CHURCHIANITY PART III – profanity in context

Published May 4, 2008

WORDSLINGER’S NOTEThis is Part 3 in an ongoing series attempting to shed light on the heresy-proclaimed-as-gospel ingrained in the modern-day Christian church. I am a Christian, albeit one who is profoundly disturbed by such theologically twisted, pulpit propaganda. If you are new here, please read CHURCHIANITY PART I and PART II before continuing.

Remember George Carlin’s infamous seven words you can’t say on television? I won’t repeat them here … not because I’m prudish (I’m not), or worried about offending someone (you know me better than that), or that I’m afraid I’ll disappoint God (disappointment connotes an expectation not met, if God is Omniscient, he cannot be disappointed). No, my point is that for decades – especially since the advent of electronic media – there has been a moral code of what is acceptable language and subject matter for public broadcast. In recent years, television producers have certainly pushed that envelope, and the FCC has adjusted accordingly. For good or ill, we have come a long way since Lucy Ricardo couldn’t use the word “pregnant,” Jeannie couldn’t show her belly button, and Rob and Laura Petrie had to sleep in twin beds.

Beyond the FCC’s regulations regarding popular media, however, the church has much more stringent rules regarding such. According to them, George Carlin was woefully short sighted in only listing seven words one can’t say on television … or in real life for that matter. This was never more evident than in the creation of the TV language filter — a device that has always been rather disturbing to me. I understand the concern of parents in wanting to protect their children from a rain of unwanted words varying in length from four letters to twelve, but this machine dictates morality with zero consideration of context. And, as I will prove in a moment, context is everything.

Another disturbing development came earlier this decade with the creation of a company called CleanFilms — a “Christian” video rental company that edited DVDs to remove profanity, nudity, violence, crude language and other unwanted content. Gee, I thought we were decades beyond the kind of censorship they had under Joseph Stalin, but … I guess not. Not long after going into business, CleanFilms was sued by many Hollywood studios for copyright infringement. I am pleased to inform you that, due to the courts ruling, CleanFilms is no longer in operation.

Beyond language in media, however, there is a stigma in the church where nothing even resembling a curse word must ever be uttered. Perhaps they are heeding Ephesians 4:29, which says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up …

I say, let’s fine tune our definition of “unwholesome talk.” If you skip down a verse or two, 31-32 adds, Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

From that, I would define “unwholesome talk” as anything with HATE behind it. Which means many of words the church have labeled as VERBOTEN, are just fine. Sometimes they’re the best ones to describe what one is feeling. Ever hit your head on something and cry, “Shit!” As long as it’s not happening to you, it’s funny. Even God thinks it’s funny. Because there’s nothing hateful in it. I mean, honestly, which is worse to say?

I hate you!

or

I fuckin’ love you, man!

Those notorious F-bombs are in fact the world’s greatest, and most diverse, modifier. Signifying something extremely good or extremely bad. Again … CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!

The church’s stigma of making such innocent words as darn, dang, or damn something deserving of eternal torment in h-e-double hockey sticks is pretty sick. When it comes to language, what the church should be promoting is GENUINE EXPRESSION from a GENUINE HEART – regardless of the emotion or the words. If you read my first CHURCHIANITY post, I related a story where, after some horrendous therapy, I screamed at God every filthy foul word I could think of. His response to me not only proves my point, but was life changing.

Offense at honest expression — including those words the aforementioned TV filter would have bleeped out — is a welcome mat for hypocrisy, emotional constipation, and putting on a fake face rather than a real one. It also (and I’ve said this before) is a form of Churchianity that repels more lost souls than it attracts. To those “Christians” reading this with whom I’ve struck a nerve here, I say, Stop majoring in the minors! Stop making us look like prudes because you think holiness has more to do with adherence to manmade rules, than being genuine and honest. Words are only as harmful as the intent behind them.

As for blasphemy, the commandment which states, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain,” has been misinterpreted for eons. It does not necessarily mean someone exclaiming Jesus Christ or Goddamn it! (although, again I think context needs to be taken into account … is this a bleat of hate or just frustration?) Theologians have told us this verse actually means, Don’t make a vow to God and break it. Don’t say, I swear to God. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.

I’ve got another definition for blasphemy … how about calling yourself a Christian and not treating others with the same grace, mercy and compassion that Jesus shows us? Now THAT’S taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Stifling honest expression, and the myriad of colorful words which help, is promoting hypocrisy. For people who talk about the truth setting them free, I see way too many things that fly smack in the face of that. Too many things that promote falsities rather than genuineness, lies rather than truth. I am not suggesting we should all walk around talking like sailors and truck drivers (no offense to them), but I am saying sometimes honest expression requires a vocabulary with a little wider palette.

Do you agree?

Or do you think I’m full of bull poop?

Leave a comment.

Continue to Churchianity Part IV — Marriage and Divorce.