Paul’s Profanity

Tuesday, February 2, I started a year-long commitment to a discipleship group, mentored by Bob Chisholm, one of the ministers at my church.  It’s Bob and 3 guys, and he meets with 4 different groups each on a separate day of the week, at 5:30am.  So while I meet with him once a week, he meets with 4 groups of 3 every week, which I think is very cool because that’s 12 guys, just like Jesus.  Anyway, in our daily scripture reading I came across something incredibly fascinating that I just had to share.

Philippians chapter 3 is a very uplifting chapter.  Paul describes his previous life and how he had considered works of the flesh to be his righteousness.  He talks about how he has left everything for the Gospel and even considers what he’s lost as nothing compared to the glory of Christ which he has been given.  It’s a beautiful passage for certain, that is, until you read it in the original Greek and find that it’s highly offensive.  Here’s the passage as it’s translated in the NIV.

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…

–Philippians 3:8

Isn’t that nice?  Paul considers the things he’s lost as rubbish.  The Greek word translated as “rubbish” is skybalon, but that’s not the most accurate translation of the Greek.  Skybalon is a dirty word in Greek, and our lovely wholesome translators have really dulled the translation down.  What does it mean?  The NET Bible translates it as “dung”, which is still not quite the full meaning.  The NET Bible note on verse 8’s “dung” says:

The word here translated “dung” was often used in Greek as a vulgar term for fecal matter.  As such it would most likely have had a certain shock value for the readers. This may well be Paul’s meaning here, especially since the context is about what the flesh produces.

Paul swears in his letter.  This wasn’t like saying “I consider them poop,” or “I consider them fecal matter”, no it was much worse than that.  Skybalon was a vulgar term!  It has been found in ancient graffiti and in manuscripts linking it as pure profanity!  Paul purposefully uses a vulgar and offensive term in his letter in order to grab the attention of his readers and get into their faces.  But this isn’t the only place he’s been known to get up into people’s faces.  He does it in Romans as well.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

–Romans 6:1-2

What the NIV translates as “By no means!” is the Greek “Me genoito” which is the strongest Greek idiom to indicate repudiation (refusal to accept and implies a casting off or disowning as untrue, unauthorized, or unworthy of acceptance) and even conveys the idea of outraged indignation.  In other words, it was equivalent to today’s “hell no!”

Of course, this isn’t anything new.  The Tanakh has a few places of questionable language itself, such as when Rehoboam consults his friends to decide if he will listen to the people or not.  His friends’ advice is rather startling.

The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’-tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.

–1 Kings 12:10

Once again our Bible translators are so nice as to dull the eye-popping response of the friends.  The literal Hebrew says, “-say unto them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins”.  What’s the implication here?  You get the picture, and you can see why Rehoboam’s friends gave such poor advice: they’re talking about penis size!  Yikes!

So what’s the point in all of this?  Why does Paul use such striking language in his letters, and even profanity?  The Bible uses language which will grab its readers and widen their eyes.  If it can make you uncomfortable, you’re listening with a different focus than if you’re emotionally unaffected.  For Paul, he wanted it to be crystal clear about what his past life of works-righteousness meant to him.  It wasn’t merely garbage, no, and it wasn’t poop.  He considered it all pure s**t [edit: censored on request by my wife].  If that last sentence I wrote doesn’t make you uncomfortable – perhaps a bit squeamish in your chair – then you need to seriously ask yourself why.  Of course it made you uncomfortable to read that on this nice religious blog, and for the Apostle Paul to be saying it in a letter considered to be Holy Scripture?  Even moreso!  But that’s the very effect he wanted.  He wanted it get awkwardly silent in the room right after they read the Greek word skybalon. Can you feel the tension as people look at one another with awkward glances?  Can you hear the silence as everyone stops breathing for just a moment?  Can you see the confusion as they all want to look at the letter and see for themselves if the reader read it right.  “How could it be?” they ask themselves.  How could Paul, the very one who wrote to the Ephesian church not to let any unwholesome talk come out of their mouths, write such a thing?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

–Ephesians 4:29

How could he say that???  The answer is simple.  In this case, Paul’s carefully planned use of a single vulgar word brings any who subscribe to works-righteousness out of their hard shell.  His vulgar word breaks through it and suddenly they hear his words for what they are.  Was his talk unwholesome?  Yes.  But was it helpful for “building up others according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen”?  I would say yes, a resounding yes.

