The Gospel & Online Profanity

There are few things that bother me to the point of causing me to actually lose sleep.  The casual use of expletives and swearwords by Christians is one of those things.  Anyone who knows me well knows that it’s something that has bothered me for a while.  I don’t intend for this to be a long post, nor a particularly angry one; I simply intend to state clearly (and Biblically) that Christians – particularly those in public or authoritative positions – who actively decide to use profanity in online forums are doing critical harm to the gospel message and should either get their acts together or step down from those positions.

I’ve only been teaching at a Christian school for two years, but this is not my first rodeo.  I’ve worked with other Christians at summer camps, day camps, daycare centres, schools, churches, youth groups, worship teams, and on retreats.  I have teens and young adults who are my Facebook friends, who follow me on Twitter, and who read this blog regularly.  Upon invitation, I sometimes have the opportunity to read their blogs as well.

Let’s not play games, and let’s not act surprised.  Christians swear on Facebook.  They use profanities on Twitter.  They drop the F bomb on their blogs.  And I’m getting tired of it.

I’m not a better person than you.  I’m not holier, more righteous, any of that jazz.  I won’t pretend that I’ve never sworn.  I won’t pretend that I never do anymore.  I hate it, and I try to avoid it as much as possible, but I’m as prone to sin as anyone else.  But I think there’s a key difference.  You have time to think over what you type.  You have to press ENTER or TWEET or PUBLISH before your words hit the web.  When you take that time and still choose profanity you’re essentially saying that you condone the use of filthy language.  You consent to it.  You agree with it.  You say “amen” to it.

That bothers me.

How can you consent to the public use of profanity and publicly proclaim the gospel message? Don’t bother answering; the Bible says you can’t:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. James 3:10

No unwholesome talk.  No filthy language.  You can’t sing Praise the Name of Jesus and then tweet OMG, FML.  I see this stuff too much, and it grieves my heart to its core.  Hypocrisy is a fancy word we like to use far too freely, but here it applies perfectly.  If this is you then I am calling you a hypocrite, and I want you to know that you’re embarrassing yourself, you’re disappointing me, and you’re disgracing the gospel.  I would not want you preaching in my church, leading worship in my congregation, or teaching my kids in Sunday School.

People will respond to this post in three ways.  Most people – by nature of who reads the blog – will agree with me wholeheartedly.  Some will simply not see my point; for them swearing out loud is not a big deal, and neither is doing it online.  A third group will read this and, while they might get mad at first, they will eventually feel convicted.  If you’re in that third group, God bless you!  Your role in God’s plan is too big for you to squander your credibility by swearing on your blog or by cursing on Facebook.  God wants to use you to share his Word, and the name of his Son, Jesus. Keep it clean.

Matthew Westacott, OWI Youth Leader

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