Observations through the doorway – the naughty step


naughty-step

This morning I used a word of four letters describing a bowel movement. In the same sentence as God.  In a post all about God.  And used it several times.

In the moment of communion that word was right and proper.  In the hours since pressing publish that word remains right and proper.

Seeing as God hears every thought and unspoken word I guess he is familiar with a wider vocabulary than anyone of us can ever achieve – even with a lifetime of study.

And seeing as Jesus partied with sinners and the social outcasts, I guess he heard more choice language in three short years than a lot of us hear in a lifetime. Yet he made a bee-line for them every time.

The bible has been sanitised as most written language is. The church has been sanitised as holy places are. Our vocabulary is sanitised for public consumption if we are of a certain age and certain culture.

In a cold dark car-park I hear the “foul language” no-no list (and usually some new extras) in just two short hours. So a four-letter word describing a bowel movement barely registers. It is the way people speak as a matter of course. Who never think they are being coarse. Who text the same as they speak. Who message each other as they speak. Who then try and remember to “button it” for us sensitive souls from the church.

But this is not a rant against censoring free speech. Nor is it a defence of foul language.

It is a ponder through the doorway …

When we take offence, more often than not we take offence on behalf of someone we think will be offended, or of something we believe is offensive. Too often in my life and relationship with the Lord I have found we (Christians) are very easily offended on His behalf because we have been taught to be very easily offended (on His behalf).

And I have found that the more we are offended on His behalf, the more I am expected to insulate and isolate Him from those who need Him the most.  And that is my category.  I am that category.  I need Him the most.  But I also find it is a category less easily offended – on behalf of God – or each other – or on behalf of each other.

So I wonder this ….

The more we insulate and isolate Him … the more we are offended on His behalf …

Do we worship more and more a distant and lifeless icon?  Might we just suck a little life out of the very God we give our lives to every time we take offence on His behalf so easily?  And might we then present that as “The God who is offended” to others (and each other).

Because just what might one of those who is never coarse as a matter of course think as they stumble across a post with a four-letter word describing a bowel movement in the same sentence as “God”?

Might they be offended or intrigued?  Might they be curious or offended?  I have no answer.

All I do know is this …

 

no-door

 

On the other side of the doorway very little causes offence to the Lord we worship from afar.

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8 thoughts on “Observations through the doorway – the naughty step

  1. “Skubalon”

    Not exactly a four letter word, not in Greek anyway, but it gives us cause for pause as a bit of foul language. St. Paul uses it in Phil. 3:8, and our modern translations often translate it as RUBBISH or GARBAGE. But perhaps DUNG would be best. And really, no matter how it is translated, it is a coarse word meant to convey coarseness in the message it encapsulates.

    The same apostle tells us not to use unwholesome talk, coarse jesting and so forth. St. James seems to catch some of that in his exposition of the unbridled tongue. So, yeah… the Bible seems intent on controlling this stuff we call four letter language. And, really, I am inclined to think that is best – even though I learned to talk bad as a kid and sometime as known to let it fly when impassioned. I am not excusing myself, but confessing. I am guilty too. I am working on it.

    Yeah, I remember how I NEVER used such language until one day in Jr. High an older kid made sport of me in front of some friends because I did not use it. I walked home ashamed of myself for being so clean! How ironic is that??? So, I began practicing this unholy habit then. And it came out so awkward at first. Wish I had that innocence back….

    But. Then I went to Bible school where such language was never used and took 3 years of Greek from Bible prof’s who also never used such language. But some of my classmates and I had an awareness of Paul’s use of Skubalon and it’s meaning and this gave us a chance to inquire from the learned prof’s! And in 3 years, I had 3 different prof;s who supplied 3 different lectures when pressed for it.

    At first it was us Bible students making sport of the prof’s getting them to use the word SHIT and then lecture us on it. I mean, these Ph.D. profs NEVER used such language in front of anyone ever. I cant imagine any of them using it in the privacy of their own homes. If any of them ever uttered the word before, they surely made a point not to allow it to be habitual, but of course none of them were so prudish that they could not discuss it analytically for academic purposes. Yes, skubalon warrants such discussion even though conservative scholars almost uniformly agree to translate St. Paul’s use of it as “DUNG” or possibly “CRAP”.

