If you’ve listened or read to much material from pastors like Perry Noble, Steven Furtick or Gary Lamb, you’ve been exposed to a great deal of profanity. A search for “crap” turns up 141 pages on Noble’s blog, 145 for Lamb and 102 for Furtick (and now at least one for me). That’s commitment to the cause.
The incidence of this kind of language is a blight on the pulpit and on the church, and it sends exactly the type of message that no pastor should want to be associated with.
- It testifies against sanctification. One of my first online introductions to Perry Noble came through this account of a conversation he had with his pal, Gary Lamb (yes, the same guy who breathes out murderous threats against the church). He had asked Perry how many people he thought might attend the first Unleash conference.
His response was (and Jason Moorhead was there to prove it) that if 300 people showed up he would “crap his pants” and if 400 people showed up he would eat his underwear. Well, I am assuming since he said he would crap his pants he was meaning those were the pants he would eat. SO that has me motivated to make sure 400 people are there.
They are at a little over 200 now. We are taking between 30-40 people so we need some other churches to step up. I personally would find it funny to see Perry eat his crap filled pants.
BTW, I am only slightly joking.
How can either of these men credibly teach people about purity, sobriety or self control?
- It treats culture as an elevated source. After I had criticized NewSpring’s youth pastor for using the BAMF epithet against the church, the defense, such as it was, was that this was a term that had been popularized by a television comedian. These are people who excuse their refusal to use the word Christian because it is only used a few times in the Bible and may have been created by people who weren’t themselves Christians; however, language that they hear in an HBO special is uncritically adopted.
- It twists Scripture. Some pastors point to Philippians 3:8 and say that Paul used a word akin to shit or crap, so they can use similar words for shock value themselves. Matt Colvin researched the actual use of the word, skubalon, and found that it was generally used by Greek authors in a medical context (i.e. faeces), or to refer to household refuse that’s thrown to the dogs (compost or scraps) or agricultural uses (manure). It means something useless that is thrown away. It was not used by the Greeks in comedy or other bawdy literature. In other words, it was not used to shock or titillate the way that our cussing pastors use similar words today.
- It trashes the audience. If someone is a guest in my home, or a visitor to my office, I generally expect that they will watch their mouth and speak civilly as a mark of respect. If you started with the gutter talk, I would assume you thought I was as low-brow as you. What do cussing pastors tell their congregations, who are members of Christ’s body, about what they think about them when they replace theology with scatology?
- It terminates creativity. These cussing pastors generally pride themselves on their ability to present the Gospel in new and creative ways. Why, then, resort to the most unoriginal and base language around? As someone said,
Swearing is the outlet of the unimaginative, the dull of wit.
- It titillates instead of trains. It seems as though some preachers can’t teach a lesson without trying to spice it up with something that will shock. A case in point is a personal lesson by Steven Furtick about propriety in witnessing. Everything was going well until he got to the point of his lesson with this sentence:
What the crap would make me so self-conscious that I would stop talking to my wife about the God who means everything because somebody might think I’m one of those weird Christians?
Who talks like that? The profanity seems so contrived as to suggest that the only reason it was there was because he was reaching the end of the post and needed to drop something unsavory into it.
- It taints teaching. I and many others enjoy the teachings of Mark Driscoll, yet the crudity and language that seeps into his speech make it difficult to fully embrace what he does. It’s like being treated by a doctor who keeps wiping his runny nose with the back of his hand. He probably knows what ails you, but you’ll always wonder if he knows what ails him.
- It trivializes our witness. Lowering our standards of conversation to the world’s is not any way to communicate a call to holiness. The implication is that when you become a Christian, you really won’t have to change many of your current vices if you don’t want to, because–look at us–we’re pastors; when they told us we were going to be fishers of men, we thought we needed to be able to swear like fishermen as well. The message (intended, I think) is, Our God is just as badass as your gods, so why not make the switch?
- It intoxifies the preacher. Letting so much poison flow out of your mouth has to have deleterious effects on the soul. God apparently thinks so, according to James 3:6. John McArthur does too:
Many of the world’s favorite fads are toxic, and they are becoming increasingly so as our society descends further in its spiritual death-spiral. It’s like a radioactive toxicity, so while those who immerse themselves in it might not notice its effects instantly, they nevertheless cannot escape the inevitable, soul-destroying contamination. And woe to those who become comfortable with the sinful fads of secular society.
Profanity from the pulpit is a multiple-victim offense. It corrupts everybody.