Profanity, Christians and the Spread of the Gospel

Cussing Christians

In a Facebook group that Chuck and I are in, one of the discussions this week was on the topic of Christians and profanity. The point was made that the Bible shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of the characters and thus we should, too, in various aspects of our lives, such as in the content we write.

Among other things, the idea was that profanity, Christians, and the spread of the gospel go hand in hand.

One proponent of swearing Christians raved about a pastor and author that drops F-Bombs, stating that the pastor “never met an F-Bomb she didn’t like.”

The idea, of course, is that this pastor is doing things the right way, a way that is “real” and “authentic.” An even deeper message is that as Christians, we should be. . . like the world.  Now that idea wasn’t explicitly stated, and yet if a pastor that drops F-Bombs is held up as a good example, the idea was also there that we should all follow that example.

The problem with this thinking is that it’s not biblical.

Before I get into what I feel is a biblical perspective on this subject, I want to first say that Christians — myself included — have blown it in the past. Instead of being conduits of the “kindness of God that leads to repentance,” we’ve been more like sledgehammers that attempt to pound the truth of the gospel into people. That is also an unbiblical not to mention ineffective means of leading people to Christ, and perhaps we’ll explore that in a post in the future.

But for now, let’s get into what the Bible says about being like the world in order to lead people to Christ.

Being all Things to All People

Many who support the idea of F-Bomb dropping pastors and other means of “relevancy” in order to win people to Christ point to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22 where he wrote, “to the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

If you look at that verse in isolation, you could conclude that we should indeed drop F-Bombs if the people we want to reach are F-Bombers. You could also conclude that we should become a prostitute if we want to reach prostitutes, a murderer if we want to reach murderers, and a thief if we want to reach thieves.

These are extreme examples, of course, to make a point: it’s not only unnecessary, but ludicrous to sin to reach sinners.

What then did Paul mean when he said to be all things to all people? I believe that Paul found ways to relate to the people he was called to reach with the gospel, without comprising who he was as a believer in Jesus. For example, if he was reasoning with a religious Jew, he used the law — something a religious Jew understands — in order to explain the gospel. If he was speaking with a Gentile, he’d use a “Gentile” approach. When looking at this Scripture through the lens of the entire Bible, there’s nothing to indicate that he would engage in sinful behavior in order to reach sinners.

Dropping F-Bombs in the Name of Jesus?

I want to circle back to the original point of this post and that is whether or not Christians should use profanity — either just because they want to, or because they see it as a means to reach unbelievers. Is dropping F-Bombs in the name of Jesus an effective way to lead people to Christ? Is is something we should engage in as believers for any reason?

In order to answer this question, it’s important to look at what the Bible says about our words. Here are a few Scriptures to get you started.

  • Our words should be flavored with grace (Colossians 4:6)
  • Our words should not be corrupt; instead, they should build others up (Ephesians 4:29)
  • What we put into our mouths doesn’t defile us, but the words that come out of our mouths can defile us (Matthew 15:11)
  • Filthy speech and crude jokes are inappropriate for believers (Ephesians 5:4)
  • Sometimes simply saying nothing is the best course of action (Proverbs 17:28)
  • Wholesome words give life to those who hear them, but perverse words break the spirit (Proverbs 15:4)
  • If someone thinks they are religious but can’t control the words that come out of their mouth, they are deceived, and their religion is worthless (James 1:26)
  • The words we speak are so important, it’s worth being guarded in our speech (Psalm 141:3)
  • Watching your mouth is a good way to stay out of trouble (Proverbs 21:23)
  • Gracious words bring healing to both the soul and the body (Proverbs 16:24)
  • Blessing God and cursing people are two things that should never come out of the same mouth (James 3:9-10)
  • The righteous speak wise words, but the wicked speak words that are perverse (Proverbs 10:31-32)
  • We will be either justified or condemned by our words (Matthew 12:36-37)
  • The words that come out of our mouths indicate what’s hidden in our hearts (Luke 6:45)
  • Reckless words hurt people, but wise words bring healing (Proverbs 12:18)
  • Evil pours out of the mouths of the wicked (Proverbs 15:28)

The key things that stood out to me in the Scriptures above is that the words we speak reveal what’s in our hearts. Evil words reveal an evil heart, pure words reveal a pure heart. Another important thing to consider is the way that our words impact others; they can be gracious and bring healing to people, or perverse, and break people’s spirits.

The bottom line is that one of the best ways to honor God and serve others is to watch your mouth. 

4 Comments

  • Mark Furlong

    September 4, 2015

    Great insights, Rebecca. I totally agree. Many in the church have been awful about condemning people who are not followers of Jesus for being sinners and thus built walls instead of bridges. However, if we do not live differently, more filled with love and life than the world, what attraction is there really? Words are much more powerful than most of us realize and as you covered so well, the Bible addresses “words” often. Well done. I look forward to reading more from you.
    Mark

    • Rebecca Livermore

      September 4, 2015

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, Mark! It’s funny because Christians have been bad about making rules that don’t need to be there, and as you said, have built walls instead of bridges. For me, looking up what the Bible says about our words gave me a lot of insight into how important it is to use our words wisely, in a way that honors God and blesses others.

      Have a great day and weekend, Mark!

      Rebecca

  • Paula Boyea

    September 4, 2015

    Thank you for addressing this issue in a loving and Biblical manner!
    Paula

    • Rebecca Livermore

      September 4, 2015

      Hi Paula,

      Thanks so much for reaching out and for your kind words! Much appreciated!

      Take care, and have a great weekend,

      Rebecca