I read an interview recently with a Christian artist who was asked about his use of an expletive in a recent song. His response was that this particular word is something found in his normal vocabulary so it would be “disingenuous to leave it out.” It got me thinking; when did we start valuing authenticity over holiness? We are seeing more and more people in public arenas – particularly musicians and pastors – who are using expletives and the justification tends to be that they are just being “real.”
Now I understand that there are Christians who don’t have an issue with swearing, but while there is a conversation to be had with regards to Ephesians 4:29, that’s not something I’m going to take up at the moment. Instead, I would argue that we need to consider 1 Corinthians 8. Paul addresses the issue of the consumption of food that has been offered to idols. He recognises that there are Christians who know that idols are nothing, and so they understand that there is no significance in food being offered to these idols thus they have no issue with eating it. Paul affirms their understanding and supports their right to eat the food. Having recognised this attitude and affirming their right to eat the food Paul then goes on to give a caution. He warns the Corinthians that while they understand that there is no sin in eating food offered to idols there are others in their midst who genuinely view this activity as a sin who could be led to act against their conscience. He instructs them to consider their weaker brothers and not eat the food in their presence.
This situation is comparable to those who believe that expletives are just a natural part of language and so feel comfortable using them. Again, not taking up the argument on whether Christians should swear, but it is important to remember that there are many Christians who believe that swearing is sinful. Because of this surely it is the responsibility of any Christian with a public platform to speak and act in a way that is not going to cause others to sin against their conscience while they are in public, regardless of how they act in private.
Does this mean that we should present ourselves as being perfect people without any flaws? Of course not. Let us, however, always try to make sure that we don’t glorify those actions and behaviours that our Christian brothers and sisters consider to be sinful in a manner that would cause them to stumble. Instead, let us point to them as evidence for our continual need for Christ.
This post comes from Ben Smith, who shares a deep conviction of Scripture as the infallible counsel of God, and that aided by the Holy Spirit we can arrive at a coherent understanding of what it teaches as a whole.