Or something like that . . . you all have to check this out. Chuck Swindoll was dropped from a radio station for his language. You will have to read it for yourself as the language is too vulgar to repeat (it is the kind of language the world uses that CANNOT fit into our Christian sub-culture. Why? Just because, that’s why! The culture uses it. OK, I will post them here. I hope that my language filter does not delete them.

1. buns (In Christian writing it is spelled this way: b%#ns or just say “bottom”)

2. heck (in Christian writing it is spelled this way: h*%k or just say “dang!”)

3. crap (in Christian writing it is spelled this way: c$%p – or as Paul puts it “skubalon“)

4. balls (in Christian writing it is spelled this way: b%^$s – or just say “courage”)

I feel so dirty now.

Okay, now seriously. When I heard this I smiled, laughed, and cried.

I smiled because I know Chuck. I served under him as an associate pastor for six years. I was there for most of these comments to which the article refers. I know Chuck well enough to know that everything he says is very intentional. He knows the type of reaction that this will receive and he says it anyway. Why? Because he does not like Christianity defined according to the rules of a sub-culture that strains out gnats and swallows a camel. He wants Christianity to be defined more accurately, focusing on the person and work of Christ, not whether you curse or not. I could say more about Chuck – in fact, I could start a whole blog focused only on what I have learned from him – but I will leave you with my personal knowledge that Chuck knows what he is doing. He is an extremely wise man.

I laughed because of the irony of this event in relation to my recent posts on my distaste (to say the least) for the Christian sub-culture. I don’t think there could be a better illustration as represented by the pressure that this radio station must have received from a few outspoken members of their constituency. The Christian sub-culture is alive and well.

I cried because this is the perception that people have of Christianity. Did Chuck really deserve to get kicked off for this? Did John Piper really need to apologize for saying that God “kicks our ass”? Sometimes there are no better words to express our passion. Yes, we need to be careful with what we say (Matt. 12:36) and limit ourselves to words that edify (1 Cor. 10:23), but in the right context, these words can and do edify. Sometimes there is no better way to get a point across. God is not concerned about putting certain letters together, but about the meaning and context in which they are said. 

If this message gets out to the outside world (and it will and has), what are they going to think of our sub-culture? Here is what they will think, When I go around Christians, I can’t really say anything or let anything slip. I had better just stay away or talk very little. Is this really what we want?

Just a few months ago I was with a lady who had been a Christian for more than thirty years. I have no doubt of her love for Christ. But she did something that astonished me and made me think deeply about the problem of the Christian sub-culture. While we were together, we began talking to an unbeliever. Now this unbeliever spoke the language that he knew best and this language involved some vulgarity. Upon the first vulgar word, the Christian lady became very sour in her countenance. The second vulgar word caused her to begin to disconnect from the conversation. When the third word came out, she had more than she could bear. She got up in the middle of his sentence, expressed her distaste for his language and departed, leaving him with an impression of outright rejection. This rejection came from the “Christ-ian”; the one who follows and represents Christ. He knew what he had done and felt badly. After this, he did not talk much. I ask you: Is this what Christ would have done? Would he have sensed any surprise or fear of this man’s foul language?

Now, just so you know, I don’t curse. I just was not brought up in such a way. I have tried at times, but it just sounded odd coming out of my mouth. If you have seen the movie Signs, you will know what I mean. At the same time, I have a lot of friends who curse. Many of them are not Christian. Often, when I come “back” around to hang out with them, I will force myself to say something “vulgar” in order to change their preconceptions of what it means to be a Christian. I may say (hold on to your seat!), “This day has kicked my ass.” “Or “What the hell were you thinking?” They always look at me kind of odd. But these words are very intentional. My friends are confused because they thought Christians were those who don’t curse, drink, or hang out with unbelievers. Now they have to reconsider all three (I will sometimes do this with a beer in hand – man does that shake them). Now they have to ask, What does it mean to be Christian? Oh how I love that question.

Oh, and, BTW, sorry Chuck! You always know you are taking this risk of offending people. Thanks for doing it! May your kind be multiplied and may your courage stay strong.

