of “cuss words” is only born of laziness or stupidity. It could be a sign of communication brilliance and careful thought. As Kurt pointed out, Paul wrote to the Philippians that every worldly thing he had ever lost was skybalon (an expletive akin to sh_t) compared to knowing Christ, and the prophet Isaiah declared to his rebellious idol-worshipping audience that their righteousness was like a beged `iddah (a curse akin to saying a used tampon ). These examples are hardly lazy “cussing.” They are intentional and effective communication.

      [At the risk of making this post too long, I would also challenge you on your simplistic analysis, on the basis that various cultural groups use language in different ways. So, in some cases (and I don’t know your setting) you might be observing a different dialect than you are accustomed to, and the speaker is using familiar words but applying a different set of linguistic rules to their usage. To judge such usage as lazy is meaningless. And please don’t hate on people of low intelligence, they can’t help it.]

    • Thepagemage

      I hate this argument. It makes me mad. So we judge people as stupid who use swear words? That’s elitist bullshit. No wonder people feel judged by Christians. Even the argument that swearing is ok suggests that intellect is involved with whether or not we swear:
      “A person who litters their conversation with curse words mistreats their intellect, but one who rightly and timely pulls in a word to accent a point, or to demonstrate an emotion is nothing less than brilliant.” – James W., about four comments up
      Swear or don’t swear. Drink or don’t drink. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and be wise. I think Mark Driscoll is a douchebag but he’s also a rather effective pastor, which is a lot more than can be said about my non-swearing, non-drinking pastor at my old church (and many other like him).

      But don’t try to imply that you are somehow _better_ than people because you don’t swear. You didn’t get self-control by being a bad-ass Christian. There’s a better chance you’re just less sinless because of the home you were raised and its environment (none of which you can take credit for), than actually controlling your sinful nature as if it wasn’t just habit. 

      IF you think people are stupid who swear, how could a person ever convince you that swearing can be intelligent. Also, since when is intelligence our god?

      • Wilson Jnr Kalama

        you’re just looking for an excuse to say and do anything you want to do without any concern how it affects others. just like so many in this american society you don’t give a flip about others, only yourself. If you truly wanted to be a Christian, i.e., a follower of Christ, you would not say or do anything that 1. brings reproach to HIM; 2, cause others to stumble; 3. and lastly, stand between you and Him. I may be from a 3rd world country, but even us heathens know what a Christian should and should not be. What I see mostly in the states is a lot of egos that would rather justify and excuse their immoral, wrong way of living rather than agree with the Bible. One of the things I hear most is “no one is perfect, we all sin.” used to excuse bad living. man up people. If you’re gonna be a Christian, be a persuaded, converted one. What’s the point of calling yourself a Christian, but you don’t have the lifestyle to back up HIS name? you’re all a bunch of whiners, self-seeking manics who have no real concept of what it means to LOVE Jesus more than yourself. thanks for letting me have my say, even without one cuss word. God bless.

    • smann53

      Amen! My contention is that surely the English language offers a plethora of words that eloquently expresses your emotions without resorting to what the world for the last 2,000 years has considered gutter language. Because it is now popular in music, media and we feel like Christians need to adopt it too? Isn’t this all part of the de-sensitizing and dumbing down of America? I thought we were supposed to be salt and light, not join the current towards depravity just because the world does.

    • Vince Talerico

      Jesus once called self righteous works dirty rags, a Jewish Euphemism for used menstrual rags. This is a pretty strong word. By your criteria Jesus must be lazy and/or stupid.

    • Brandon Brasseau

      I totally agree with what you said, Felecia. Very well put!!

  • I don’t have a problem with the intentional use of language (cussing) for particular contexts, especially when it is the best way to make your point and communicate effectively. However, I do have a major problem with Mark Driscoll’s methods and his frequent misrepresentation of Christ to save his idea of manhood.

  • Maggie

    “dear belovedisms” I love it. Encouraged to know that as a passionate preacher I’ve got found some common ground w/ Mark D.

  • Springbuffer

    To quote a prof at a Christian university, “Once you’ve shoveled shit, there’s no other word for it!”

  • Rickjanzen5

    I appreciate the openness of the conversation here.  I wonder, when Peter, the fisherman, ‘swore’ he didn’t know Jesus, calling down curses on himself, what did he really say?  I can’t imagine it was all clean.  You have already referenced Paul’s use of colourful language.  I don’t imagine that the ‘saints’ were all that much different from us.  At the same time I want to avoid any appearance of agression in my language.  If cussing is going to come across that way I will avoid it.  Otherwise I am not squeamish about letting my hammer know I am offended with it.

    • AmyS

      I’ve been known to curse inanimate object myself. Harmless. 

      • Mlharrislove

        Definitely harmless… Has absolutely no effect on their behavior!

        • AmyS

          I find that a simple “damn you, stoplight” is an ironic way of reminding myself that life is too short to get worked up, and that it might do me well to leave a little more time to get from one place to another. And, it lets off a little steam while doing no harm.

          I also find, and folks may find this hard to believe, that such a statement is actually a reflection on a spiritual reality: A stoplight is only a thing, but it represents a desire for safety and order in the world. It represents the human drive to both control and to be controlled. It represents humanity’s feeble attempts at managing the risks of life. It represents so-called progress and industry and the crowded conditions of city life. So, as I “damn” the stoplight, I say “damn it all”–all that endangers human life, and motivates us to control others and to grasp for power, because of mortal fear. When I expose that fear to the light of love, and the hope of salvation, it is damnable. I thank God that there is far more to life than busy schedules and reckless drivers and steel and concrete. I thank God that life in the Spirit, and life in the body of Christ, is ours now and will be–even more fully–in a time still to come. I thank God that our need for fear and self-protection will soon come to an end, and forever.

          Sure, cursing the stoplight is unnecessary. But so is a lot of the silly stuff we do. The question is: How do we interact with an incarnated God? How does our humanity relate to God? How do we interpret the damnable truths of life here and now?

  • Alan Molineaux

    Given that Mark Driscoll preaches in his own church most weeks how can he make the preposterous statement that most church leaders preach safe messages.

    There are many ways of being provocative without using certain words (not that I mind this)

    I prefer those preachers who speak out on egalitarian issues bringing true freedom.

    Mark has criticised other preachers in order to justify his own position.

    He cannot know what most other preachers are doing. Just because the rest of us are not in the public eye it doesn’t mean we are not preaching messages that make a difference.

  • Amen.  Cuss words have strong meaning…if strong meaning is attached.  I can say ‘bloody’ all day long, and it has no meaning to me, even though it might make an Englishman blush.  It’s not what comes out of a man’s mouth, but what comes out of his heart that makes him unclean.

  • JustaBibleGeek

    Using course language is kind of like smoking.  You will never offend
    someone for not doing so, but you may offend someone for doing so.

    So there are a few questions we should ask ourselves before using explicit language.

    First of all, who is your ministry? 
    I think it really does depend on the context of the crowd you are in, and the meaning behind the words.  Words have no meaning on their own, but we give them meaning.
    Trust me, you can talk about sensitive issues without using curse words, my family has done it.

    Secondly, how do the words you say make you feel and think?  If what you are saying is driving a wedge between you and God or you and other believers, then it is a problem.  And that holds true for any language, not just cussing.  You can use flowery language to lead someone away from Christ, or swear words to bring them closer.  Philippians talks about how we should think on things that are true, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy.  Is your speech doing that?  Now sometimes things that are true are not always admirable and praiseworthy but still need to be said.  But the question should always be “Am I bringing glory to God by saying this?”

    Lastly, you have you ask yourself this; Is it worth it to offend some to bring others to the Lord?  And also, am I comfortable with the perceptions people will have of me if I cuss?  Because course language will offend people.  And some people will view you in a negative light because of it.  So you have to make sure that it is worth it to bring others to Christ.

