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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, May 26, 2006
The "Subjectivity" Cop Out.
A while ago I posted my thoughts on the current "worldly" trend infecting the university Christian crowd - that being the potty mouth trend. I suggested that idea that foul language was actually just grown up language was in fact false.

I certainly wasn't the first on the scene, and I won't be the last. But as it happens, Phil Johnson happened to remark about "how recalcitrant some Christians these days can be in defending their indefensible use of bad language" in response to the meta from one of my posts. It happens that the fellow Phil was likely referring to as "recalcitrant" is one of the founders and administrators of a message board that I moderate. He started a new topic in the "Christian walk" forum called "thoughts on profanity" - wherein he basically agreed with some of what Phil had to say (but remained convinced that swearing was okay) and thereafter mused openly as to whether or not the meta at my blog was indeed volatile, and further whether he himself had come across as volatile (Phil had actually said that it was the "issues" that were volatile).

I suppose I stirred it up a bit when I reaffirmed my own opinions on the matter - pointing out that while it is true that one can be profane without using X-rated words - that is, that if the intent of the heart is to be profane - one can do so using an unpolluted vernacular - yet we cannot say that because the intent of the heart can turn unpolluted words foul - that profanity is entirely a question of the heart.

I also cautioned that "No one who is fleeing from sin will play games in the name of "liberty" to see how close they can get to sinning without actually stepping over the line." - that is, I wanted this to be understood - Christian liberty is never liberty to offend others.

In particular one user took umbridge at my saying, "While it is true that the intent of the heart can allow you to say something profane without using profane 'language' - that doesn't prove that there is no such thing as 'profane language' " - and suggested that because words are culturally defined and can change in definition they cannot have an objective meaning.

My answer to that was, and I quote, "Hogwash - if that were true there wouldn't be any dictionaries."

The trouble with saying that words have no objective meaning is that faster than you can say "Post modernism is infecting the church" you set self up as the authority on what is and what isn't moral, instead of God.

I am hopelessly leery of any philosophy which (when argued sufficiently) allows us to set aside some part of scripture so that we can embrace the way of the world and do so telling ourselves that we haven't compromised.

If we don't cuss around children, or cuss when we pray - can we sincerely hold a view that words themselves are not vulgar? I have no respect for anyone who argues in the stratosphere what out to be rubber on the road. Christianity is not an intellectual exercise, and I absolutely detest it when people reason away scripture so that they can be like the world - then in a baffling display of self-delusion - act like you are the one that doesn't know right from wrong. The "liberty train" was never meant to run on rails of offense to others.


posted by Daniel @ 9:44 AM  
15 Comments:
  • At 11:32 AM, May 26, 2006, Blogger Carla said…

    And amen to that, Daniel.

    I've written about this many times, and every time I do I get more and more professing Christians trying to argue with me about why cussing & swearing is okay, why cussing isn't actually cussing, why swearing isn't profanity and why profanity isn't vulgarity.

    To which I say:

    BALONEY!

    More and more excuses all the time, to speak like the world, and sound like the world.

    I really wish more of these "defenders of the potty mouth" would grow up, clean up their act and actually act like Christians.

    It's getting harder and harder to tell them apart from the unbelievers.

    Spooky, eh?

    SDG...

     
  • At 1:21 PM, May 26, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Indeed - it never seems to be the soul winners with the potty mouths - coincidence?

     
  • At 5:22 PM, May 26, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    You always hear, "It depends on whose listening".

    Well, yeah, in a different culture a certain word or phrase may mean something offensive, but you are here, not there, so the point is irrelevant.

    The question is, as always, "does it honor God?"

    They cannot honestly answer that in the affirmative.

    Instead of trying to justi-fy ourselves, we should just-deny ourselves.

     
  • At 9:18 PM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Amen, again, Daniel! I'm still in hearty agreement with you on this issue!

    In Christ,

    Bobby Grow

     
  • At 9:38 PM, May 26, 2006, Blogger contratimes said…

    [Clever play on "justify" there, Even So.]

    Dear Doulogos,

    In essence, I agree with you. There is the whole damnable idea of being a spring that spouts forth both fresh and foul water: it is hard to accept Christian temperance violating the law of contradiction. But I have a couple of challenges (perhaps).