But also notice that Paul doesn’t do this often.  He doesn’t lace his sermons and letters with swear words.  He gets mad, for instance with the Galatians for being so ignorant (Gal 3:1), but he doesn’t “cuss them out” for it either.  Paul’s use of this one vulgar word is not an excuse to go crazy.  It’s not an excuse to start sounding like the world (e.g. such as today where some use the f-word like a comma).  But can the occasional offensive word be used strategically to reach people and even to “build them up according to their needs”?  I’d say yes, but with one caveat: be careful with when and how you use it.  I’m sure Paul thought for a long time before asking his scribe to pen that word into his letter and  I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision.  Do not be flippant in the use of vulgar words with the excuse of trying to reach people.  If you use them too often, you will lose your credibility as a set-apart follower of the Messiah, and the shock factor is dulled beyond use.

Of course, you can reach people without the use of vulgar words too.  But for everything, there is a season (Ecc 3:1).  It’s certainly something to think about.

Peace to you,

James

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37 thoughts on “Paul’s Profanity

  1. Very interesting post. I dont even pretend to know the first thing about Greek or Hebrew but I have heard about this before. There is another that I heard of that fits the category. Isaiah 64:6.

    What I heard is when it says “our righteous acts are like filthy rags” the filthy rags is actually used menstrual cloths. If true, it is certainly more shocking and makes a much stronger image of how our attempts at good works are seen.

    Would love to see if you confirm the meaning of the word in question. Thanks.

    • I have read the same thing. I thought about using that as an example in my post, but decided against it for the sake of post length, but I’m glad you brought it up. It certainly does paint a much dirtier picture. Our most righteous acts aren’t just dirty rags, they are like menstrual cloths – covered in blood and unclean. Thanks for your insight!

      Peace,
      James

      • There are nine Hebrew words for “dung.”.Kopria is the word for manure. Dung was a common subject since the Israelite
        deposited it in a heap outside the “dung gate” in Jerusalem, used it for fertilizer and even cooked with it where there was no firewood available. Chare noim defined as doves dung. Tesea is the Hebrew word for human excrement while tsephua. is the dung of cattle. Skubalon is the word for refuse, dregs or dung. To attempt to link it to our word “shit” in the profane usage is really stretching it. In the proper context Paul used a word which you correctly characterized as rubbish, something useless,He was referring to his former pharisee life. before he met Christ on the road to Damascus. You are sadly mistaken that Paul would have used the word as a profanity. Although he was human he was also a devout Apostolic follower of Jesus. Would Jesus have uttered a profanity to make a point? Paul expressed his views on profanity and crude speech. Let no unwholesome words .proceed from your mouth. EPH 4:29. ..there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, Eph 5:4 ..James also warned that profanity is displeasing to God. From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. James 3:9-12. The mandate, “Let no unwholesome words proceed from your mouth” is crystal clear. Why then would Paul violate his own mandate since the words of the Apostle are as the words of God Himself. You are correct. It does make me uncomfortable that you pervert the words of the Apostle.and in the process rob God of His supernatural perfection.

        • Skubalon is the word for refuse, dregs or dung. To attempt to link it to our word “shit” in the profane usage is really stretching it.

          You need to look into ancient Greek graffiti. You’ll find that the word “skubalon” is used as graffiti in vulgar and profane ways. The ancient evidence supports the view that it was used as profanity. See “Graffiti in Antiquity” by Peter Keegan (2015). See also the premiere Greek lexicon “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature” by Danker and Bauer, pg. 932 under the entry for “skubalon.” It says that specifically in Phil 3:8 that, “to convey the crudity of the Greek…: ‘It’s all crap.'”