    • Clean2602

      I would say that I don’t totally agree with your first comment. There are some contexts and communities where people do get offended when people say thing’s in a way they don’t understand. What I mean by that is, language is powerful and even speaking proper English will make others feel like you’re putting them down or think you’re better than them because they can’t understand. So you can offend people without using course language, even if you’re not trying to. It’s more important that we be sensitive to the context and be bilingual and speak to them in the language they can receive the message we are trying to give them.

      • JustaBibleGeek

        People may get offended if you say things in a way that they don’t understand, but you can simplify your language without cussing.  Bilinguality is different.  I have several international friends and I think that cussing would actually hurt in those situations because they do not understand the context.

          But my friend and I have discussed “dumbing” language down quite a bit because we both have large vocabularies.  There are two sides to the argument.  The one side is this using plainer language is easier for most people to understand.  But on the other hand, as the word “dumbing” implies, simplifying language because you don’t think that someone will understand you is rather patronizing to them.  I have to define words I use sometimes, and most of the time I do so in a contextual way without being asked if I realize I’ve used a large word.  But I would rather do that then simplify my language because I feel like that would be insulting and a lot more offensive then using small words so that they can understand me.

    • Helenleckie

      I think it is possible to offend by not swearing. In certain circumstances.
      I work in mental health and deal with a huge range of people, and need to get rapport going quite quickly. One very powerful way to do this is by reflecting back the words the other person uses. If someone says ‘I feel like sh*t’, then saying ‘like sh*t?’ back to them seems to work better than ‘why do you feel so bad?’, as there is an implied judgement in editing another’s words, especially when the word they’ve used is more extreme – it can come across as minimising their feeling.  It’s not a word I would use in normal conversation, but if someone’s distressed and sensitive to that sort of thing, it’s not the time to address their language or be prissy about my own.

      But it’s not the only way of building rapport, and it would be possible to do it without using the same vocabulary. But if the word used is not blasphemous or derogatory, and not using it puts up more barriers to a positive relationship when using it removes them, then I think that swearwords are occasionally indicated.

      • Rob Kirby

        Perfectly stated.

  • In agreement almost totally, but I think there are probably some words that should be almost entirely out of bounds. I don’t want to be legalistic about it, but there are some cuss words I can think of that really would not build up or edify anyone hearing them.

  • Erinthomas 1978

    I agree with Driscoll, but dammit… I do not agree with his theology. If he wants to look cool in his jeans while cussing, that’s his business. I’d rather he deal with issues about LGBT and women in ministry. Sorry… rant.

    That aside, many of the comments have focused on “the biggies”: damn, oh gawd, f**k, the “S” word, etc. Don’t get me wrong. I do swear on occasion, and usually in what has already been referenced as the ‘Campolo method’. What I would like to draw some serious attention to is the easy language that makes us sound cool, but still have deep, abiding violent overtones and mean some very dangerous things to real people in real life. Perhaps that’s because my vocation is with trafficked people, and my heart’s with youth, but when we talk in terms of: “that’s so pimpin…”, or “she’s so pro”… or “you my ho!”… or “who’s ur bitch?”… and we laugh about it, reference pimping to sporting our cars, or being “pro” as “professional”, we don’t get yet that these aren’t historical or passe references we’re using.I’d rather a non-believe drop the F-bomb on me in a true conversation, that anyone start singing or talking about someone being a “ho”… or “how cool that pimp is”. A pimp is a violent, controlling individual who will go to almost any lengths to subvert the humanity of a man, woman or child for sexual and monetary purposes. A “ho” is a whore… usually referencing a woman thought to be a sleaze. 

    Why are these culturally popular terms perfectly acceptable even in church situations, when they are ACTUAL terms used in society to turn a profit in a lucrative trade? Sorry… that is seriously f**ked up.

    • AmyS

      Insightful comments. I totally agree that we do violence with our language in many ways that do not fall into the typical four-letter word. I am not particularly strict with my kids (I have 5 teenagers of my own) about their language, but there are some things that are never acceptable in our home. I particular, I hate casual references to or glorification of exploitation, and dehumanization of others. I am particularly aware that in my context terms like “white trash” and “gangsta'” get used very casually and pejoratively. I don’t let that slide by without comment (to the embarrassment of my kids sometimes). I am particularly offended when young white kids from wealthy families make jokes about being “ghetto” or “slumming” etc., and they’ve never probably even seen a real slum, and the comments are actually intended to highlight how “nice” their things actually are. That kind of speech disgusts me far more than any f-bomb.

      All the same, there are times when even those words are appropriately used in satire, in order to highlight injustice and social inequality (but that’s not what I see most often). 

  • andrew

     What I disagree with is that if I don’t cuss, drink, or smoke that I am somehow not enjoying my freedom in Christ. Sure it’s okay but it doesn’t mean I’m required to do them to understand grace and freedom. That’s my problem with the argument most of these times, which is generally coming from a younger crowd telling me I need these things to truly understand God’s good gifts in life.

    • @375e2195bab63a00205cb3b035de9b0d:disqus … Not only did I not say anything like that but I would never say that.  cursing, drinking, and smoking don’t lead to following Jesus.  My point (only about cuss words) is that even Scripture uses a curse word (of the day) to make a dramatic point (when its helpful).  Also, nothing in Scripture condemns *words* but rather the condition of our hearts is what matters.  Also… a cuss word to one person may be a regular word to others.

      • Dan

        “cursing, drinking, and smoking don’t lead to following Jesus.”
        I know C.S. Lewis smoked pipe tobacco. Is it possible he followed Jesus? Maybe the same can be said for a few others? I’m glad God is the ultimate judge, because you guys make up stuff as you go like Pharisees.
        Would it surprise you that I lead someone to Christ over months and months of time, listening to their problems, loving them, showing compassion for them, telling them about Jesus, and all during “smoking breaks” at work? And yeah, maybe we both used “barnyard language” at times too. Would it surprise you that this person said what made the difference was the constant love and “being real”. And yes, we’d talk about quitting smoking too. But you aren’t separated from Christ because you have a bad habit that is socially unacceptable. Thank God for the grace of Christ!
        As far as the Bible goes, and I’m no scholar, there is a difference between taking the Lord’s name in vain and cussing. Different words go in and out of style and have more or less meaning at any given time. I worry more about offending people needlessly. Of course smoking isn’t in the Bible, and drinking should be done in moderation. So is it possible to be a follower of Christ, and have told someone today “That’s damn shame!” while smoking a cigarette with them, and later you have a glass of wine at dinner? Is that possible Biblically speaking? Not whether this was allowed in the church you grew up in, or something your family or friends wouldn’t do. Do you close the gates of heaven on these kinds of “Christians”?
        The “clean” Christians feel these guys are bring the church down. These guys are constantly feeling the judgment of the “clean” Christians. What’s the answer?

    • AmyS

      Respectfully, Andrew, I don’t ever hear anyone saying that. Is the “younger crowd” really saying that you must do these things? I have never heard such a thing. Not here, nor elsewhere. To arbitrarily say that one must, is no better than arbitrarily saying that one must not. Freedom isn’t about what one does or does not do. It’s about being released from slavery and being able to choose. If one *must* choose to swear or curse (neither of which is being advocated here) or to use coarse language (something that might be useful in certain circumstance for certain people), then one no longer has freedom.

      Paul is pretty clear on this point: “Eat meat,” or don’t, according to your own conscience. It’s an arbitrary rule that only affects the one who feels internally compelled to follow it. Don’t let anybody tell you to defy your own conscience. That’s between you and God. If you eat meat, while convinced that you should abstain, you sin. Again, Paul says that intentionally increasing in sin, just so that God can give more grace in return, is a foolish endeavor and antithetical to the good news. If anybody is preaching that, tell them to shut up and go away.

      I know Kurt well enough to say that he sides with Paul. Don’t do it if your conscience tells you not to.No brainer. If you’re hearing another message here, you might be adding something between the lines that is neither being said nor intended. 

    • AmyS

      Oh ya, one more little thing… Some of the most rigid conservatives I know are traditional university undergrads. Some of the most broad thinkers I know are over 70. I’m in my 40’s. 

      As Christians, we should be squarely against the villainization of persons or groups of persons based on arbitrary criteria such as age or gender or race. 

