Friday, October 31, 2014

Profanity in Books and Culture - Part Two

Many years ago I wrote a post about profanity in books and culture. Instead of rehashing what I have already written, I want to add a few thoughts based on the book I just finished called The Exact Place by Marjorie Haack.

First of all, this book is about a young girl's hunger for a father's love. Every page is loaded with the heaviness of her stepfather's rejection, making it a ponderous read. Second, the book is about the glory of everyday things. "I loved the daily ritual of feeding a crowd of chickens who waited eagerly for you to dump their oats and mash into the feeders, of gathering eggs so fresh they were still warm in your cupped hand, of throwing slabs of hay over the fence to the horses who nickered to you as they watched..." Third, the book is about finding grace in the dark places, which is why I liked it very much.

But I didn't love it because of the author's choice to use crass language. I know it's trendy for Christians to swear, but I still found it disheartening.

Beautiful and well-chosen words edify and bring joy. Smutty words denigrate. John MacArthur, in an excellent article about how the Christian community is bending over backward to look, talk and act like non-Christians (in order to better reach them), wrote: I frankly wonder how any Christian who takes the Bible at face value could ever think that in order to be “culturally relevant” Christians should participate in society’s growing infatuation with vulgarity.

Here are two differing posts on the theme of profanity:

Why Christians Shouldn't Cuss and Why Christians Should Cuss

(We all know how wonderful it is to have friends who love us unconditionally, for whom we don't have to clean the house or put on makeup. But to use profanity to weed out your real friends from the false ones seems a trifle juvenile.)

Last of all, I disagree with profanity because the Bible is clear that "the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." (Luke 6:45) If we've experienced the transforming power of God in our lives, our words should be hopeful, grace-filled and life-giving.

James comments on this in chapter 3, verses 10 to 11: Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Additional thoughts on this subject can be found in this good article over at Gospel Coalition.


Barbara H. said...

I agree, Hope. I've written posts about language in books, esocially Christian ones. I don't see how those who want to reflect favorably on their Savior can think it is ok to speak in such a way.

Susanne said...

I agree too. Cussing and using filthy words to express ourselves never brings glory to God. I don't see how we can think it's ok. To me the cleaning up of my language was one of the clear signs that my life had changed when I became a Christianfrom where it had been. I was now representing Him.

Annie Kate said...

Yes, we can reach nonChristians without becoming like them.