What are your views on a Christian who swears, is into very very secular music or jokes (to the point of vulgar), etc. and thinks it’s okay? This is a question that I was asked very recently and was unable to answer.
Well, to be honest, I am a Christian who swears, listens to very secular music and enjoys humor that some people would classify as vulgar. I know that, for myself, none of those things are near the top of the list that God is calling me to work on right now.
Let’s look at this in two separate categories. One is about taste in media. Some folks have an idea that music that is of sold in the “Christian” section of the store is somehow inherently holy. It’s not. The thing to look at is what do you get from music. Some people find truth and beauty in songs by Christian artists, and that is great. Some people find beauty and truth in the Beatles, or Beethoven, or Miles Davis, or a less pretentious example I can’t think of. Just because the Christian recording industry, which is an industry- meaning their primary goal is to move units, declares something “Christian” doesn’t mean it is approved by the Lord himself.
The same goes for humor. I don’t know if there is a “Christian comedy” subgenre like there is in music. And if there is, don’t tell me. I don’t know that I could take it. Just because comedy is family friendly, doesn’t mean it is godly. I am a bit of a stand up comedy nerd, and two of my all time favorites are so called “clean comedians”- Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan, but their comedy is no more righteous than Chris Rock or a Judd Apatow movie.
The same goes for swearing. Nowhere in the Bible does it say “here is a list of naughty words thou must never utter.” It does say to only use language useful for building others up (Ephesians 4:29). That same verse not to let any “unwholesome talk” come from your mouth, though that doesn’t necessarily mean swearing. It is perfectly possible to be mean, cutting and judgmental without swearing, and I would consider those far more unwholesome than just a curse word.
To me, the key to all of this is found in Romans 14. Paul is talking about personal matters, like dietary restrictions. In that time, some people decided to keep the old Jewish dietary rules after they became Christians, and some didn’t. Paul basically said that both sides were free to do what they wanted. He said that people shouldn’t judge people for not following the voluntary restrictions they choose to. He also says that people who eat everything shouldn’t rub that in the face of people who choose to follow other rules.
Romans 14:19-20 says “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.”
I make choices about my own life around media and language, but I am also very careful not to inflict those on someone else. I don’t think that cursing is inherently sinful. However, cursing around someone when you know it makes them uncomfortable is treating that person in an unloving way, and that is a big problem. We have freedom in Christ to like what we like in a lot of areas of life. We do not, however, have the freedom to flaunt our choices or make other people feel like less of a believer for choosing something else.
-Matt from The Bridge