  2. James, not a question about this article, but a general one. My apologies for posting the question here, but I don’t see a place for general questions.

    I have been reading about the number 666. It is mentioned in Rev 13:18 “…If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”

    From what I understand, to Jews the number 6 represents man or the physical world.

    Rabbi and Prof. Zev bar-Lev writes “We do know that the number six represents the physical world. The Torah describes the creation of the universe as a six part, six day, process. Our ancient sources describe the universe as emanating in six directions — north, south, east, west, up, down — from a central point. All physical space and all physical objects have these six dimensions.

    666 is six repeated three times. Repeating a concept three times represents the affirmation and strength of that concept. The number 666 could thus represent the strength and perfection of the physical world, which Judaism teaches will occur in the messianic era, when the physical world will reach its ultimate purpose, to be a vehicle through which the created experience the Creator.” (http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/277/Q1/)

    I have read several other Jewish comments about how 666 is strictly a Christian concept and has no meaning in Judaism. Here are a couple of comment I came across representative of that thought:
    1). “It is also worth noting that the significance of the number 666 is a part of Christian numerology, and has no known basis in Jewish thought,” (Tracey R Rich, http://www.templesanjose.org/JudaismInfo/writing/Hebrew_Alphabet.htm).
    2).”There is no Jewish perspective on 666- that’s stupid. Yes, our star has 6 points whoever posted that. But WE don’t believe in the “devil’s number” and Xtianity [sic] CAME FROM judaism [sic], so I don’t see why you should think we are evil devil worshippers [sic]!”

    If 666 has no meaning to Jews, then why do Biblical authors seem to emphasize 666 in stories such as David and Goliath, and the Golden Image in Daniel Chap. 3 seem to repeat 6 three times?

    Thank you.

    • George,

      You are right to question this. It’s a difficult subject and many will disagree. For certain 6 represents our physical world, but it is a world that is fallen and ruled by Satan (also called “the Prince of this World” – John 14:30).

      It is also not out of the scope of certain numbers to mean different things in different contexts. For instance, 7 is God’s number, but the rabbis used it in the first century with the name “Land of the Seven” to describe the Decapolis which was a wicked and sinful Greek-culture area.

      Also, be careful when reading opinions of anyone so heavily biased as to call Christianity “Xtianity”. These people are so closed-minded to anything regarding Christianity that they will blatantly disregard and get rid of anything that sounds vaguely “Christian”. These are the same type of people who used to believe that the Messiah would die (circa 1st century AD Pharisaical beliefs) but then rejected that idea (circa 3rd century AD) because it sounded too “Christian”.

      Finally, the fact of the matter is that we cannot trust what Jews today believe about “666” because it’s impossible to know if it has been tainted by years of anti-Christian sentiment (just like many Christian ideas are tainted by the reverse, which is just as wrong). It’s more important to know what “666” meant to Jews in the first century. Most of what Jews believe today about the number “666” is influenced by the work known as the Zohar, the foundation of Kabbalah, published circa the 13th century. It’s very possible that these ideas from the Zohar were around in the first century and have their origins there, but it’s also likely that their understanding of this number at this time was fueled by a desire to distance themselves from Christians (as this was during the height of the Crusades). This is probably why they turned it into a number with Messianic significance.

      From what I understand, the number “666” shows up in the Dead Sea Scrolls in the various surviving apocalyptic literature that never made it into the official Jewish canon but were still read and some in the first century even held them to be inspired. As I understand it, it shows up in the same manner that it shows up in the David and Goliath story, or the story of the statue in Daniel. I do not have an exact quotation to support this, or any idea of how to find it, so take this with an extremely small grain of salt.

      I hope this helps you somewhat. Peace.