  • Holtfam

    what a sad day…I have an idea of how a pastor could get the attention of the crowd…carry the heart and mandate of Jesus…pray for the sick and actually heal them, according to James 5:14. That could result in praise to God rather than cursing to draw attention to ones self.

    • Jesusmarvelite3

      THIS, man. THIS. Finally, someone with some sense. THANK YOU.

    • Justthefact1

      The apostles had more of these gifts than did others ..the spirit gives each one their own gift/s not all can heal and preach and this IS biblical. This is why many do not just “Pray for the sick and actually heal them”

      12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

      4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

      7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

  • Ff Stone

    Cussing is a weakness and a sign of ignorance. In today’s world, people can be a light in the world or portray darkness. Darkness is anything that turns people away from the light. People are waching us, how we act, what we say, and the image we portray is crucial in the fight against darkness. Are you going to drop F bomb and invite someone o church in the same senence. If not, you are wrong. If so, you are confused!

  • Keaton

    I may be wrong, but which Driscoll are you agreeing with? I do not think he accepts any form of cussing anymore, unless a lost Spurgeon letter was found declaring cussing permissible.

  • Rafgonz

    Romans 12:2 “do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renueing of your mind.” If you really need curse words to express the passion you have for the gospel then you might need a little reigniting of the spirit within you, or even a wider vocabulary for that matter. I can understand not condemning an individual within person conversation, but to take on a position of spiritual leadership representing God in front of X amount of people coming from multiple demographics and spouting out profanity just so people pay attention? Sounds a lot like dependence on technique and self for success and very little dependence upon the holy spirit using you to convey Gods message and convict the hearts of those who are listening.

    • AmyS

      Did you happen to miss the bit about contextualization? 

      I don’t need curses to express my passion for the gospel. But, curses are sometimes useful when referring to the state of the world today, or the effect of sin on humanity, or the pain of still waiting for Christ’s return. If curses seem too strong, maybe you haven’t been face-to-face with evil. 
      I don’t know you, so I won’t make assumptions about your life experience. But, when I think about the events surrounding Penn State, curses seem to be the only language strong enough to convey the anguish in my heart. I am too close to real people who have suffered the monstrosity of evil that I will not edit out what paltry language I have to approximate the horror of such acts. 

      These are conversations that are mostly better left for small groups and private meetings, not large presentations to a general audience. 

      Am I arguing for arbitrary and gratuitous peppering of expletives to spice up an otherwise boring sermon? If that’s the case, I’ve got bigger problems than simply too much latitude in my vocabulary. But if you’ve actually read the conversation here, I don’t think you can say that’s what anyone here is calling for.

  • Bettie Colson

    All this talk about “cussing”; I believe the word is an altered form of  “cursing”. Maybe if we thought of these words as “curses” it would help to determine their proper use. Is it ever right to curse? It is said that Jesus cursed the fig tree but I don’t believe that he used “cuss words” to do it. And just because we consider a word to be a cuss word doesn’t mean it is to someone else. That is a cultural determination. Commonly used words in one culture are cuss words in another. (I live in Guatemala and the difference in Guatemalan and Mexican Spanish is largely that.)

    Let’s be consistent in our expression.  As James said, “Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.” 

    My point is that we can accomplish the same thing with cuss words or without them. We can wound people with elegant phrases or heal people with common expressions. I would prefer to use words, crude or elegant, considering exactly what they mean. If  you want to refer to feces, go ahead and say shit. But let’s say what we mean.

  • I’m sure it’s in these comments already (at least I hope it is) but when Paul called everything bullshit for the sake of knowing Christ, he was not wrong in that view, and he was not wrong in expressing it that way.

  • Ryan

    honestly, I don’t think there is such a thing as a “bad” word. Different languages and different cultures often have radically different ideas about what is a “bad” word, which just goes to show that the whole concept is just an arbitrary social construct.  I really don’t give a shit about arbitrary social constructs that deal with value statements like “good” or “bad”. 
    That being said, there is inappropriate use of language, such as lying, or deliberately using stronger language purely for shock value, or, I would add, deliberately using weaker language to hide the truth. 

  • Here’s my 3min video clip of why I use naughty words. And I love Jesus. And he loves me back. Potty mouth and all.,

  • Helenecombs

    Yeah. It’s all in the hearing and not offending the weaker brother/sister, and bearing with the scruples of the weak and what not. So, I cuss whenever the life context allows me to. It keeps me humble.

    But, if I can only speak to myself or those with my understanding, what good am I. I also must speak to those who don’t “get it.” So, I have to give up my freedom to cuss for the love of people.

    So, I try to be sensitive to the listener. My brother doesn’t seem to hear anything unless it’s in the form cussing. So, I have to punch him a few times and cuss him out or he simply doesn’t feel loved.  crazy? He spent most of his adult life in prison. It’s their mother language:)

    Other people I know are so anxious, I don’t want to stress them out with my freedom.  It doesn’t hurt me to love them and put their rathers ahead of my own.

    Great topic. I’ve thought about this one a lot.

  • Monkey Toes

    I agree that it is perfectly fine when expressing an emotion – it gives it a sense of deep emphasis that can only be described when using a word that’s off limits in normal conversations.  When you utilize it too much it looses its value. 

  • Again with the cussing!  Funny, it seems this topic keeps coming up in these last couple of weeks.  I read two recent posts on the topic that then inspired me to write my own.  It’s almost strange enough to say “WTF?”,  but I’d be missing the point, wouldn’t I?  

    Thanks for you post, I think it sheds some very useful light on the topic, both in terms of not being legalistic and not being careless.My aforementioned contribution to the onslaught of Christian blogs touching on the subject:

  • All I can say is Mark Driscoll makes me cuss. He’s arrogant and a bully. 

  • Since Kurt tweeted about a Biblical view, let me add one idea from the Ephesians 4:29 verse used.  I see that verse at a bit higher level maybe — I don’t see how it relativizes cursing or invites contextualization.  The second part about building up according to needs — I can’t see how the “according to needs” phrase makes cursing relative.  I should not be tearing someone down (we all agree I think there).  So if I’m building someone up, then do I need (am I permitted) to curse about it?  I can do a reasonable job without it I think.  I don’t think I need to have liberty to use curse infused language.

    I’m no word scholar, but the other one from Philippians 3:8 — a unique word for sure, and translated as dog dung, dung, scat, garbage, refuse, feces, poop or many other words.  We can use any of those in society today to point something out and clearly identify what’s being said.  If there’s reliable sources that point toward the word used as only being used in a vulgar sense then we should consider those (not sure where they are).  The 21st century has a dozen words that can be used and some are appropriate for kids and a few definitely aren’t — but we all can understand what’s being talked about.  Just being used once in Scripture doesn’t necessarily qualify the intensity of the word (that I can see).

    I also think, Paul wrote the word, and he’s an intense guy, but would a former Pharisee now follower of Jesus, looking to educate, teach, and edify his readers use an offensive term knowing that it may cause distaste?  He was sensitive to ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ believers and reading aloud his letter in Philipi to old ladies and young kids… would Paul have used that type of language?  Is it his character/mission/outreach to glorify Christ?  It’s hard for me to see it as a true tasteless (in mixed company style) curse word.

  • Ian

    I find it funny that this post has generated more comments than any other from the past month or so. I think Tony Campolo was right… shit. 

  • KingsofZion

    formerly posted as helenelaine

  • KingsofZion

    formerly posted as helenelaine

  • AliveinSeattle

    If   the skillful use of  raw language is necessary to manipulate crowds into “paying attention” to Jesus, than join the people using any means to sell a “product”.  I get it why Driscoll is sick of religion and its trappings, he has invented another set of trappings that appeals to a set of people burned out on religion.  I don’t find throwing a few cuss words is any more authentic than saying thee and thou if the ultimate purpose is to manipulate.   Be advised though there are cults like the former Children of God that had women wear see through tops to get men’s attention for Jesus, the moved on to prostitution for Jesus too and at that time in the sexual revolution it was all so very relevent and very attention getting.  Sex sells Jesus too….