Andrew Jones has blogged on this. It is worth the read.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    21 replies to "The Cursing Christian 2: Now my pastor needs soap in his mouth!"

    • richards

      Wow, Michael, you’ve really done it now. First you don’t like Christian music, now you’ve got potty mouth.

      Guess what? Me too. And for the same reason, but my dilemma has always been this: I wouldn’t talk that way at church, so why should I talk differently around someone else? Am I living a double life?

      I read the linked article, and also sliceoflaodacea’s take (who basically hates everyone [and the word “hate” is intentional]), and the argument for Ephesians 4:29 and 5:4 is put forth arbitrarily. What is offensive is often, but not always, culturally defined. When I was in Turkey, I could risk my life by offering to shake someone’s left hand, giving them the “I took your nose” sign that we play with kids, or crossing my legs in such a way that I exposed the soles of my feet. Yet, in western societies, taking offense at such things is laughable. When these Christians cannot draw a black-and-white line, they seem to have just drawn the line at the far extreme. If they can’t decide what is cultural, and what is not, then it must all be bad. Erring on the side of the pharisees, I suppose. Or perhaps the Essenes.

      While that is an extreme example, the concept applies within a culture as well. Unfortunately, the Christian sub-culture has already defined what is acceptable and what is not, and to defy their definitions is to defy God Himself. Chuck Swindoll does us a favor by showing that somethings can’t be said (we can think of some things he could have said but didn’t), and that somethings really are ok to say without falling into egregious sin.

      It is unfortunate that some have allowed these comments to negate his entire ministry.

    • tnahas


      Seriously who are you kidding? Curse words in a society has been developed in a culture to show disrespect for God. You are describing cultural attitudes that show disrespect to the individual. That is why in England a four-year boy when he heard that name “Jesus” and that a movie “The Jesus Film” was coming out said “why would they make a movie about a curse word?”

      He equated “Jesus” with a curse word. The Christian has a higher standard. Not only have been redeemed by Jesus but we are His ambassadors.

      Let’s act like one.

    • Chad Winters

      Taffy, can’t you at least cede the point that this “cultural christianity” thing can be taken too far? I think Jesus would call us Pharisees for a lot of this. The SBC won’t allow anyone in their Church to drink (which would mean they would not allow Jesus or most of the Apostles, or Martin Luther in), not long ago they didn’t allow dancing (David and a bazillion other christians would again be told they were sinning).

      The most important thing is that they ARE straining at gnats, they take things with poor biblical warrant and make them salvation level laws.

      Meanwhile they ignore clear commandments at the drop of a hat. They don’t love their fellow christians…..they lie…..they don’t feed the poor….they don’t love God with all their heart……etc..

    • Chad Winters

      I couldn’t believe that Piper had to apologize for saying God kicks our asses!! He does!! I would not have blinked an eye at that if I were there. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy

    • mjfreshoil

      Yes Micheal,

      You have done it again. Im just sorry that the so many of the believers that should get this message are not the ones that visit this site. Religion historically has not blended well with culture. The problem being most religious people dont reflect Christ but rather a code that may be a mix of Levitical law and denominational theology. I am a firm believer that Jesus requires us to be different from the world. I do not however believe that we should be legistlating those differences. The Holy Spirit is within to “guide us into all truth”. Sometimes I feel that we have forgotten to yield to the guidance of His Spirit, and instead yield to the guidance of religion, which at times is not very “spiritual”.

      I received Christ many years ago in a very old fashioned Penticostal church where women dressed in modest apparel according to an early 20th century model. This legalism turned alot of people away. When I asked one pastor why we try to define the way a person should dress, he told me because some people dont listen to the Holy Spirit, so we have to set a standard. I dont think that idea is very Biblical. After all, whats considered modest now, wasn’t then. And more importantly, whats modest on some, may not be modest on someone else. Sorry, the teacher side is coming out. The point is, in all of our isolationist philosophy, we have complelely left out the one who is supposed to be our guide.