      James

      • The Greek letter X (Chi) was a symbol commonly used by the early church to represent Christ. The Greek phrase “kupios Xpistos” is translated literally “Lord Christ” or “Christ is Lord”. Replacing “Christ” with “X” in forms of Xianity, Xtianity (as used here), and Xmas is not necessarily derogatory at all. You cannot logically make generalizations like you did in this reply that anyone who uses “Xtianity” is taking anything away from Christ. Saying that anyone who uses this form is “so closed-minded to anything regarding Christianity that they will blatantly disregard and get rid of anything that sounds vaguely “Christian”” is ignorant, and I’d expect more from a blog called “Think Hebrew” or any blog that speaks with any semblance of authority as you do.

        • Hi Jon,

          Thanks for dropping by. You are correct that my comments were far too broad and should not have been put that way. I do apologize for such a rash generalization.

          However, we not talking about the early Christians. We are talking about modern Jews who avoid using the name “Christ” by replacing it with an “X” – clearly not out of reverence but in order to avoid reading or writing the name. These same extreme Jews will also merely refer to Jesus as “J” in order to not read or write his name since they find it so incredibly offensive. I have read many Jewish news websites, newspapers, and blogs where people outright said that this was their motivation. People from the more scholarly side of Judaism will use the words “Jesus”, “Christ”, and “Christianity” without any problems, and even acknowledge that he was quite an incredible and legitimate rabbi (Flusser, Safrai, Sandmel, etc). My warning to George was that there has been a clear effort in mainstream Judaism to get as far away from Christianity as possible (and the same has been done by Christianity to Judaism), and that many things that were once apart of mainstream Judaism have been rejected for sounding “too Christian” (the same is true for Christianity, see: Marcionism). This is unfortunate, and so when you do research about the meanings of numbers in Judaism (such as 666, the topic of this comments thread), you must look to see who is saying what, when, and why. Of course, this type of guarded scholarship is probably advisable all the time.

          Peace,

          James

  3. James,

    I found the link to your site on a comment you made on Jay Quin’s blog. I feel like I found a jewel. I love this post. It is the first of your posts that I have read . . . and it is really good. Where did you learn Greek? Are you self taught? Did you take it at OCU?

    I am looking forward to reading your material and learning from it. Thank you for all the work you do . . . the long hours of reading and writing you put in to your ministry.

    May abundant blessings fall on you brother!

    Brent Fox
    Crestview church of Christ in Waco.

    • Brent,

      I’m glad you found my site. Thank you for your encouragement, and I’m glad God is using me to bless others.

      I did not learn Greek at OC, and I’m really not all that great with it. What I do know is self-taught. Hebrew is a different matter – I’ve taken graduate Hebrew so I know the language basics, and can read and write it.

      Please don’t hesitate to comment with your own additional insight on any of my articles or to ask questions. And feel free to forward along my site to others you know who may be interested in this kind of study which I pursue.

      Peace,

      James

  4. Good post. I’m generally opposed to profanity, but I’ve always found it refreshing with Paul.

    Tony Campolo used to horrify evangelical colleges by talking about malnutrition in the 2/3 world by saying “36,000 people die A DAY from malnutrition or wayer related illnesses and you don’t give a s–t–What’s worse, you’re more upset that I said s–t than you are that 36,000 people died last night, and another 36,000 will today.

    I’m not for it, except when it really, really, really proves a point.

    Also, on the 666 thing some papyri have 616 and 665. All in all, lest your a prophetic-bent literalist, I’m not sure it matters one way or another.

    • Hi Trey,

      I’m glad you liked my post. It’s definitely a crazy thing to be doing (swearing to a church audience). And I love the Tony Campolo story! Thanks for much for sharing that, cause I’d never heard that before. Brilliant on his part – it really puts things into perspective.

      And yeah, the 666 thing doesn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things.

