Monday, June 30, 2008

Christians and profanity

From "Toward an Evangelical Theology of Cussing":
Conservative evangelical Christians have long been known for shunning all sorts of behavior considered by others to be morally neutral or enjoyable. Whether it’s drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking tobacco products, playing cards, going to movie theatres, dancing, or even drinking coffee, “fundamentalist” Christians are often viewed by outsiders as having a God who is not only a white-clad, frowning prude, but also a “Cosmic Killjoy.”

However, the study of cussing, kakalogology, has a less refined history among Christians in general and evangelicals in particular. This lack of definition has caused many outright offenses and some extremely awkward social situations. These range from blurting out words that sound mischievously like curse words but are, in fact, not, to a teacher or preacher’s hesitancy to utter the word “hell” in reference the place of eternal torment.

What does the Bible teach concerning cussing? Can there be a Christian consensus on kakalogology? How are we to determine, in an age of words that did not exist in biblical times, what is appropriate and what is foul? If the Christian is to avoid uttering certain terms, we need to know what those are so we can at least keep an eye on them. And if there is a world of vocabulary available for communicating God’s message, shouldn’t we also be free to use it?

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