Is Progressive Christianity with Excessive Profanity Really Christian?


I recently chose to disconnect from a figure in the Progressive Christianity movement over something that may seem minor: profanity.

I’m not a prude and I generally don’t mind profanity most of the time. That said, I think there’s a time and place for everything.

As far as I’m concerned, religious discussions shouldn’t require profanity.

I wrote about this last April, when I’d found a few Christian podcasts that seemed to be loaded with curse words. ‘

A few. It surprised me because, honestly, that profanity seemed really out of place.

One of the shows, as I recall, even had a sound effect that seemed to be used to “celebrate” every curse word. Within the first few minutes, I’d heard the sound effect several times.

It seemed like a joke. The speakers seemed to accept it as a challenge to see how many profane words they could work into the conversation.

I use profanity at times myself. It’s not profanity in general that I have a problem with. But there are certain levels of it that I think become unnecessary. Inappropriate. Even just plain tacky.

Some young people — unfortunately, it seems, even some young progressive Christians — seem to think profanity makes them seem hip.

(If you feel that way, may I respectfully suggest that you reconsider the meaning of hip.)

There’s also the issue of entitlement at play here, it would seem. Some people have had comparatively difficult lives and they feel that all they’ve been through somehow gives them the right to drop F-bombs and worse wherever and whenever they see fit.

I get it.

But others of us are entitled to decide for ourselves whether we’re willing to put up with it.

Some of us decide we’re not willing.

There’s also the sage old advice that the use of profanity often comes when the user fails to have a compelling enough argument without it. But profanity doesn’t make a point more valid. If anything, particularly when the subject matter is religion, it might be just enough of a distraction that you end up losing your argument because people may not fully hear it.

Why would that be an outcome any rational person would want?

Does the Bible condemn foul language?

Scripture doesn’t present some George Carlin-esque list of words good Christians should never use.

But there are verses like 2 Timothy 2:16:

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.”

And Colossians 3:8:

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”

And Ephesians 4:29:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

In the past, I’ve written about churches who’ve given poor responses to churchgoers who complain about loud worship music. One of the worst such responses is, “It’s not about you: it’s about God.” As if God wants His followers to go deaf so a worship pastor can put on a rock concert.

That response — which some of my readers tell me they’ve actually received — is exactly like the response of these hip young Christians who get very offended at the suggestion that they should ease off on the language. It comes from pride. It comes from a place that shouts, “It’s my way and if you don’t like it, you can walk away.”

(Often, it’s not quite phrased that politely.)

I wonder whether telling something like that is really intended to “give grace to those who hear.”

Something tells me it isn’t.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.