Some Thoughts on a Christian's Use of Harsh Language

John Piper raised some eyebrows and caused some keystrokes in the blog world when he recently used the word 'a--' during a breakout session at the Passion 07 conference. He has since said that he regrets using the phrase. He has even posted an email from Wayne Grudem on his website which I think makes it all the more clear that J.P. recognizes his error.

I think that for the most part people are making a big deal out of a small offense. However, this is no surprise when you couple the notoriety of Piper with the vast number of self-proclaimed watchdog bloggers sitting around in their mother's basements (if I may borrow a phrase from Mark Driscoll) looking to expose everyone else's sin.

But the whole thing, and in particular the Grudem email, has caused me to step back and take a look at my own use of language. I wouldn't say that I have a foul mouth by any means, but the standard of Christ in Scripture is much higher than just never saying 'a--.'

Read these verses compared to the stuff that usually come out of your mouth.
  • (ESV) Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
  • (ESV) Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
  • (ESV) Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
I find myself coming far short of these lofty standards often. Too easily I fall into the trap of listening and laughing at a crude joke or participating in conversation that is neither edifying nor beneficial to anyone. The words of my mouth are a harsh reminder of the lack of transformation in my heart. Which is exactly why I need Jesus.

So, this is my prayer. May you and may I become the kind of people whose talk is filled with thanksgiving to God and whose speak builds others up until they are filled with faith. May we be the kind of men and women whose mouth reflect the transformation of our hearts so that we may spread the amazing grace of God to all who hear us.