Friday, March 4, 2011

What the Bible Really Says About Swearing

By David Brollier

Some of you may not like what I’m about to say. Others will try to use my words as an excuse to use foul language. So let me preface this with this statement: I am giving this teaching as a writer, one who tries to portray characters realistically, and in no way do I endorse foul language.
That being said there is a false teaching that swearing is an evil thing and must be avoided. People tend to go to Exodus 20:7 to prove their point, but that verse says, Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. In this instance God is not talking about swearing, not even as we would call it swearing. Instead He is talking about using His name in a way that is empty and does not recognize the fullness and greatness of God. In some sense then, people who will use God’s name in a sentence, or more likely a profane utterance, are guilty of breaking this commandment. Yet so are people, who claiming to be Christians, use the name of God in a more subtle, yet more evil manner. They might talk about how God has sent them to speak to you personally when, in fact, He has not. This is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Whenever we use God’s name in a manner that does not exalt who He is we can be sure we are breaking this commandment, at the very least.
However, swearing is quite a different matter. To swear means to take an oath. In our culture we have revised it to mean saying anything profane. Now some people will use, among others, the following Scriptures to prove that swearing is the same as cursing:
Leviticus 5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Jeremiah 23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
Hosea 4:2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.
Hos 10:4 They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.
The Hebrew word for swearing can best be interpreted adjure, according to Strong’s Concordance. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines adjure with these words:
1. to command solemnly under or as if under oath or penalty of a curse
2. to urge or advise earnestly

So then one who swears is one who makes an oath. These bind themselves in a way that God did not intend for us to be bound. Still, we see that this word does not, necessarily, mean cursing, although it may include that. An instance in Scripture is when Peter denied Christ, then denied Him with an oath, and finally cursed and swore that he did not know Jesus. (Matthew 26:69-74) There is instructional teaching here about how we can bind ourselves with our own words, but we’ll pass on that for the moment. I just want you to see that swearing isn’t necessarily what our society has re-defined it to be.
The closest we really get to our social definition of swearing, which we also call cursing or using profane language, is found in the usage of vain speech. Here are a few Scriptures that speak to that topic:
Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
1Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.
Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision.
1Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers.
Even here the definition of the word vain is empty and much of the time either deceitful or lying. Profane speech is also mentioned, but what is profane speech? Strong’s Concordance defines profane as being; properly to bore, that is, (by implication) to wound, to dissolve; figuratively to profane (a person, place or thing), to break (one’s word), to begin (as if by an opening-wedge); denominatively to play (the flute): - begin (X men began), defile, X break, defile, X eat (as common things), X first, X gather the grape thereof, X take inheritance, pipe, player on instruments, pollute, (cast as) profane (self), prostitute, slay (slain), sorrow, stain, wound.
Profane speech then is that kind of speech intended to inflict harm. Often it slips out of our mouths during times of frustration or anger. It is both improper and sinful, but like all sin, can be removed by taking it to the Cross and letting the blood of Jesus wash it away.
I’ve put all of this together because Christian writers are being bound by a social understanding of what swearing is rather than a Biblical understanding. Even were these publishers and Christian markets correct they are avoiding the fact that we all have used words that were profane, cursed, swore oaths, and were otherwise empty or vain. When a Christian writer wishes to portray something in his story he or she may well have someone utter something that is inappropriate for the Christian. This is because they are either not Christians in the story, or because even as Christians we often fall short of being the holy people God has called us to be. We can actually use these words to show the difference between the people of God and the people in the world. We can also show how a Christian must deal with the awesome, and sometimes deadly, power of the tongue.
I am not an advocate of putting in curse words just to spice up the story, but I and many other Christian authors, recognize that this is the way people speak. In a recent work I used the word Gosh!” This in itself is watering down what he really would have said. My editor advised me to change it to Horse feathers. Can you see how ridiculous this is? We are talking about a hardened NYPD detective, and although he’s a Christian he’s dealing with the stress of being in uncomfortable surroundings. The word I should have used was damn, but somehow I don’t think the Christian community would like that either.
So I am, cautiously, advocating using certain curse words in a Christian work if they are needed to make the character realistic. I do not want to see these vile words punctuating every sentence, but I do want to see publishers and markets open to the usage of these words in an artistic and sparing manner. It is not the way we should talk, and as such gives us an example of how we should not speak. It is, however, the way people do speak, and making your characters realistic is a good portion of the story. Without realistic characters you may not even get the story out.
So I’m asking for there to be an open-mindedness about using these words. Is the author using them to harm people or be dramatic? Or are they using them to create a more realistic atmosphere for the story?
As a parting thought I’d like these people who have tried to bind Christian writers to take a hard look at the Bible. If any book were to be banned on use of language it would be Scripture, but God makes no apologies for His Word. If He is the One helping us to write shouldn’t we have the same freedom as the Author and Finisher of our Faith?

Getting Things Straight

I get all kinds of emails from Christians around the world. Those I receive from those in the US are disturbing. They talk about how anti-Christian President Obama is and propose various ideas and legislations to bring us back to a Christian society. Hang in there and you'll understand why this is disturbing.

In God's Word King Solomon received this promise from the Lord, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2nd Chronicles 7:14)

That sounds like a map to get us back to where we need to be, but it's only part of the map. We actually have to humble ourselves. We actually have to pray and see the face of God. We actually have to turn from our wicked ways if we want God to "forgive their sin and heal their land."