      I am very happy when I see pastors such as Pastor Swindoll, and others challenge us to be godly without being religious bigots. My pastor offended someone when he was talking about how some people in the world treat Christians like a piece of used toilet paper. Opps. sorry. I hope I dont get kicked out for saying that. Again, thank you for indulging my rants, and challenging us to be not just better theologians, but better Christians.


    • tnahas

      As usual, as we all talk pass each other, let’s do a short review of the nonsense so far.

      The ones that try to live a godly life without hangin with the culture of the day, are characterized as follows: traditionalists, pharisees, religious bigots, moral supremists, legalists, Essenes etc etc.

      Now when did hangin with the culture be defined as sin? It is not necessarily sin to engage in the culture and be in the world as Michael advocates to reach the lost. Scripture allows us individually to call certain behaviour as sin, see Romans 14.

      My point is and was that we are under a higher standards than the culture. We are to avoid sin, ungodly living and live under grace not the Law and go out save the perishing.

      Consider any profession or calling like doctors, military, lawyers, pastors, especially Christian ministries where we dividing the Word of God and shepherding the flock, whether secular or Christian, these jobs require higher standards, so why not the Christian?

      Chad, did I ever say I was successful at trying to live this life? Yes of course the Christian subculture can go too far, that is why you must be discerning even of the Christian. BTW if they believe that this moral living will earn them salvation then they are clearly not saved.

    • ednasvg

      Thank you for your comments on potty mouth christian. Of later I have
      found that it has become a bit of a problem holding back those little choice
      words when I am expressing some things. Sometimes I go thru such guilt
      over it, so I find myself repenting and asking the Lord for help in that area.
      We are being stretched to the limit at times and the flesh manifest the truth
      that is in us and we get distraught about, but fire or pressure will bring forth
      the dross. Having said that, I will also say that there is a proper place for
      everything and a time also. With the Holy Spirit on board, Iam sure that he
      will discern our audience for us and lead and guide us in the right way to expre
      ss ourselves regardless. GOD’S word saids that if we walk in the spirit then
      we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. I am still learning how to submit myself
      the LORDSHIP OF Jesus Christ and to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

    • Threepwood

      Galatians 3:1, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”
      I’m just wondering how harsh that is in context. I recall seeing quite a few Shakespearean plays where calling someone a “fool” or “foolish”, especially a grown man, incited some sort of dual or at least a slap. It was pretty bad.
      Of course now, calling someone a “fool” will get you nothing but an odd look and people backing away. We don’t use it anymore. But what would be its equal? Perhaps the term “idiot”, which is a scientific state actually, (I believe with an I.Q. below 34 or something…) could be substituted or even something worse.

      There is no question that we are to guard our mouth, and absolutely never say the Lord’s name in vain, (even “Oh my g@$h” or “Oh g@!!y”. are his name, essencially.) however I wonder if that means that we can’t curse at all…meaning, not an actual curse word, but a comment stemming from pain or a sudden shock. Are we supposed to remain silent?

      (Quick side note, can an atheist say, “Oh my G@%!” ?)

      I always imagined the folks in the Bible as sort of non-human and without feeling – using perfect language as the writers did and quite honestly, almost sinless. I never imagined their feelings or Peter swearing because a really big fish got away while he was fishing. But the Bible is full of emotion (see the entire book of Job), especially when Christ made the whip and drove the traders out of the temple angrily (to say the least.) Jn 2:12-17. I’m am by no means saying that Christ swore at all, but I was struck by the “zeal” for God that we are to have, and that is an emotion in itself. Jesus calls Judas a “devil,” (Jn 6:70) because it is the truth, and Jesus is perfect. I’m sure that it offended a few of the desciples, though, who considered themselves quite clean.

      My point is that so long as it is the truth, and in no way blasphemes against our Lord and Savior, I think that using a term such as “a%%” in the correct context may get our point across better than saying “backside.” Whoever is listening knows that we mean the same thing anyway. Either say it, or nothing at all. I believe that we as Christians are supposed to say nothing at all, in that case. Though many of us do not, and expel from our mouth something or other.