      The Apostle Paul said if people teach Christ out of pretense or truth it doesn’t matter as long as Christ is preached on the other hand I am aware of shipwrecked survivors of the Children of God.  Supposing one form of manipulation more authentic than another though is just judgment wrapped in a disguise.  And at this point I don’t much care as long as he does not use the power he has to oppress anyone.  No one ever said Driscoll isn’t persuasive, but those powers are not necessarily the measurement of truth telling. 

  • Lroy479

    I think it is intellectually lazy, and it is offensive to me to hear a Christian use foul language. The English language provides many words to convey passion and strength, and a dignified response well presented is far better than some heated use of expletives; which destroy the message.  Wise as serpants, gentle as doves. Christ in me, the Holy Spirit is grieved when I am conformed to the world standard; He has so much more for us and desires to have us reflect HIM. I am married to someone who NEVER retorts or resorts to a curse word; and he is a stud in my eyes and in others because he is strong in Christ and gentle; and consistant in his actions……he overcomes with Godly wisdom and gentle appropriate action. I strive to be more like him, and sincerely to reflect Jesus, wise and articulate, and restrained by a gentle spirit.

    • Anonymous

      Lroy479, perhaps being offended isn’t the worst thing in the world.

      Also, you say that the English language provides many words to convey passion and strength. Might be true, but I still contend that sometimes it’s a “dirty” word that conveys the depth of a human emotion the best. See my example of the Mumford & Sons song in my first comment below. 

      “But it was not your fault but mine and it was your heart on the line. I really messed (or jacked or screwed or botched or goofed or… you get the point)  it up this time” really doesn’t portray what the singer is expressing with “f&$#ed it up this time” does it?

      What exactly is the “world’s standard” that you say we conform to by using a cuss word? Maybe re-read the part of Kurt’s post where he talks about Paul’s use of a cuss word… it’s in scripture. I’m not saying, like Kurt isn’t saying, that we cuss whenever and wherever, but an intentional “bad” word, used in the correct context, can make a point.

    • KingsofZion

      I see your point. It can be intellectually lazy and probably a bit emotionally immature to cuss when other words are more appropriate in a given situation.

      The post seems to carry the theme of being careful not to equate cussing used as a descriptive adjective (not cursing someone) with say the spirit of murder or the habit of sexual immorality.  It also causes some cognitive dissonance to those with legalistic tendencies.

    • engourdi

      Curse words came from the English language. They are part of the English language. They are WORDS. You wouldn’t call someone lazy for saying “smart” instead of intelligent. But they are lazy for saying “shit” instead of “feces”.
      It’s just brainwashing invented by humans. Guess who invented words! We did. As a a form of communication. In my mother’s language, “feces” is called “shit”. So are they lazy b/c they use that to communicate using the restroom, instead of saying “feces”?

    • freetobelieve

      The world knows its wrong and christians in their heart knows its wrong. Thats why the world stops and apologies for it. This is why the church is in trouble. Wrong is right. Since we are taking scriptures to the test.How about abstain from even the presence of evil. Come on just the fact we are even addressing this issue makes cussing wrong for a believer.

  • I haven’t read through all the comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating something that has already been shared.

    The most gifted communicators don’t need to resort to coarse language to get people’s attention.  Using  “coarse language” is lazy and a cheap trick.  It’s an easy sucker punch used to get people’s attention.  In my opinion, it comes across as extremly arrogant and nonsensical, much like a jr higher who inserts an F bomb just for shock value. 

    The people that are the most provocative, who get others really thinking about faith and faither matters, are the ones who can communicate a clear message that speaks to the hearts and minds of others.

    But, God did once speak through an ass.  Just sayin’.

  • I would like to believe that rather than our tongues saying things to make an impact, that we would first seek to live in, use, and reflect the power of God. I believe in that context the point we truly desire to make will actually come to pass.

    I always find it interesting that the quote by T. Campolo is used in terms of justifying cussing. I have seen it in that context several times. In fact the only time I see that quote brought up is in reference to cussing. I would say a vast majority of the people that wax poetically over his point, never even took the time to hear the rest of what he said. Which makes his point and shoots him in the foot at the same time.

    But it makes for a great story.

    I am not a legalist at all but I also don’t believe purposeful cussing is a work that reflects the salvation we receive by grace. Is it really honoring God? I am not expecting a new Christian to be suddenly perfect, but a man that understands that teachers will be held highly accountable for their words should be quite mindful of what he is teaching.

    I think sometimes we try so hard to be relevant that we forget that God, as He is, is completely relevant and doesn’t need me to use choice words to express His words.

    • AmyS

      The oft quoted sermon by Campolo is a good example of strong language used well because so many of us remember it. How many sermons can the typical life-long churchgoer remember and summarize 24 hours later, let alone years later? 

      I completely disagree that he shoots himself in the foot. The quote was not a side note of the sermon. It was not a cheap ploy to hold the group’s attention. It was a masterful use of language, to not only summarize and emphasize his whole sermon, but to send listeners away with something to really think about. Years later, not only do his original hearers remember the core of the lesson he preached, but many thousands more know it too. The rest of his sermon (the one I know of, and I think he has used that quote more than once), was filled with examples of those who care more about the poor, sick, and disenfranchised than defining the specific boundaries for decent vocabulary. As a preacher, myself, I would be thrilled that so many people have heard and discussed and reflected on the word of God as communicated in a single sermon, summarized in 2 unforgettable sentences. 

      Does that mean I will use lots of curses and expletives in my preaching? Hardly. But I will use strong language when necessary, when it is good for the parties involved, and when the biblical text calls for it. I hope that at least one of my sermons communicates as enduring and memorable a message as Dr. Campolo did in those 2 sentences. Maybe that’s too much to ask for. Certainly, I would not ask to be on par with Paul–who wrote repeatedly and coarsely about male genitalia, and used curses to make his point. How about Gal 5:12? “Why don’t you just castrate yourselves?” Many argue well that Paul was not just using straight talk. He was using wry humor (potty-mouth much, Paul?). In context, he basically says, If you’re going to cut off a little skin and think that makes God happy with you, why not cut off the whole meat and potatoes too. Won’t God be super pleased then?  Talk about a memorable message. Can Paul be an example to us for Christian leadership and discipleship, except when it comes to using coarse language? How foolish! Whoops! That was a curse.

      [Word of warning: I don’t think a rookie preacher should try such things. One must master the “rules” first in order to break them later. Heed this warning, or you may end up looking like a jackass.]

      • I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts Amy.  And I appreciate that you can respectfully disagree.  I debated about responding, but I felt that there was a couple of points worth thinking about via typing, and if anything will hopefully bring me to a greater understanding of the situation, and our God.

        First, it should be said, that I am not a religious person.  I love laughing, having joy, and making stupid jokes with fart noises.  At times I do them at inappropriate moments, and at other times, it is those very moments that take an awkward situation and make laughter come about.  I am not perfect, and I do not hold people to perfection.  What I try to do is be more like Christ, by falling more in love with God, and loving my neighbors.  The Holy Spirit convicts, and I repent (most of the time), and I know I am forgiven.  

        That is one of the many things I hope to model in discipleship.

        Now that you know a bit more about me, maybe my comments will be a bit more in context.

        You pointed out that Campolo’s sermon is often quoted.  Just out of curiosity, when do you see it most quoted?  In terms of cussing, or in terms of the marginalized?  I can speak for me and what I see, which is its’ constant usage in conversations about Christians cussing.  It is always used as a defense.

        Speech 101 teaches that the one liners and jokes should add to the points, not make the points.  That is what I mean by shooting himself in the foot.  He is right, many people there were probably more concerned about his language.  I know the first time I watched the video many years ago, I chuckled and said, “did he just say that in church?”  I missed the other points.

