Written by cycleguy on March 16th, 2015

In Sunday’s sermon I talked about the two thieves on either side of Jesus. Matthew seems to indicate they both went on the offensive in mocking Jesus, but somewhere along the line one of them changed. Luke 23 tells us while the one “railed” against Jesus, the other basically told him to ‘shut up’ because while they were guilty, He was innocent.

What a strange word: railed. The ESV uses it while others use “scoff” (NLT); “blasphemed” (NKJV); “cursed” (MSG); “yell insults” (HCSB); and “hurling abuse” (NASB). We are more familiar with the others, but railed? Not so much. As you can gather, there are several meanings to the word. One of the things I found is it included obscenities.

I suspect some may be offended by what I say in this post…well, so be it. I am not an idiot. I can read reports of the change of values. I can see them. One of them is the use of obscenities/profanity. Without a doubt it has been a part of history, probably since the beginning of time in one way or another. I guess what bothers me is the lackadaisical attitude so many followers of Christ have toward the use of obscenities. I realize it is in vogue. Strange as it may seem to you: I married a woman who has never uttered a profanity out of anger or just speaking. (Wish I could say that). And we certainly did not allow “OMG!” (or some form of it) to be used in our household.

I also know I come from a different age. Never is that moreย  evident than the common (mis)use of obscenities from the pulpit. Frankly, I am appalled by the use of profanity in or out of the pulpit by men who say they are called by God. I have great difficulty believing Jesus would approve of our use of profanity to “reach the masses.” I seem toย  remember Paul saying, “But now you must put them all away…obscene talk from your mouth.” (Col.3:8)

I may be wrong (but don’t think I am), Christ-followers are to have a different speech pattern than those who don’t follow Jesus. That includes all of us. That especially includes men who stand in the pulpit.

What do you think?


29 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    My words are not all butterflies and rainbows. I definitely try hard to mind my tongue but am far from perfect, especially when I am upset. But cursing from the pulpit is a no-no for me.

    • cycleguy says:

      We are all far from perfect Daniel.Guess I should have spent more time on the one thing which really bothers me: the pulpit language.

  2. Gingi says:

    Completely agree. I do not curse and consider myself a rather profanity free gal, but I was shocked to find, with a toddler, how many phrases or things I say that I would not like to hear come out of my daughters mouth.. kind of makes you realize the importance of doing a self-check every now and then on how we think, talk, and act.. – http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

    • cycleguy says:

      Children are a reality check for us Gingi if we listen to them. It is not uncommon to say, “And where did you hear that?” ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you watch your words.

  3. Jeff says:

    I have always been more concerned with the obscene ideas that I hear from pulpits (Usually in very nice words) than in the particular words they use.

  4. Rick Dawson says:

    I know Christ was not a stranger to the profanities of his day. Did He feel the need to speak any of them? Not recorded, nor do I believe He did use the language in that way ever. I rarely occupy pulpit space as I did the past weekend, but rest assured I didn’t use it. It wasn’t for lack of ability, but one of purpose. With no need to stir up passion, why use the language – but, as Tony Campolo noted a while back, we’re in danger of becoming a sub-culture that get so shocked or offended that the person who offended is still targeted long after the offense itself (say, childhood hunger?) by calling it BS…Just putting it up there, becauses we *are* getting to the point of majoring in the minors in some parts of the country.

    It would be nice if all t’were balanced and even…but there it is…

    • cycleguy says:

      I realize we can major in minors Rick. I only say this because I feel it does draw attention away from the ONE who is to get the attention. When I, as a pastor, use that language, people are more concerned with what I said than the truth I may be trying to convey (a Tony Campolo illustration is on my fingertips but would be too long to type). Thanks.

  5. Oh yeah, Bill. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. It makes me sad to hear a Christ follower toss out OMG so casually without thought.

    He is so deserving of our deepest and most awesome praise.

    And respect.

    • cycleguy says:

      I’m with you on that Linda. I can remember my mom correcting me at a very young age about the use of that. And He is worthy of our praise and respect (which that, to me, lacks).

  6. Ben Nelson says:

    Amen Pastor Bill – Amen

    As Amy Carmichael said

    โ€œFor a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.โ€

    We who should be full of the Holy Spirit of the Holy God should never be jostled so profoundly that vile filth pours out. Neither should we disguise our sweet water with the trappings of filth.

    Thanks Pastor Bill.

  7. Kari Scare says:

    My oldest son (now 16) said when he was about 13 that people who swear show their lack of intelligence. Keep in mind his age at the time, but you get his point, I hope. I just think there are more positive ways to express yourself. It’s kind of like the way we dress… whether we like it or not, appearances (what we say and do and how we look) do make a statement about who we are, and people do judged us based on those things (and we on them).

    • cycleguy says:

      I used to say “Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind trying to express itself forcibly.” I have more tact now but the saying is still true. ๐Ÿ™‚ You are correct about judgments people make also. Thanks Kari.

    • Deb Wolf says:

      Kari, My grandmother used to say that too. That we were too smart to use words that didn’t take any thought or effort. You have a very intellegent young man.

  8. I definitely don’t understand it in the pulpit. It also seems to me that if you really have Christ you don’t have much need for obscenities.

  9. Yes, I agree, that the culture today is much too tolerant of the use of obscenities. As Christians, we should strive to never use them to lace our speech. What purpose does it serve but to drag our thoughts off Jesus and throw them in the gutter? Thanks for the reminder not to rail! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Blessings, Bill!

    • cycleguy says:

      Good way to put it Martha; to drag our thoughts off Jesus. I have this hard time finding His approval on some of the way we (I) talk whether using profanity or gossip.

  10. Sharon says:

    I totally agree with you. But I am also ashamed to admit that less-than-glorious language does slip out of my mouth sometimes. It doesn’t even have to be swearing, it can just be gossip or put-downs or nit-picking, or any other sort of language that is not righteous. No wonder we are told that the tongue is a flaming weapon and not easily tamed.

    “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD…” (Psalm 19:14)


    • cycleguy says:

      Great way to put it Sharon: “less than glorious language.” I like that since it takes in all that we say. Thanks also for the verse.

  11. Deb Wolf says:

    Bill, I think we’ve gotten very lazy about giving offense. I try not to take offense easily as well. For me, that is a huge part of the language I use. Profanity is offensive to many people so rather than risk upsetting them I choose to be careful with my words. I haven’t really heartd it from the pulpit thankfully.

    • cycleguy says:

      I agree Deb. We have gotten lazy. As for the language from the pulpit: it tends to be some of the younger guys who are the guilty parties.

  12. Pam says:

    Absolutely agree, Bill–there is no place for that kind of speech either in the pulpit or out! As a pastor’s wife I have spent a good deal of time with pastors “off the clock”, so to speak, and have been shocked and appalled by the inappropriate language and subject matter I have heard when some have “let their hair down”. Commitment to Christ and His teachings is for ALL of us, ALL the time.

    • cycleguy says:

      i wish i could say my speech was always “safe” in the past. I was young, arrogant and brash. I hopefully have matured over the years and keep my words to myself, especially now that I have no hair to “let down.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. floyd says:

    It’s tough to be “salt and light” when you talk like a sailor…

    • Rick Dawson says:

      I was a sailor – repenting of the language in past usage – no apologies for it in the present so far as I can avoid it’s use in the present, but there are times, as I’ve written about before and presented here as an example, that sometimes the use of a certain phrase for bovine excrement cuts through a whole lot of dance stepping by a brother who wants to justify continued sick behavior.

    • cycleguy says:

      I do wonder the same thing Floyd.