      Personally, I dont’ swear, (I guess because I never learned it) but things do come out of my mouth such as “man!”, when I stub my toe. Once again, that derived, I believe, from it’s four letter rhyming word of “d#&n!” Isn’t that just as bad?

      At least we’re trying, and personally I would rather use the “cleaner” word, but they all mean essencially the same thing. I pray that the Holy Spirit empowers me to keep my mouth shut because we are to be examples and set ourselves apart. (see quoted scriptures in original article.)

      I guess that whole, “if you can’t say something nice…” thing is right.

    • kolabok21

      Some times your posts trouble me Michael. I have kind of posted on the two posts of yours, the sub-culture, Christian music and this, I can’t figure out the truth in all of this.
      We are to separate ourselves from the world not to be conformed to it, we are not to cause our weaker brother to stumble, yet we often indulge it, (no offense here, I have attempted the same) to do what, be more acceptable in language and action.
      But on the other hand I can relate to what you are saying about all the sub-culture phenomena, it is springing up every where, is just in America only?
      There is a fine line here and I wait for you to draw it in the sand!!!
      What you suggest can have an impact on a Christian’s walk. And I believe you point out correctly or maybe some one else (I only skimmed thru, been on vacation) that the focus point is in Jesus himself, the 4 H’s & W. Here in lies the answers to this stigma of the 21st century. Dr. Robert H. Stein has a book among others, “The Method & Message of Jesus Teachings” which I thought to be very helpful in my understanding of what you have proposed; I just can not swap out 1st AD with 21st AD. Some where down the line mankind has become higher than his own self, almost short of acknowledging a god like quality that anything goes attitude.
      I don’t know the worms are out of the can on this, but I am curious what the final say is from you,


      P.S. My mother has a pillow that reads, “Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt” I often think about that when my tongue gets ready to get me in trouble!!!

    • richards


      I’ve got news for you. I’ve known michael for a couple of years now, and if you are expecting him to give you any kind of final answer, forget it. He squirms like a…oh wait, that probably would cross the line.

      In fact, his response to your question would probably be something like “You’ve put your finger on a real problem…blah blah.” Well, that’s what I’d say anyway, and i’m squirmy, too.

      But you are right in saying that their is a fine line between becoming conformed to the world and creating a subculture, and that line is necessarily different depending on the culture in which we find ourselves.

    • nathanimal

      I think the christian sub-culture should quit choking on camels and move on to better things. I feel sorry for unbelievers who see this kinda crap. Which I know they do. Why should the christian sub-culture get to pick which words hold stronger potency. If I say “darn”, no one flinches, but if I say sh*t people have a heart attack.

      Whats wrong with this picture?

    • tiz

      It’s interesting, when reading through the comments on a blog post, how one specific topic can subtly begin to generalize.

      Obviously, I think, Michael wrote a great post with great thoughts about the issue of swearing and how it relates to the issue of a Christian subculture. But I think we, as self-examining Christians, ought to remember to deal with each “issue” individually, considering the particulars and not generalizing one gripe with another.

      I noticed a comment about clothing and modesty, which, to me, is a separate issue. There’s a separate list of arguments for and against modesty in clothing, and the degrees of modesty, and how it relates to Biblical instruction or sin issues. The same with music, Sunday morning attire, tithe, and the whole lot. Whether each of these are included in the do’s and don’ts of a/the Christian subculture is irrelevant to their legitimacy as a real issues. Basically, I just mean to suggest the idea that a Christian subculture is a by-product of the religious’izing (yes, I made that word up) of particular issues, not a concerted effort to create a subculture and in doing so adopting some “by-laws” like “no cussing.”

      I think the reason this kind of post, and this kind of dialogue, is so valuable is that we really think about the issues. We really examine them, hopefully through the lens of Scripture and good sense.