      Peace,
      James

  5. Just found your site today from a friend’s Tweet. I really like it!! Looking forward to more reading.

    In regards to Tony Campolo, I recall being told that he used a similar phrase (might have been the same one) in a chapel service at my college many years ago and was asked never to come back.

    While I’m not one for vulgarity either, there is a time and a place when shock value is necessary and it works. I’m pretty sure Paul knew that as well.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks Brian! And in regard to your own Campolo story, that’s no surprise. I’m pretty sure that they would have done the same thing at the Christian college that I went to.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

      Peace,
      James

  6. Interesting read. You learn something new each day. I’ve also heard stories about Elilah using profanity to mock the High Priests of Baal on Mt Carmel.
    1Ki 18:27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

    The “busy” in the English NIV is apparently translated from the Hebrew equivalent of “taking a s— or crap” not sure literal because i’ve never studied the ancient hebrew, but interesting in the least.

  7. So the lesson, that if your infrequent cussing is for the growth and development of the church, then it is acceptable.

    One could say then that the end justified the means.

    But I would have to disagree with such. Just because it is in the bible, doesn’t mean it is right. The bible relates a lot of sin, and doesn’t always give you directive commentary. Furthermore, Paul, who contradicts himself in doing this cussing, is not our model. Christ is. If Christ can be quoted as using obscene language, then that is something else– that would be a great deal more difficult to swallow.

    • Kyle,

      Methinks you missed the point.

      This isn’t a situation of “the end justifies the means”. This is a question of the accuracy and reliability of Scripture as a guide. The issue is if, as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, “ALL Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” then that includes the parts we aren’t comfortable with. In fact, I would posit that means ESPECIALLY those parts we aren’t comfortable with, which is in complete context with WHY Paul used the terminology He did in that verse in Philippians, as well as other places. I see NO contradiction at all.

      The fact is, the Bible has been sanitized in its translation from the original languages to English, and sometimes we don’t want to confront that reality.

      • The “Scripture” to which Paul was referring couldn’t have been the gospels, since they were all written after he died, and he certainly wasn’t referring to his own letters as Scripture. Given his own correction of Cephus, I doubt he would’ve considered Peter’s epistles “God-breathed”. The penis and menstrual references wouldn’t have been considered vulgar in OT times. In fact, that was most likely a Puritan convention.

    • Words are not inherently good or evil. Their only power is given to them by the people who use them. If you ascribe an evil meaning to the category of words our culture deems “swear words”, then they are evil for you. But others may not, and I do not think they are in sin. For instance, if you ever say “darn, dang, shoot, freaking, gosh, heck, screwed up,” etc., you are essentially swearing. You are saying the word in spirit without saying it verbally. Furthermore, if you say these things and then tell others not to swear, you are being a hypocrite because the meaning of your words is the same as theirs, even if you use a different word.

      Recently, I posted a picture on Facebook containing a particular political opinion. An older friend from church whom I respect commented only with “bologna”. He may not have said “bullsh*t”, but that is what he meant with the substitute. His response was uncharacteristically harsh and unedifying, and it took a little bit for me to get over it. I doubt he meant to come across so strongly, but his “bologna” was a swear word in that moment, whether the culture would see it that way or not. Had he actually used the profanity, the effect would have been no different. The point being, if you say these “substitute words”, then don’t hold it against someone who uses “real” swear words.

      I think the principle of 1 Corinthians 8 applies here. Christians who do not think swear words are bad (in an appropriate context) are not sinning, but they shouldn’t swear around Christians who do have an issue with it. Not because it’s actually wrong, but because doing it might cause the weaker brother to sin by violating his conscience.

      PS—Jesus called the Pharisees vipers. I doubt that was counted among the pleasantries of Jewish conversation.