        Which is making my point.  He wasn’t writing a letter to churches that were going astray in religion.  He was filmed, speaking in front of peers, which all use modern media.  His points can be taken out of context.  His whole sermon can be narrowed down to a youtube video, put into slow motion, with canned clapping in the background.  I am sure many people that have listened to that one liner have investigated to find out more about his point and his love for serving the poor.  But I am sure many more told the story, “guess what I listened to today? A Pastor said…”.

        So often we focus on the words we use, because we fundamentally believe that our words are what get people closer to, or people further from, heaven.  I am so often guilty of this.  Yet, you can see for example with the Ephesians, Paul got tired of using words in public.  He got tired of trying to make awesome arguments and “sermons.”  He went to those that wanted to know Jesus, and he gave them that what he knew.  It is not words that do the work, but rather the Holy Spirit working through the man.  And how awesome is God’s grace, that he would use people like me, who used to cuss like a sailor, do drugs, and wind up in drug treatment… for HIS GLORY.

        This is not just a matter of writing a good blog or preaching a good sermon.  This is a matter of becoming more like Christ, through becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.  When we talk about adults, cussing is something that we “deal with.”  Yet, when we hear our kid drop their first cuss word, suddenly we want to grab the soap and go nuts.  Why?  Because that child is a God given disciple within our home.  Our spirit recognizes the intrinsically incorrect nature of a cute little kid dropping bombs.

        When we start talking in terms of discipleship, instead of amazing sermons, what we model becomes very important.  How we live in love of our God, our Father, is what is modeled as light to this world.  A world that is lost.  We can allow lost people to be lost, by accepting them “as is” and not putting religion on them.  We, as Christians should however be sharpening one another towards being obedient to God’s process of sanctification.

        To me, there is such a difference between strong language and bad language. One Jesus clearly used in the Bible, the other I have no evidence of.  Paul did not use curse words, he used offensive words, and he used them to believers.  We may be arguing semantics in this day and age, but surely those that received the letters would not.  They knew exactly what he was saying, because circumcision was not a dirty little topic.  It was a real issue that actually separated relationships and required a meeting of the pillars in the Church, to see what God was saying.  Paul and his ministry had been personally effected by the religion that people were living in.  It caused people like his believed to be blood cousin Barnabas to separate from him over differing opinions.  To me, Paul is reflecting the same type of anger that caused Jesus to flip over tables.  Religion kills, Jesus saves.

        One more point. There is a moment in Phillipians when Paul relates his former losses to excrement in comparison to what he has found in Christ.  So often we say he used the same dirty word Campolo used.  Yet, when people do a word study that is one of the potential options.  The closer translation is probably “crap,” which for some is even offensive.  (I cringe even writing the word because some that read this may find it offensive…) Why can we say that this word was used instead of the other option?  Because the same word was actually used for trash, poop, and table scraps during that time period.  People got it then.  He didn’t need to use curse words… His point on salvation from Jesus Christ was making the point for him.

        1,000 + words later I meant to only write a little, and maybe I wrote too much.  Thanks for your time.  I know I definitely thought through some things this morning.

  • Joe Brock

    I’m astounded we are even having this conversation. It seems that somewhere in this debacle, someone should seek Christ’s opinion. I am certain He holds a view on this. All of these comments are on what ‘we’ as Christ-followers think. I am most interested on what God Himself thinks. And please dear people don’t assume that all that have commented know Christ well enough to know what He thinks. We can minimize our walk to a rational journey, or, we can simply get to know Jesus personally enough to let His heart rise in ours. From here we will know what God feels on subjects like this. Mark Driscoll is a man, period. He is not a superstar, he is not a definer of a culture, he is just a man. To look to him or any man to define my God is idolatry. God through Christ opened the door so we can actually know Jesus in such a way that questions like the one being discussed, can actually be answered by Jesus Himself. Too much assumption that ‘God is okay with this’. Why don’t someone be still long enough to let Him speak for Himself. 

    • Jason x

      Well said!

  • Donna

    It is A sin to use bad language…there is A difference in using bad language…And no one better never use the F… word in front of me for I will tell them I do not want to hear that kind of language that is the most filthy word ever… May the Lord forbid those people who use’s it..also swearing is one of the ten commandments thou shalt not take the Lord thy God in vain…also meaning other words as well..If you think swearing is ok you need to have A Talk with the Lord and also read your Bible for even says in the Bible what comes out of your mouth but filth is wrong…And if you are one of those people who believes once saved always saved that is not even in the Bible for you can always fall from Grace…here is what Jesus and Paul says about swearing…
    Jesus said: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45, American KJVPaul said: “the poison of asps (an asp is a deadly viper) is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” Romans 3:14, American KJV

    • AmyS


      If you don’t want to use or hear specific words, then don’t. But, in my estimation (which is not the final word–obviously), the 3rd commandment is not about whether or not we should or should not say the F word (or other similar vocabulary). It’s about how we “use” (both speak and represent) the name of the Lord.If you read the 3rd commandment as a command against swearing in the name of the Lord (aka, promise or take an oath), then it has nothing at all to do with using “curse words” (such as the F word). It has more to do with claiming authority to speak for God or make a promise on God’s behalf, when one has not been given that authority.If you read it as a command against cursing in the name of the Lord (aka, to dishonor/slander, to wish evil upon, or to invoke a charm or incantation to bring evil upon someone) then it also has nothing at all to do with using “curse words” (such as the F word)–unless we use them as part of a curse–something more along the lines of “[May] God damn you” or “go to hell.”  If you are taking it as a command against blasphemy in general, then one can “take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” without using “curse words” or any specific words at all. In fact, what blasphemy does is turn the name of the Lord into a “curse word.” And that seems closer to what the commandment is speaking about.The church is guilty of this many ways, without ever using a “curse word.” We behave in evil ways that misrepresent the Lord our God in ways that are a blight and a curse to the world. We make promises in God’s name that we have no right to make. We slander others, taking the authority of God as our mantle. We use our prayers and worship traditions as incantations and spells, believing that the words and ritualized actions themselves are magical. In all of these ways, we take the name of the Lord our God in vain, and we never have to say the F word or any other “curse word” to do so. [The Greek word that Paul uses in Romans 3:14 is not about using certain bad words, but about praying for evil to happen to someone else (either praying to the Lord or to another).]

      • AmyS

        Kurt,I can’t figure out why paragraph breaks sometimes don’t remain after posting.Can I use code to retain them?This post is a test.Let’s see if it works.

  • Anonymous

    To my knowledge, I don’t think I have ever been unclear, misunderstood, thought of as irrelevant, inauthentic or out of touch, or failed to adequately communicate in a needed or appropriate way to any person or group by not cussing.  Now I may have been unclear, misunderstood, etc.. many, many times.  One incident in Nigeria stands out.  But I can almost guarantee it was never because of a failure to cuss.  

  • Juan

    “So, now I’m kinda doubting myself here. So it’s OK for me to cuss? Because, well, I just got used to it a couple years ago, but I’ve been trying to stop because I thought that would please God. But all of you guys, this preacher and Christian blogger, and some comments here are sort of telling me its OK– SOMETIMES. Maybe I shouldn’t constrict myself so much then… maybe it is OK.”

    I seriously could see some new believer reading all of this stuff and being driven into frustrating confusion; they’d probably be lead to thinking something close to what I typed above.

    Sometimes, modern day Christianity makes me sick, TBH.

  • I totally agree with what is written in this blog. I should add that I think Mark Driscoll is awesome and agree with about 98% of the things he says. 

  • Jacqui Buschor

    I appreciate your bringing the “according to their needs” piece of the scripture into this.  I’ve thought a lot about a pretty high intensity situation I was in lately, where I was with one of my inner city youth group kids and his family in a crisis situation, trying to keep him from running back to the streets again. 

    I used more profanity in that one conversation than I normally would over a months time.  I didn’t use it directed at him or to “tear him down.”  Only to communicate that I understood exactly how screwed up his situation was and that I wasn’t about to try to sugar coat it when I knew how much it was hurting him. 

    I really don’t think, “I understand that your situation might be very difficult for you right now” would have communicated my point quite as clearly. 