    • iakobusdoulos

      What would have been said of John Bunyan? He had a sailors mouth (from what I’ve heard, I did not know him personally). I feel that if you are p*ssed off and want to relieve tension by inserting an expletive, go ahead and fly off the handle. You may sound uneducated to others but you can make it up in time;-)

    • PGCC

      As a youth pastor at a mid-sized church, in the conservative Midwest, the Deacons thought it would be great for us to do a Superbowl Party. Now, I’d done them at other churches but was concerned about doing one here for reasons similar to what you’ve written about. I explained that if we were going to do a Superbowl Party, it had to be outreach-oriented. They agreed and said this was exactly why they wanted to do one. They wanted me to contact the cable company and arrange for cable in the church for the big weekend. I then told them I wanted to do it away from the church because of the Sunday evening worship service (that was still going to be going on upstairs in the sanctuary) and I knew some people would have a problem with some of the kids we’d attract. I explained my concerns and gave them some examples of things they might see (maybe even some vulgar language and t-shirts). They insisted that we do it at the church and they assured me they wouldn’t mind.

      We went all out with a paper football tournament… the whole nine yards. Just before halftime, I noticed a group of kids that I had really connected well with were leaving. I asked a few of our kids what had happened and they told me that one of the Deacons (who was at that meeting and had assured me there would be no problems with what I described as possible scenarios) had gotten all over a kid for wearing a Motley Crue t-shirt.

      And, that as they say, was all she wrote. We never recovered from that incident while I or the former leadership team was in place. I can thankfully say that I’ve followed the church a little through their website and they are now approaching mega-church numbers but only after they’ve changed church buildings and leadership.

      I wish we didn’t work so hard to shoot ourselves in the foot all the time!!!

    • Chad Winters

      Does this mean I have to get rid of Crue shirt?
      Say it isn’t so!!!

    • […] or tell you the difference between the New Testament and the Old Testament. With all the talk about cursing pastors and the evolution of swearing going on in the blogsphere, I thought that I would try to contribute […]

    • SuseADoodle

      This time I did read all of the comments before posting mine.

      Two issues were raised — no, three.

      (1) One comment states it is wrong to bring in other issues into this discussion, such as modesty of dress in a discussion of language. However, the root of the “rules” in both areas is the same —
      It is much easier to make a rule than to teach a congregation of sinners how to listen to the Holy Spirit and be led by Him; and, “power” is lost when the final decision on whether a behavior is right or wrong is given to someone else to determine.
      This is why so many churches that claim to be led by the Holy Spirit, or claim to not be legalistic because we are saved by grace but “good Christians” follow these rules, are the most legalistic places on earth.

      (2) Being a “stumbling block.” OY!
      As I grew up in a legalistic church, this was presented as not going to movies because someone might see you in line at the new duplex cinema and wrongly assume you were going to the PG movie (while you were in line for G movie aqll along) and be led to believe it was okay for them to go to that movie and thereby sin. That someone might be either another believer who wasn’t as well founded in faith as you were or even a non-believer. Hmm … Can I make an unbeliever any less unsaved by stopping him from sinning? (I won’t say anything about how farcical that arument was about a PG movie being a sin in the first place.) Can I make him any more unsaved by letting an unsaved person know I like Disney movies (but not their politics)?
      In its full context, the passage about being a stumbling block refers to causing a Believer to once again accept the tyrrany of Law rather than the freedom of Grace.

      Well, I thought I had three points — maybe they blended together in those two.

      Jesus would call us all Pharisees. They, like the Puritans, started as a movement to cleanse the Temple of all the wrong things happening there (like the selling of the priesthood, etc.). Over the years, they became more and more interested in the outward appearance and the “letter of the Law” than in the heart of worship.

      Maya Angelou writes how her grandmother beat her brother for “taking the Lord’s name in vain” when he said “By the way, did you know …?” because Jesus is “the Way.”

      I’d rather be a real person, warts and sins and all, than a Pharisee any day. G@sh dern it!