    First, however, I would just point out that your interlocuter, who "suggested that because words are culturally defined and can change in definition they cannot have an objective meaning", might have been better served had you not referred to the dictionary at all. For it is quite clear that the suggestion is self-contradictory: If words possess no objective meaning the statement itself is without objective meaning. Hence, we find ourselves awash in meaninglessness, where meaningful communication ceases. In other words, your interlocuter meant that ALL words except his (or hers) suffer a lack of objective import; but you were to take her/his words as rife with objective solidity. The double standard, and the contradiction, are clear.

    But dictionaries do not exist to show us how words MUST be used. They merely show us HOW words are used. All dictionaries are produced/edited/published by folks sitting on usage panels. Such panels, full of etymologists, philologists and linguists (one hopes), merely permit into dictionaries words and definitions that are indeed part of the linguistic parlance of some language group. New words are added all of the time, as are new meanings. A classic example of a word's evolution is the word "nice", which once meant foolish, ignorant, incapable. Surely that is not how the word is USED today.

    Language IS indeed dynamic, elastic, changing. The very word 'eytomology' implies that words have histories, that they evolve. But it does not follow that language is thus without objective meaning.

    In the first comment to this post Carla used the word "Baloney." What does that even mean? Is it not a synonym for bovine feces? Is it not, at least, INTENDED to be a G-rated synonym for BS, not unlike how "Gosh" is longhand for God, and "Jeepers" stands in for Jesus? I know that I used to rip using the words freaking and stinking; but to be honest, if I could have used stronger words, I would have. In short, my heart was using wildly offensive language, while my tongue showed restraint. But what comes out of a man is what matters most, right? Or so we are told.

    Are there things that should be damned; are there things that God should indeed damn? How about murder, or disease, or a lust that destroys? If I said, "God, damn rape," is that using God's name in vain? Or is it the man who automatically, like a robot, says "Praise God" or "Hallelujah" that is using God's name in vain?

    I think that Jesus clearly used strong language -- where and when it mattered. I recall my New Testament profs telling me that "White-washed tombs full of dead men's bones" and "brood of vipers" were about as offensive as one could get: the English equivalents are unprintable here. St. Paul wishes in Sacred Scripture that the Galatian Judaizers would, well, emasculate themselves with a slip of the knife. Strong language is part of the prophetic life: there are things that do not merit God's kindest but rather his most offending language.

    I at times strain for words to express my outrage at sin. I cannot tell you what I mutter under my breath every time I look at a passenger jet cutting through a crystal blue sky, for it is positively raw, rubbed that way by the despicable acts of September 11. Some things should not be spoken of with language that elevates those things. Some things deserve contempt; some things should not be dignified with sweet speech.

    This in no way is a defense of casual obscenity or profanity. It is instead a defense of profanity that profane things deserve. That people care so little about their day-to-day language proves, at the very least, that some folks do not deserve the riches all languages possess. Sadly, too many Christians defend casual profanity not because they really believe their conviction that it is acceptable; they defend it because they are lazy. Precision in speech and letter requires attention, concentration, even giftedness. But that is asking too much of too many. Give them their hip-hop heroes who -- while creating new meanings -- destroy the great words that lie dormant on the back of their tongues (or in dictionaries never used). Give them an instant, simple street lexicon, giving them "street cred" and their due "props" as "relevant." To hell, literally, with all that grandiloquence that is at the very heart of creation: God SPOKE creation into existence, and HE did so with excess and pomp. The created world is the manifestation of God's words, His very speech. And since we are made in His image we can either use language to further ornament the cosmos, or we can detract from it with all the force of black holes spilling over fallen lips.

    "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…". It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out.

    Peace.

    Bill Gnade

     
  • At 10:03 PM, May 26, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Contra, well said.

    That being said...

    I guess you could say that certain types of language in certain settings could indeed honor God, but of course, as we all seem to agree so far, that isn't what we are talking about, but those lazy (good call, contra) folk who just want to add flavor, act hip, cool, relevant, or whatever.

    The Lord knows exactly whether or not they are doing it in a proper manner, etc., but I believe we know foul when we smell it, and we are supposed to be a sweet smelling savor, not a foul smelling flavor in
    His nostrils.

    It is the immature we are speaking of, no? The mature would have the discretion and discernment to know when to use the necessary words, as it were, and no one would call them on it, case in point being Carla's "baloney". No harm, no foul.

    However, your twelve year old coming into Bible study and demanding the right to say an overly coarse version of Paul's "cut 'em off" story would be rightly reprimanded.

    It is in a sense a matter of degree, and we know what the truth is. We just can't quantify it, but upon hearing it, we can qualify it.

    Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.