  • Very interesting discussion. I think a lot is based on the person’s conscience. Also, didn’t Jesus call religious leaders, “Sons of vipers (Satan),”? And don’t we have a similar phrase today, “Sonof a bitch,”? Not that Jesus cussed necessarily, but didn’t he use “coarse” language to drive his point across when necessary?

  • Tilldawgy77

    I honestly find this quite disturbing. When did it become acceptable to be a Christian use foul language? What happened to the salvation experience of being delivered FROM sin? All I know is this, back in ’96 when I was in the Army, I got saved. I became born again. Instantly, I stopped cussing. The was no fight or struggle about it. It just wasn’t in me to say those foul words again. The same went for drinking, lying, stealing, & fornicating. No one sat me down told me not to do those things. I just got saved. I contend not just from my experience, but the salvation experience of hundreds of Christians I’ve met & above all else what I read in the Bible, no a real Christian will not use cussing for shock value or in any other way. I simply cannot square that away from scripture or in my own personal walk with God, neither as a minister.

  • Tilldawgy77

    I honestly find this quite disturbing. When did it become acceptable to be a Christian use foul language? What happened to the salvation experience of being delivered FROM sin? All I know is this, back in ’96 when I was in the Army, I got saved. I became born again. Instantly, I stopped cussing. The was no fight or struggle about it. It just wasn’t in me to say those foul words again. The same went for drinking, lying, stealing, & fornicating. No one sat me down told me not to do those things. I just got saved. I contend not just from my experience, but the salvation experience of hundreds of Christians I’ve met & above all else what I read in the Bible, no a real Christian will not use cussing for shock value or in any other way. I simply cannot square that away from scripture or in my own personal walk with God, neither as a minister.

  • Ryan Buzzell

    Truth be said Paul used his wording in context, and not out of it, while the F*bomb is never used in context neither the S*word or any curse word for that matter. Pauls word meaning “worthlessness” and the F*bomb meaning sexual intercourse. So no it is still wrong to curse because it is not being used in context.

    • AmyS

      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Inigo Montoya) 

      (Pssst…Words aren’t “used in context” as though definitions are static and independent. Rather, words are read in context and definitions of words are determined by context

      And, by the way, Paul’s word literally means animal excrement. We have a few English equivalents, but they have already been mentioned in this thread, and you can probably think of a few good ones yourself. Sure, he uses it to mean “worthless” or “detestable” (as many of our English translations read), but the literal word is, well, the “S*word” as you call it. He could have used a less offensive bit of vocabulary to say the same thing (literally), but he evidently chose this particular vocabulary for a reason (whether we like it or not). 

      Another example of a curse word in the Bible is found in Isaiah 64:6 (and that time, the prophet is purporting to speak for God). The term “filthy rags” or “soiled garments” (as it is often translated into English) refers to soiled menstrual rags. An English equivalent would literally be used tampon, which is certainly a curse given the context within which it was originally used.)

      • AmyS

        Please forgive the bizarre formatting. It was unintentional.

  • kimberlin59

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.Has this scripture came into anyone’s mind? Ive got to get out of this disgusion I find it disgusting that Satans got his own workshop here! What good fruit comes from anything here? NONE! The f word has no place in a TRUE CHRISTIANS MIND OR MOUTH! Satan twists Gods word in the desert as well but Jesus out smarted him!

  • kimberlin59

    In Revelations it talks about something being distorted and made to look Holy! And put into Gods House! WELL I SMELL A RAT! The first thing that I learned as a Christian was how words are so important! And how we can speak life into our lives and thats called (GODS WORD) or you can speak death into our lives which is to or a (CURSE) I chose Life and accepted Jesus and recieved Gods blessings I rejected and renouced the curse death which is=Satan .words are so important! Could anyone here say that when they face the Lord in Heaven that they could say well God yeah I f.,,,!$$ up sorry it’s my emotions I feel right now I’m expressing my feelings? WELL IF YOU CAN WOE TO YOU ! YOU ARE A FOOL! The word of GOD is our protection and armor, I think it would be ,,,to say the least whole ly when you add a few cuss words to it! God he’s assume and he’s GOD ! We need to show a lot MORE RESPECT! You whoremunglers that dirty his House will be the ones that say’ but Lord I cast out Demons in your name ‘ and he will say get away from me! I DON’T KNOW YOU! And Mark you should repent now before it’s too late! You be spending eternity with SATAN he will express some emotions he’s got himself?this time it’ll be face to face! Instead of suggestion! What does it say in the bible about perverting The Word? Or his temple ?

  • mike

    Well let me tell you a story. I use to run a team of guys on a shuttle and I did everything! Clean, repair, gas up, keep up with the guys needs, you name it I did it. Now it was taking away from other things that I had to do for the business and I thought if the guys would just pitch in things would go a bit better for everyone. So I started to ask the guys to help out and nothing got done. This went on for quite some time until one day I told the guys that I needed them to help out with the, fill in the blank, van, and LET’s Get it Done! I got upset and the guys knew I was a Christain, but as soon as I cussed and was very serious they changed right then and started helping me! So in some instances you have to speak their language, if you don’t well don’t expect much. At least in my case nothing would have gotten done. You don’t always have to be mister nice guy, sometimes the other foot has to fall for some peopel to understand because that’s the way they were brought up. I’m not saying everyone here but in my case it’s the way it was. I didn’t always have to get upset but if I did then the guys knew what I wanted from them and they knew what to expect. (and sometimes I cuss to blow off steam but that has changed over the years) Wish I could say I was mister perfect but I’m not so there ya go.. Take care and God Bless, thank Him for His Grace!

  • Nathan

    This was a cold ass post! Glad I followed the link. I’m with you Kurt, there is a time and place for everything, and believers must be sensitive to those around them when using what our culture has labeled “foul language.” It is our primary goal to build up Jesus’ fame and honor on the public stage, and if that necessitates tempered speech on our behalf, so be it- whatever it takes! That said, though, I can’t find anything in Scripture backing the hard-line stance against “cussing Christians” that some take. Seems more to me like yet another conflation of wider cultural values with the values given to us by God, Christ, and the apostles.

    Then comes a passage like Ephesians 5:4, wherein Paul forbids “foolish talk” and “crude joking,” denouncing such behaviors as “out of place,” which I presume indicates that these types of speech do not belong in the age inaugurated by Christ’s death and resurrection. Fine then. The question is, what is considered foolish talk and crude joking? Does this mean no blonde jokes? No race jokes? No gender jokes? I fear that our answers may be as socially constructed as our definition of cussing. I also think the possibility exists that Paul, if living in our modern American society, might agree with our social constructions. This passage has haunted me for a while, and I admit to having avoided the commentaries on it. But since your blog was heuristic in this regard, I thought I would broach the topic to you. Any thoughts?

  • Jose Gonzales

    Fuck the apostle Paul and his faith-onlyist bullshit that has destroyed the moral foundations of society! Let him fucking burn in mother fucking hell!

    (How’s that?)

    • Jose Gonzales

      Oh, and its Paul’s fucking fault the fags are destroying the goddamn country. His faith-onlyist bullshit has made the mother fucking church Protestant douchebag churches fucking incapable of mother fucking defending morality. “Oh, we’re saved by faith alone, so let’s go fuck each other up the ass now.” Thanks alot, Paul you fucking turd!

      (Did all the profanity help me make my point any better?)

  • ktaylor

    tony Compolo is a jerk..and a liberal christian. NO christian should swear…it is a sign of unrighteousness and lack of holiness! It degrades the person and God! NO unwholesome talk means just that! Without HOLINESS NO MAN will see GOd! there is enough words in our language to express ourselves without using words from the pit of hell to do so! We are NOT to be LIke the world..but separate!!