      • Thanks for your comment. Your proposal that words are just words and only have the meanings that we ascribe to them is very post-modern of you. But the reality is that words have meaning – a reality that our culture constructs. Saying that they don’t have meaning doesn’t escape this. If your proposal was true, then Jesus wouldn’t have prohibited his disciples from saying a specific word (“raca” which means fool, moron, idiot, etc in Aramaic) in Matt 5:22. As for your older friend who used “bologna,” I wouldn’t be so quick to be hurt. Surely there must be a way express the idea (i.e. “there is no substance to that which you have said”) in a word without using an offensive word? And aren’t you judging him by deciding that he must have meant some swear word in his heart? Your friend chose that word specifically to not be offensive. Words do matter. Choose them wisely.
        Peace,
        James

    • Perhaps you should study Hebrew/Aramaic before coming to that conclusion. I’m not sure Jesus used profanity but I guarantee you he offended some people with his words.

  8. I absolutely loved this article. I happened upon it & know it is a confirmation. Was meditating on how to reach the younger generation & know some from certain walks of life will need to hear hard truths. In a way they will get it. Will keep this article in mind. Not to curse when ministering but to bring hardbcore truth like Paul. Thank you

  9. James,

    Your presentation of closer translation of Scripture is interesting but I also think your purpose should be clarified even more so.

    You indicated that the purpose was only to give a more correct translation of what Paul said (in the original manusripts) but then you gave your readers your opinion on whether or when its okay to use profanity if it is used to builds others up. Personally I think that using your knowledge (1 Cor. 8:1) coupled with your desire to perhaps set the understanding record straight, seems a might careless to me. I think its one thing to use your education to help others, but I think its another when you go beyond that and offer an endorsement that its okay to use profanity if you’re investing in the spiritual growth of others. Given your student-like approach to the scriptures it would be hard for me to believe that in the “canon” of scripture that it teaches us
    when mentoring, preaching, or teaching others, that using the language of Satan’s kingdom could/should be employed to build God’s kingdom.

    Your effort at the end of your post to give times to use “curse words” and your caution as well displayed that maybe its NOT the most effective way to share Jesus and that we might keep Jesus as our example and not Paul.

    I want to encourage you to continue to bring clarify to the body of Christ but be very sensitive that it doesn’t come with confusion. I love your research just not your opinion on this item. Are you a Pastor? Thanks for the post and I hope you hear my heart, brother.

    In Christ
    Milton

      • When you grow up thinking one thing like for example many people grow up thinking Christians are supposed to be “proper” and prim and nice etc then I don’t believe that represents Christ very well. When people think he was nice or something they’re getting the wrong picture and by not getting the real facts people are driven away from HIm because too many of Christians can act like hyprocites sometimes. Peter was the same way. A lot of people just want the truth and a God they can relate to but we’re too busy being religious. I just think it’s sad and maybe for children you wouldn’t tell them what’s really in the Bible but teenagers all the way up to the elderly should be able to handle it. Of course I understand some won’t be able to. I just really dislike how so much of our translations have been dumbed down. Too many people need to hear how it really is. And the last guy said these words are from Satan’s kingdom but I beg to differ. I believe that’s what he wants us to think. Everything he’s got comes from God and he just twists it. Our God is far from religious and nice and all these things we’ve invented. Sorry it just makes me angry having to when we don’t portray things more accurately.

  10. “Do not be flippant in the use of vulgar words with the excuse of trying to reach people. If you use them too often, you will lose your credibility as a set-apart follower of the Messiah, and the shock factor is dulled beyond use.”

    Yuck. I hated this statement. The rest of the article was awesome though.

    What sets us apart as a follower of the messiah is Love. Not swearing or not. You literally just interjected a works based/self righteous sentence in an article that is against such things. Shame!

    • Attempting to follow the command to “Be holy as I am holy” AFTER accepting salvation is NOT a works-based self-righteousness. I will not apologize for actually attempting to obey God’s commands and be holy, which means to be set apart. And we can’t be set apart if we aren’t different. Don’t confuse obedience after salvation for the actual salvation, or we risk having a weak and meaningless grace. See Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” and NT Wright’s “After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters” for more if you’re interested.