    But it was the 3rd prof that really opened up. And he took us on a tour of the history of the word SHIT and explained that the stuff it depicts needs a term or two to depict it. And there is nothing innately wrong with the word SHIT to do that. It is foul because that term for it was allowed to be the vulgar expression for it. But that raises the question: Why is that term for it the vulgar one and not another? And this led the prof into a lecture about poor Irish folk tending sheep and how this was their preferred term for it. Only they pronounced it SHITE. The long I sound morphed over time into the short i sound. But where as class society types did not like poor Irish sheep herders, class society chose to shun the poor man’s terminology and consider that vulgar because they considered the poor people who used it vulgar.

    NOW… I just don’t like those rules. I don’t like the fact that SHIT is a dirty word BECAUSE poor people use it and rich people have other terms for it that they think are clean. That is messed up! And if it weren’t for the fact that this bit of history is just practically lost to our culture, I might insist on using the term in spite of the rich! But I would have to literally go around educating EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME on my use of it, and of course getting myself out of trouble for that all the time too. So, I guess, considering the circumstances, I am willing to let SHIT go as a bad word that I need to not use in polite company… but only begrudgingly.

    And we have not even approached the history on the F-bomb which started life as an acronym from the phrase For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. And of course, that is not in the Bible at all, but likewise is dirty for reasons which are a bit dubious, in my estimation.

    Nevertheless, it is a dirty word and as such must be treated with care. Basically to be avoided so as not to draw unnecessary heat on the one hand, but also to live a life of Christian discipline with a tamed tongue on the other. The fact is: the words do offend. And I do not wish to be an offender – especially on matters that don’t matter. Dropping the F-bomb is not going to advance the Gospel; it’s going to create heat that distracts from the Gospel.

    Now, I am not saying don’t create heat or controversy or such. I mean, when you need to throw tables at the place of worship, then throw the tables. Jesus does that. But there is a legit point in doing that, when it needs done. But remember, it got him killed. So, take great care when generating heat like that, and don’t run off with an undisciplined tongue and think that is serving Jesus. We need to be sober minded about such things. And yes, this has three fingers pointing back at me! I confess….

    (I hope I was actually addressing your point with this…)

    X

    • You can read what a fellow writes at the first and last of his story and get the point of the story so with that said, I agree with what you are saying. Course language is not necessary nor does it place attention on the subject, which is Jesus. I try to let folks that haven’t figured that out yet the time to do so. After all we are all broken and in need of the grace and mercy of God. So therefore God is still working on me and I do have much need of him. The most profound thing I can think of about God is if you spend enough time with him He will definitely reveal the truth to you. If you ask him if something is right or wrong He will definitely tell you. We just have to listen. I enjoyed your reply to Paul’s comment. You covered all the bases.

      I would like to add. It is wise to watch what some PHD professors teach. I know in one of our local colleges where I was going to go for my bachelors degree most of the professors that taught pastoral counseling I was told were atheist. So I want a christian perspective not a worldly perspective of God.

      Blessing my friend

  2. I smile when I read your post weather I agree or disagree. One thing I have found as a rule if I will allow I find something in them that causes me to think about things. At time I have to glean around the edges of the field to pick up enough to eat. But there is always plenty there to eat. If I allow. I hope you enjoyed your trip.

    Blessings to you Paul

  3. “The more we insulate and isolate Him … the more we are offended on His behalf …”

    How true! God has pretty thick skin. I don’t normally use course language, not because God is offended, but because others get offended and it’s a needless distraction…UNLESS that’s the whole point of using the word, to bring to light this very thing you said here. I think you make a good point. 🙂

    • I recall P. Yancey making famous Tony Campolo’s remarks in chapel at a Christian college he was visiting. Cant quote it exactly now without looking it up, but he opened saying something like: There are 600,000 starving children in the world today, and you people don’t give a shit! The fact that you are offended more at the language I use than at the starvation, makes my point.

      He was right about that.

  4. Pingback: Observations of the threshold – I am | Just me being curious

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