     
  • At 12:09 AM, May 27, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bill - thanks for the comment, I sympathize with what you're saying; One example of emphatic speech is found in Philipians 3:8 where Paul now refers to those things which he formerly regarded as gain as being "skubala" - a word that can be translated as "dung." Of course in English there exists stronger language than "dung" to describe the same stuff - just as there were stronger words than "skubala" in Paul's day. The point is that when we say "Bologna" or "Hogwash" instead of "skubala" we are using making the same emphasis without using coarser language.

    True - polite words can mask impolite 'speech' - such that we are wildly offensive at heart, but deceitfully unoffensive outwardly - I hope we have been careful to not suggest otherwise.

    I confess, while I can intellectually appreciate the fringe arguments offered by the pro-cussing crew, I cannot imagine any genuinely obedient believer hiding behind their own, home made intellectual ghetto such that, like Balaam before them, they think they can live in the world, with the world, and like the world - even justifying themselves in doing so - and still tell themselves when they go to sleep each night that they have done nothing wrong.

    It is my passion to see holiness in Christianity, as opposed to stubborn, "intellectually justified" worldliness.

    Thanks again for your thoughts on the matter Bill - the are muchly appreciated.

     
  • At 1:01 AM, May 29, 2006, Blogger marc said…

    I couldn't disagree more Daniel. Of course, when I say disagree I mean agree.

    BTW, Do you think Carla cares about this issue? ;-)

     
  • At 9:43 AM, May 29, 2006, Blogger 4given said…

    I just wrote something on words and communication that was the hardest post I have ever written. As a matter of fact. I re-read it early this morning and realized how awful it was and attempted to re-write it.
    That is what I like about this blogospere. Yes, you find people that defend things that to me are so baffling... like the use of a potty mouth by proclaiming or self-proclaiming God followers. But what a fantastic refining tool this blogoshere is in learning how to defend and articulate what you beleive and why.
    Thank you for this post.

     
  • At 12:19 PM, May 29, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    It shows me how far some people are willing to go to have their cake and eat it too. And by cake I mean chicken of course, and by people I mean chickens as well, but red ones.

     
  • At 12:08 AM, May 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I receive the Tozer Insight for Leaders. This was the devotional for today.
    "Preaching: Off-color Humor

    Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers....
    neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
    --Ephesians 4:29; 5:4

    One of the most shocking things in the church is the dirty-mouthed Christian who always walks on the borderline. There is no place for borderline stories that embarrass some people, and there is nothing about sex or the human body that is funny if your mind is clean.

    There was once a gathering of officers, and George Washington was present in the room. One of the young officers began to think about a dirty story that he wanted to tell, and he got a smirk on his face. He looked around and said, "I'm thinking of a story. I guess there are no ladies present." Washington straightened up and said, "No, young man, but there are gentlemen." The young officer shut his mouth and kept the dirty story inside his dirty head and heart.

    Anything you could not tell with Jesus present, do not tell.
    Anything you could not laugh at were Jesus present, do not laugh at. Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 67.

    "What an important reminder, Lord! Keep my thoughts pure so that the 'dirty story' might never enter in the first place, and then I'll never be tempted to share it inappropriately. Amen."

    Just thought it was appropriate to this line of conversation. Remembering he wrote this in the 50s - what would he say today?
    Eunice

     
  • At 10:04 AM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Eunice - Leave it to Tozer to cut to the heart of the matter.

    The problem we are running up against in today's postmodern culture is the idea that words have no objective meaning ergo, corrupt speech has nothing to do with word choice, and is only and ever a product of a corrupt intention.

    That sounds good I suppose if you are philosophically inclined, and willing to entertain nonsense as though it were legitimate - but frankly, it is as wrong as it is novel. The problem today isn't that people are willing cuss - it is that people are denying that cuss words exist (as remarkable and unbelievable as that may seem).

    I don't know if I am more amazed at the odacity of our enemy in putting forwards such a ridiculous premise - or the fact that (otherwise intelligent) people buy into it.

     
  • At 10:46 AM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, a dirty mouth reveals a dirty mind, and a dirty mind reveals a divided and uncircumcised heart.

    We are to cleave ourselves from our former manner of living. The product of a godly life is godly speech and actions.

    We should never sacrifice holiness for relevancy.

    God bless,
    Jim

     
  • At 1:15 PM, May 30, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Amen Jim. I find it remarkable that people in whom the Spirit of God is supposed to dwell don't see it.

     
  • At 5:21 PM, June 12, 2006, Blogger Melchizedek said…

    You never did tell me what your objective standard is.

     
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