  11. Paul, by his won admission, was a man of rude speech. This self-appointed thirteenth apostle wrote things that do not always seem to lign up with the Tanakh. Me, as a Gentile, lean heavily upon the Tanakh, especially Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 9:6 where we meet the true Yahshua.

  12. I came across this article by chance. James, this is a good and thoughtful article. … Biblical Greek is “vulgar Greek,” not “classic Greek.” The use and avoidance of many modern English words (and what defines, “vulgar” today) was formulated by Victorian England when uncovered table legs were consider “vulgar,” so most table legs were covered up for modesty’s sake. “Vulgar” refers to the common people and their language. Biblical Greek by definition is a vulgar language. Some of the comments here completely disregard the common writings of Old and Middle English that frequently used common words in the literature that would be offensive today. Many would consider the insult, “son of a bitch,” to be an insult, but Jesus called the Pharisees, “sons of vipers” (which greatly offended the Pharisees). Then there’s that person here that spoke of “unwholesome talk;” what’s the context and the Greek that was translated “unwholesome?” In Ephesians 4.29, the Greek word, “sapros,” behind “unwholesome,” means “worthless, corrupt,” and refers to talking bullshit that has nothing to do with telling the truth of the gospel and causing disunity. The Vulgar Greek language conveyed a message that common people would understand. If I tell my sons, “Shut the hell up,” “I’ll beat your ass,” “Do your damn job,” or “Quit your frigging bellyaching,” I’ve just used common and descriptive words to convey the sincerity behind what I’ve said. The quote that, “Our righteousness are like filthy rags” actually means, “Our righteousness are like menstrual rags.” Hebrew women coming off of their period had to go through a purification process after their monthly flow. Blood to a Hebrew was VERY taboo, especially menstrual blood, hence the story of the Good Samaritan where the priests avoided a bleeding, wounded man because they would unable to serve in the Temple due to be unclean. The English word that the English uses to convey our central consciences is the “heart,” but the word should be “bowels.” There are many more examples.

    In fact, most of Christianity’s messages are built upon bullshit because they’re designed to make the wussies feel better about the vulgar nature of scripture. “You’re dressing a pig with lipstick,” is what Victorian English is all about, and, “You’re full of shit,” is the vulgar truth. Thanks to Victorian English men quit being men and start being wussies, which is another vulgar word. One of the major changes to make people feel better about Christianity is the occasional misinterpretation of the word that means, “slave;” the word “servant” is typically used so we don’t offend any races. Christianity needs to hear “the vulgar truth” to get its act together because it’s losing in the public arena with every passing year. As it is, Christian men act more like helpless, sensitive, and easily offended ladies. And that’s all I’ve gotta say about that!

  13. Appreciated this conversation for lots of reasons, James, not the least of which is the practice of going to the written Word as the “bottom line”. I heartily “agree” with all of the Biblical truths referred to here. However, something I am exploring is using and speaking not only “the Word of God” but also “words from God” as the holy spirit supplies them in a situation. I myself have had a very legalistic background, and then for years was part of an “un-religious” Christian movement that perhaps went too far the other way. I am now finding that being “all things to all men” can mean that, for example, I say “That’s bull***t to one person who needs support in dealing w/ a legalistic controlling leader, and with another person, I quote 1 Peter 5:3 – “Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.” God is a situational God, as well as a Father who gives extremely important guidelines and commandments, yes? I believe the Bible bears that out, not doubt, although us humans have difficulty w/ that truth,

    It is a very interesting walk to balance the adherence to Scripture AND being free to relate to God as an intimate Father, and hear directly and confidently from Him.., Any thoughts?
    .

  14. Very good post! Thank you. I tried to write a post about my pet peeve, th common use of vulgarity today. This was really good and I think I’ll add a link to this post! I love it when we return to the original Hebrew and Greek for the complete context and understanding of scriptures.

  15. Pingback: Reflections… | Of Rain Falling From the Sky

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