    • so if someone cusses they will not go to heaven? Seems a bit different to salvation by faith. Also I’d be careful about calling people ‘jerks’ if you’re not a fan of swear-words

  • Lane

    Cussing Christians, does that surprise you? One third of the the earths population claims to be Christians. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a Christian simply means, “one who believes in the teachings of Christ.” By that definition, even satan is a Christian. Believing Christ’s teachings and living them are two different things. Calling yourself a Christian or playing in a Christian rock band isn’t a ticket into heaven. In fact, hell is full of Christians, and even Christian pastors. The right word for a true follower of Christ is…a disciple of Christ. And a disciple of Christ is going to guard his tongue and that includes gossip and slander. The word Christian is only mentioned three times in the bible. I’m getting where I can’t hardly stand the word anymore, because of how it’s been abused. Matt. 7:22 says “Many will say Lord Lord, and I will say, depart from me, I know you not.” No one likes to hear a so-called Christian cuss more, than a non-believer. Mark Driscoll is flat wrong on this. Don’t be fooled by the word Christian, it means nothing.

  • Lori

    Here’s the thing: God is unchanging. And if your speech makes others stumble, you have committed a sin. Plain, simple, easy to understand. This dude has God to answer to and if he has caused someone to stumble, God help him.

  • engourdi

    My thoughts: Curse words are just words & society has made them dirty for reasons no one really knows. The Bible never lists words that God thinks are dirty & within different cultures are words that are considered dirty. It is entirely possible that the word “tummy” could be a curse word in some country. Does this mean you sin by referring to your abdomen as your “tummy”?
    Do you think Jesus is concerned w/ if we say “feces” or “shit”, “female dog” or “bitch”. These things are all interchangeable. I have seen people say non-profane words in the ugliest way w/ hate in their hearts. & I have seen people say profane words very light-heartedly. Not so much what you say, but the spirit behind what you have said.

  • A cuss word is unwholesome no matter if it’s from someone on the street or someone behind the pulpit.

  • I know that this thread is old but perhaps somebody will come across it just as I did today and perhaps they will glean something from what I’ve had to say. Getting away from the four letter words for a minute…there are many words, ideas, and concepts that people find offensive and we would do well to avoid liberally peppering our speech with them on a regular basis. That said, all words are useful in the correct context. When you read the bible, you will come across many words or terms that ‘respectful’ Christians would not use in conversation with another. I’ll just highlight one of them for now. Whore. This term is useful when describing a particular behavior with regards to either a person, culture, or society. ‘Whore of Babylon’. Somebody or something that allows itself to be used by another. But…….we don’t go around screaming whore as ‘respectable’ Christians. Granted this is a translational term, it means relatively the same thing as the original verbiage. When was the last time that we heard our prim and proper grandmother refer to somebody or something as a whore? This is due to the fact that the word brings to mind a person of ill repute. It is an uncomfortable word. Sex comes to mind….specifically sex that is paid for. Is this word ‘dirty’, persay? No. Its meaning is unpleasant and the mental image that it conjures is ess than ‘clean’. What is the meaning behind these swear words that are so hotly contested? Well, it depends on the individual that is using them. The F word is often a filler like the term ‘uh’ or ‘um’. Used in this manner, it is certainly not beneficial since it is so hotly contested. As Christians, we should probably just stick with ‘um’ so as not to offend. I was in the military and as a leader, one must always give the appearance of confidence and unwavering certainty. As a combat leader, one should never use the term ‘um’. This term calls into question the knowledge and confidence of the leader. A lower enlisted soldier should never have to question his leader’s abilities. Why do you think that the term ‘curse like a sailor’ has been around for so long? As opposed to saying ‘um’ it is a much more respected practice (at least in the military) to use the F-bomb in place of ‘um’ as a filler. Swearing in the military also instills fear in new soldiers. These men and women are fresh out of their parents’ homes and have not been exposed to a loud, swearing, aggressive form of leadership before. Just something to think about. This may not make it right but in my opinion, it is far better to have used the f-word than to have instilled doubt in one’s soldiers since that fosters a propensity to question orders (and that will often get you killed). There are other ways to instill confidence in soldiers but this is usually the quickest and easiest way to do so. Studies have also shown that stress levels are measurably decreased when individuals use swear words as opposed to shouting ‘poop’. Combat is stressful. Burning bodies and their respective parts tend to wear on a soldier’s psyche. Rather than pinning such tags as ‘intellect’ or ‘sin’ or ‘bad’ or ‘lazy’ to the behavior or practice of swearing, we would all do well to pull the log out of our own eye and endeavor to understand the argument from another perspective.

  • Blake

    i would just like to say. I don’t think there is something wrong if someone uses the F bomb in front of you then apologizes. Obviously you want them to be who they are, but if they know what you stand for and that you don’t like foul language then there is nothing wrong with it. It’s a sign of respect. And even if they aren’t Christian some people do have a sense of respect for others. When i wasn’t a Christian I wouldn’t cuss around someone who didn’t like the language. Not because I wasn’t being myself but because I respected them. Also it depends on how well you know the person too.

  • Mark Driscoll is fat now, he needs to lose weight. Gluttony is a sin as well….

  • Oh, your basis is so lame and flimsy on this. Very disappointed guy… cursing is a terrible example to others and it’s not an example of a Christian-focused path. And, I am far-far from conservative. On this, you are so wrong….

  • EKB

    Hmmmmm…….What would Jesus do?

  • Guest

    Cussing only goes to show others that you lack self control and are immature. It’s as simple as that! or….. pick one of these ..

    You lack the intellect to express yourself without profanity.

    Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully.

    Obscenity is the currency of a bankrupt vocabulary

  • JJ

    Just the fact that your non-Christian friend apologizes when using the F word around you tells you even he knows it’s offensive. Disciplining oneself takes work…nobody wants to put forth any effort anymore. People are really lazy today. When watching a movie if the character is a foulmouthed person it is so hard for me to have apathy for them. They are not even trying. Why should I?

  • Sk3ptec

    Profanity is the language of the illiterate.

  • robgrayson

    Driscoll believes that he preached through a book of the Bible better than any other preacher he’s ever heard (his words). How’s that for humility?

  • StupidHuman2013

    To all the Critics and judges, It’s not the one who thinks he knows something, because they do not know as they ought to know. but the person that loves God is known by God. Paraphrased from (1cor 8:2-3) That is all that matters, all else is skybalon

    Teddy Roosevelt said it best: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

    God has accomplished more through Driscoll in the past 10 years than any of the arm-chair bloggers will ever accomplish in a lifetime.

  • Denise Theisman Brooks

    I have always put the well-being of those who need Jesus above the use of liberty i am afforded through Jesus. It is a maturity issue in my eyes. Maybe i’m a grouch sometimes around my family. That is the “real me”. But it’s not the “best me” in God’s eyes. So, yes, i repent. And i would if i spoke offensively as well. That’s the right thing to do. That’s how you mature and grow in the Lord. If you make excuses for your less-than Christlike behavior, you will continue to do so, and never get victory in that area. We are a light, and an example of the transforming power of Jesus. If the world only sees more of the same, we are sending them the wrong message. This is an excellent article regarding this issue. And reflects my views.

    Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

    Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

    Matthew 15:10-11 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

  • GShogren

    Skubalon was not a curse word in koine. In fact, the Pauline words that best qualified as way off-color were stauros, staurizo, “cross”, “crucify”.

    Young boys learn to curse in order to show their peers they are “tough guys.” They talk big about their knowledge of sex. They bully others. Isn’t this kind of latent adolescence that’s relevant parallel in Driscoll’s case? Who is he trying to impress, other men? Himself?

  • Jeff

    So what did he say?

  • mlh

    Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. If anyone be in Christ he is a new creature OLD things have passed away and behold all things have become brand NEW. Fresh water and salt water cannot flow out of the same stream. Language is part of a believers transformation.