Now there are many out there that will say, "That's what I'm doing." This is where the other side of the coin is revealed. In the Chronicles and the Kings we have a list of kings from David up until they are led captive in Babylon. Some kings were good, and did what was right. Most did that which was evil. One good king, I believe it was Joash, King of Judah (you see already their evil had spit the nation) ordered the cleaning out of the Temple to make it worthy of the Lord. While they were cleaning out all the garbage, the idols, the things that belonged to other idols, men found the book of the Law. We would know this as the Torah or the books of Moses. They brought it back and read it before the king. Now pay attention. As they were reading this the king tore his clothes and fell (I believe) on his face. The very reading of the Law showed him how evil he was, even though he did that which was right. He ached for the people he ruled over and destroyed all the idols, grinding them into dust. Then he had the books of the Law read before all the people and the priests and Levites cleansed themselves and began to offer up sacrifices for the people.

You may be scratching your head, wondering why I'm bringing up this ancient history. The reason is simple. As long as we try to blame someone else for the troubles we are in we are part of the problem. Until we truly humble ourselves before God, how can we turn from our evil ways? If we do not turn from our evil ways, we, the CHURCH, then our nation will continue to come under the persecution of God. It's not that God likes persecution, but He wants us to come to Him.

Many in our churches are writing their own rules, their own laws. Our hearts have grown hard. While certain people may be doing harm to this nation, they can do no greater harm than we, who call ourselves Christian, and act in ways that do not seek God out or fail to humble ourselves before our Maker. You see, God sets all authorities over us. That means President Obama and all the rest. I'm not saying they are right. I'm saying that God has sent us into our own Babylon by appointing people who would increase the burdens on our back.

Do you see it? Jeremiah prophesied this, as did Isaiah, and a number or others. Are we greater than Israel that God would stand aside for our "democracy"? We are in contempt of His court, and unless we get things right with Him they will only get worse.

The way back is through a veil of tears. Each of us must listen to the law of love that Christ spoke of, and remember that God is Love. How far have we fallen from our first love? What is in store for us if we do not return? These are the things we should be directing our energies to.

Not Political

There are lot of angry people out there following the 2012 election results. While I can understand why they are angry I also realize that anger may be one of the things that is pinning us down in this society.

Fact 1: Just about every news outlet has shown us just how poorly Pres. Barrack Obama has led this nation. He has apologized to people who are our enemies, and have stated that after Israel we are next to be destroyed. This should be scary to say the least.
Fact 2: Obama has driven the country's debt higher than all previous presidents combined.
Fact 3: It is obvious that Obama does not want the people to have the right to make their own decisions. Perhaps the South was right to secede from the Union in 1860. Some people get the idea that the Civil War was about freeing the slaves. While that did become a factor, the real issue was State Sovereignty, and I think they were right in that.
Fact 4: While we have the privilege to vote for the candidate of our choice it is actually God who establishes authorities over us. How God does that is in direct proportion to the way we, as Christians, have, or have not obeyed Him. Currently God has handed us over to a cruel task-master.

So what does all this mean? Why am I bringing this up? I am bringing this up because there are worse things than a president bound to destroy our nation. Many of you may disagree with me on that. It seems to me that as long as you and I regard this nation as the top of our priorities then we will continue to be angry and bitter with our president. This is such a crazy thing to do.

One person shared with me that unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger directed towards anyone, is like wishing they would die and taking the poison ourselves. This is what America is currently doing. We are taking poison in hopes that some other person dies or is incapacitated in their duties, in this case, President Obama.

As Christians we are to forgive, even as Jesus forgave us. Do you think that you, by your own hand, find any goodness in the eyes of God? If you do then you better change your way of thinking. Scripture tells us that there is none righteous, no not one, and that Jesus offered Himself up to die for us that we might be seen righteous through Him. Dare we think any less for the one God has placed over us?

I do not agree with Obama. I believe nearly all his policies are corrupt and seems almost calculated to destroy the United States. And yet I forgive him, with the help of the Holy Spirit. For if I rebel against Obama I am rebelling against God.

The Bible says, "If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then shall I hear from Heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land."

Time is working against us. It flies by like a barn swallow. If we do not repent now, we may never have the chance. The cup of God's wrath is already being filled. People have warped His words to support their own deviant behaviors; anger, drunkenness, sexual lust, and yes homosexuality. These also we must uphold in prayer and forgiveness. I have friends who are homosexuals, but they know my beliefs as well. I don't preach to them, nor do I put them down. People are people.

For instance, the shooting in Connecticut have nothing to do with guns or mental disabilities. It has to do with the presence of evil, and we must realize that this evil exist in all of us. The evil in one may provoke the evil in another. Jesus came into the world for this very purpose, to destroy that evil in us, but He can only do so to those who respond to Him.

While I would normally be writing about the birth of Christ and the miracles that surrounded that birth I believe it is more important to remind you, to remind me, that God is God. I'm not. Therefore I have an obligation to forgive anyone who has slighted me, and that includes the President. In fact, look at your life and pray for every person God has placed over you. Only as we seek His face and repent can we find the healing of God on this nation

Psalm 23