    • Larry Cornell

      I think the OP is confusing two separate things. Tolerating a bit of foul language from someone who does not walk with the Lord is a different then than a senoir pastor purposely speaking in a way that does not impart grace to the hearers. This trend of speaking as the world does is not good. Accepting that those in the world did not intend to personally insult you because they use explicatives is correct. However, I have now heard two pastors from separate local churches dirty it up. One used the most vulgar word for dung to describe being full of something when he could have used a dozen other phrases. A fleshly moment or a calculated step, or perhaps a manifestation of a demon? Another pastor while talking about the Geresene Demoniac in the main service of a small church I attended said the young man might have had something wrong with his scrotum. He did this as a supposed mistake in terms of some other word, but I immediately recognized that Jesus did not talk that way even to his buds.

      I think the emergence of cursing in the pulpit is a sign that the Lord is giving the church over because we refuse to truly do the work of the gospel. Christianity is about an honest relationship with God in Jesus Christ and others who know Him. It is based on the plain teachings of Scripture and sincere love. Once American christianity became about programs and numbers the end was close in sight. I predict that by the time the Lord returns there will be stanic high priests running many of the largest ‘christian’ churches in the country. But the Lord will deliver his faithful from the snare.

    • Jeff Ayers

      Our youth pastor uses phrases in the pulpit that make me wonder if he does it ignorantly or blatantly….such as:

      Brown noser
      Scum bag


      Does anyone on this board NOT know the source and actual meaning of being a brown noser or what a scum bag actually is?

      I told my wife I should talk to the YP privately about this, in case he really did not know the etymology (and actual meaning) of these phrases.
      She exclaimed ‘NO YOU ARE NOT’

      Also, back in the 1980’s Phil Kidd, an evangelist in the hard core IFB circles, ( http://www.drphilkidd.com )made a name for himself with his “cussing” in the pulpit.

      His sermon titles were peppered with colorful phrases:
      “12 asses I cannot plow with” (Deut 22:10)

      “baptist bastards” (Heb 12:8)

      “hunt a homo” (Lev. 20:13)

      And on a personal note, being in construction, I made a decision to respond to a moron with some colorful language. It got his attention (as he had never heard me cuss before).
      But it opened a flood gate; and it has been very difficult to put the Genie back in the bottle.

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Michael, you can’t always be right, and I’m afraid you missed it on this one. There is one very good reason right up front to avoid crude, coarse, offensive, obscene language, and it is that we are directed in the New Testament to avoid it. Some of the following verses do not specifically instruct concerning obscenities and profanity, but some of them do, and others exhort to a quality of speech that the nasty stuff just doesn’t measure up to..
      Here they are: Titus 2:8, Titus 3:2, Eph. 4:29, Eph 5:4, Eph 5:12, Rev. 22:11, Col. 3:8, Col. 4:6.

      And besides this, I’ll just bet you didn’t let your children pick up this sort of speech when they were small. Isn’t there something that makes us recoil from the thought of a four year old spewing out obscenities?

      And if for no other reason, might we not more wisely clean up the tongue in the presence of older people who are just plain uncomfortable in a vernacular discussion of body parts and body functions? After all, there is a scriptural directive that the younger are to be subject to the elder (I suspect a lot of “younger” didn’t know that one was in there). (I Peter 5:5.)

      Maybe we ought to have such discussions at the dinner table??

      NO, I can’t buy it. Vulgarity and crudeness bring down a culture to vulgarity and crudeness, and a vulgar and crude society speaks vulgarly and crude. I’m with John MacArthur on that one, it should not be practiced by the people in the pews, and certainly should not be heard from the pulpit.
      Remember, mist in the pulpit, fog in the pews.
      Brother Stumblefoot

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Michael, I’m not sure my Christian “gentleness” came out very well in my post. I do feel strongly taht this “cussin preacher” thing is not good, and that it is taking the pulpit in the wrong direction.

      Truth to be told, we Christians are a sub culture, whether we like it or not.

      And a Christian can (and many do) choose not to use the
      jaw breaker language and yet be gracious and non-legalistic.

      And Hey, Jacobus! (post #13) I think you’re exactly wrong about John Bunyan having a foul mouth. “Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox Babe,” maybe, but not John Bunyan. Be careful about starting rumors about Christians
      on hearsay from people who have an ax to grind.

      But here i go again, not real gentle. Forbearance please, I feel strongly. Brother Stumblefoot

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