Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why don't Christians swear or gossip?

In a few months I'm giving a seminar on the above title.

Where to begin? First thing that occurs to me is that, in my experience, we Christians often do both - maybe we swear in our own language and we gossip with good motives, but nonetheless we do do them. We are warned about our speech - not to slander, or indulge in coarse talk or to bit and devour... but why? Why is that out of step with gospel living? How would you approach this subject? How can I give a gospel-grace motivated answer?

Answers on a postcard, or at least in comments... please!


  1. God places great value on words. value.

    Words are very powerful, being used for blessing or for curse.

    He spoke, and the world came into existance.

    He speaks, and demons throw themselves off a cliff.

    He refers to his own Son in the gospel of John as the Word.

    He expects the same holy communication from his people.

  2. Gossip is horrendously common in Christian circles. And name dropping too. Shameful how it can open doors.

  3. At church last week the preacher mentioned James 3 which has obvious relevance. Anyway the thing that really shook me was v.9:

    "With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God."

    To gossip, and other ways in which we use our tongues as weapons, is horrible exactly because those we attack (and that sort of language is appropriate even for gossip) are not just God's creatures, but like him. So, like in Gen 9:6, not honouring and loving and our neighbour is similar to blasphemy of our perfect God.

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is what reveals God to us most clearly. Our God is a God of awesome love and when we see that God clearly then we love those made in his image - particularly his church (as 1 John talks about).

    I blogged recently on 1 John. It is not a great post but 1 John would be an brilliant place to bring your Seminar. Why do we love after all... 'because he first loved us' How do we know what love is... 'that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers'.

    The danger in these type of seminars is that it is too narrowly focused and doesn't set it in the setting of the massive subject of love.

    Sorry a bit rambling.

    Oh as a final thing, this post has a good quote from Luther on it all. Similar to something I remembering Simeon saying I think.

  4. Tom - I think you're right. There is a fine line / great chasm between things being done relationally and trading in name-dropping.

    DK - James had come to mind. I'll have a read of your stuff on 1 John. Thanks. It's one of a series so I've got to match narrow with broad.. but the grace/love context is essential.

  5. I wonder if one of the things u might need to briefly deal with is the idea that words do actually carry meaning, and why they do.

    Also, carrying on from sf - the fact that God uses words to create/build/shape, and we're to use them to build the people of God, seems to have some relevance here perhaps? To use our words to curse those that shouldn't be cursed is a sort of act of de-creation.

  6. The meaning of words is one I'm interested in.... Christians may often not use conventional swear words but actually many swear just as much but using a christianese swear word instead...

    The value of words has got to be massive in this. When we swear we usually use words to destroy people, also in gossip and slander. Sometimes of course you want to say that what you used to love is now dung... or that life is painfully meaningless... could a swear word actually be appropriate in such a context...

  7. It seems to me, that words are reflective not just, of the intent of the speaker, or communicator. They also, reflect, in an automatic and unintended way, something of the character or heart of the communicator.

  8. Tom - absolutely. Likewise he who is The Word of God reveals the heart of God. In fact, that's the thing that establishes it - our words also express our heart, which is why the answer to the question is "they do" and the answer has to be found in the heart-replacing gospel of grace.