  • LInda

    I too think it’s wrong to act shocked when a non-christian says a cuss word or
    says something wrong when we are around them. However, we are christians
    and one thing that is supposed to change when we get saved is our
    language. I find it just plain lazy to say it’s okay to say words that offend instead
    of asking God to help us to speak things that edify. There is a scripture that
    says “…may the WORDS OF MY MOUTH, and the meditations of my heart,
    be pleasing in your sight, O God…”. I certainly say things occasionally that
    are not right, but the Holy Spirit convicts me, I ask forgiveness, and I move on.
    To not feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit is not right. We make mistakes every
    day, but it’s one thing to make a mistake and repent, and another to make
    excuses for ourselves and take the easy way out. You are apparently a leader,
    so this makes it even more so for you, since the bible says teachers will be
    judged more strictly. Salvation is free and bad language won’t keep a believer
    out of heaven. But to say it’s okay to cuss to get attention is unbiblical.
    No where in the bible does it say that….in fact, it says quite the opposite.
    To say there is a scripture that agrees with you on that issue is to twist the
    Word of God to say what you want it to say.

  • beledbythespirit

    no christian if u r a cusser. corinthians ch 6 verse 9-11 says a reviler a cusser will not enter into the kingdom of God. a christian is christ like Jesus sure didnt cuss. he makes us new creatures with good fruit not devils fruit of cussing.

  • Myra

    My children’s father cursed at me Monday night. The Bible tells us that there is life and death in the tongue. That night those words killed my spirit, and killed my unborn child. His choice of words, together with the spiritual bile with which he used them made me inconsolably upset. Two days my blood pressure was abnormally high, began running a high fever and last night my contractions started. I’m devastated, completely, the profound sadness I’m feeling is sickening. As Christians its crucial to watch our words, and our walk. We are supposed to be saved and sanctified, how he could unapologetically hurt me like this is incomprehensible to me. I question his salvation now.

  • Wilson Jnr Kalama

    It’s a shame and a disgrace to HIM that there is even a post like this, and that PREACHERS try to justify such language. I think it’s rather pathetic how you’re trying to justify bad living. Cuss words are like garbage, and I don’t want to fill my mind with trash. you’re just looking for an excuse to say and do anything you want to do without any concern how it affects others. just like so many in this american society you don’t give a flip about others, only yourself. If you truly wanted to be a Christian, i.e., a follower of Christ, you would not say or do anything that 1. brings reproach to HIM; 2, cause others to stumble; 3. and lastly, stand between you and Him. I may be from a 3rd world country, but even us heathens know what a Christian should and should not be. What I see mostly in the states is a lot of egos that would rather justify and excuse their immoral, wrong way of living rather than agree with the Bible. One of the things I hear most is “no one is perfect, we all sin.” used to excuse bad living. man up people. If you’re gonna be a Christian, be a persuaded, converted one. What’s the point of calling yourself a Christian, but you don’t have the lifestyle to back up HIS name? you’re all a bunch of whiners, self-seeking manics who have no real concept of what it means to LOVE Jesus more than yourself. thanks for letting me have my say, even without one cuss word. God bless.

  • Dale R

    Simply put, God is more concerned with personal pronouns than adjectives.

  • Joan Lee

    Let me get this straight. Kurt, you say swearing is okay for a Christian … when in the right context. Mmmm!!! I’m a little confused.
    Because we (who profess to be Christians) are told (in the bible) to imitate and follow Christ (just a few examples, Eph 5:1-2, 1 Cor 11:1, John 13:13-17, John 2:6). And, for the life of me, I can’t quite see Christ swearing … at anytime … any place.
    Sounds to me like you are trying to justify a Christian using profanity.
    For goodness sake, tough, if a Christian mate was swearing as he was coming out of the trenches, say, in World War 1, I’m not going to too concerned am I.
    Same as if a mate puts his fist through the window of his car, while he lets slip with a swear word while arguing with God, all because his third baby daughter dies (true story).
    But these situations are exceptional circumstances. Far from the norm.
    In short, Scriptures tells us quite clearly not to swear and to imitate Christ. That’s good enough for me. Sorry, Kurt, you might have to think this one through again.

  • Docnate

    Realizing that this was an article from 4 years ago…but is still pertinent for today…

    1) If you need a cuss word to describe your inner most feelings…& you are a church leader…then I would say the Holy Spirit does NOT live in you! More so…you are ignorant of the English language, & you should NOT be leading God’s people period.

    2) Some say that their ministry reaches the destitute & they need to be able to relate to those that have a foul vocabulary…therefore, foul language is part of their vocabulary. Then, with THAT mindset….maybe you think it to be acceptable to become a drug dealer, prostitute, or murderer so that you can relate to those you are trying to reach?

    Let me say this…as a WARNING to all that read this & agree with it…DON’T be the itching ears that the Bible warns us about! If your pastor has a foul mouth…the Lord is NOT in him! PERIOD! Find ANOTHER church where God’s Word is honored!

    • Then what do you make of Paul cussing in scripture?

      • Docnate

        Kurt…I’m not sure of the passage in scripture you are referring to…

        But hear is a rule of thum…if the Bible says don’t do something, THEN DONT DO IT!

        So, I rounded up several passages as a sample for anyone curious about the validity of concerned Christians on wether a Christian should cuss…
        Sorry it is in KJV, but it is clear still in the other versions as well.

        Also, Paul wrote the warnings in Ephesians because it was an issue in Ephesus.

        Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

        James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

        James 5:12 – But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

        Ephesians 5:4 – Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

        Matthew 5:22 – But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

        Matthew 12:34-37 – O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

        Exodus 20:7 – Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

        Matthew 5:33-37 – Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

        Luke 6:45 – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

        Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

        Romans 3:14 – Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness:

        Leviticus 19:12 – And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD.

        Proverbs 4:24 – Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

      • Docnate

        Sorry for the typos or misspelled words…it was late!

  • Mom

    I immediately respect someone less when they curse…just the way I was raised. I have a house full of teenagers and letting go of all standards is a ticket to a train wreck for everyone. No thanks. I prefer my kids to know how to be polite. By the way, the phrase is “the last straw”. Not “the last draw”.

  • I have been a christian for a couple of decades. Prior to my conversion I used profanity/cussing in small doses because my children were small and I was trying to teach them that they didn’t have to cuss or use foul language to express themselves. Before those children I was cussing like a sailor. (I actually was a sailor.) Even after 49 years, I still slip up and yell certain words when I injure myself or am extremely mad. For some reason I correlate cuss words with being less of a christian. I have been trying to find an answer to this question of the effects of cussing from christians in their/my witness to other christians and non-believers. If they view my efforts in being an example in my actions and heart does a cuss word nullify my christianity? I believe it doesn’t but I also believe that multiple use of cussing and profanity does create an image of societal influence on a believer. Does the repeated viewing and listening on secular programming and groups you belong to reflect who we are at the center and does that influence bring about certain words/language we use in talking with others? So, I do believe it is a reflection of our lives in what we “breath in” spiritually. Even though I fight the use of cussing does it define me as a christian? I guess it depends upon how comfortable you or I are in who we say those words in front of.

  • Zena Windlow

    well said

  • Jason x

    What the writer fails to recognize is that doing anything because of
    contextual correctness or deciphering original Greek or whatever, will
    lead exactly to legalism if the spirit is not a part of your life. That
    is exactly what he is accusing people in the church of doing today. So
    now, the writer has it all figured out and is now saying that we can all
    swear! That if we swear at the right time, in the right place, in the
    right way that we are totally cool with Jesus!! He doesn’t even speak of
    the Spirit once!!

    I don’t think God intends for you to do anything out of fear for the
    church, but out of love for Him. So if you feel led by the spirit to
    swear, then by all means swear. But if you are shown by the spirit to
    not swear (I would argue is more common) then don’t swear. It is not
    legalism to follow what God puts in your heart.

    What I have found in my own life is that when I find myself further from God, I also swear more. When I find myself closer to God, I do not swear at all. I think it is very obvious to people walking in the spirit what is right and wrong. When they are walking in the spirit, God reveals to them what is of the spirit and what is of the flesh. God has called me personally not to swear.

    Is this what God intends for me personally and not for the church as a whole? Yes.

    I have also noticed in my friends that show a close relationship with the Lord, is that they swear a lot less when in the spirit. And I don’t believe that is something they feel regulated to do, but just the opposite. I think God replaces those words with a different vocabulary and mindset.

    Out of observation of my own life and those around me who have been saved and transformed, I would say swearing may be a result of the flesh for many people(not all)