Verbal punches that Christians should never throw

When I was a kid Bill Cosby was far and away my favorite comedian. Now that I think about it, he still is but this anecdote is about something I learned when I was young. In Bill Cosby’s comedy routines he would occasionally use what secular people consider mild profanity like Hell as in ‘go to Hell’. I was taught that as Christians we should never say ‘go to Hell’ because we actually believe in Hell.

Below are some of the worst verbal punches that a person who speaks American English can throw. They are what I think is ascending order of severity but I could be wrong. For the purposes of this blog I’m leaving out verbal punches that are aimed at a person’s race or nationality etc. It’s a whole different category of insulting and it is so obvious why Christians should not partake that it is not worth the time.

Least severe are the blasphemous:
God Damn You
Go to Hell

Then those that insult intelligence:
Idiot
Moron
Dummy
Stupe (is that the noun form of stupid)

Then the scatological:
F*ck off
You C*nt
Sh*t Head
A*s Hole

Like a boxer, if you really want to get to your opponent you throw these punches in combinations. I’ll leave that you your imagination.

My opinion is that for Christians this list should be in reverse order. Christians already, I think, put the blasphemous above the scatological. We don’t curse as in ‘go to Hell’ or ‘damn you’ because it is counter to everything it means to be a Christian. We also don’t like scatological language because it is considered filthy language and Ephesians instructs Christians to not use such. What I don’t understand is why Christians feel free to use words such as idiot and stupid. Jesus was very specific in his sermon on the mount that anyone who says ‘thou fool’ is in danger of hell fire.

Don’t talk your way around this one. When expositors find a verse in the Bible that they don’t want to follow they find a way to talk around it. I can understand why a person might argue that a tithe can be calculated on income after taxes are deducted or dancing is okay because David danced before the Lord. I will also grant that sometimes we talk around verses for good reason. If you take the ‘turn the other cheek’ too far you might not defend someone who needs defending and thus someone could die. Similarly, the teaching on forgiveness does not mean allowing a person who is not qualified to do a job to continue doing it. I acknowledge that you can always talk your way out of a verse if that is what you want. If you can’t change the meaning of a sentence then change the meaning of the words. For instance if you want to have a potty mouth you could always say “but what exactly does the Greek word translated as filthy language in Ephesians really mean?” But why twist Jesus’ words that way? What is lost except the ability to insult someone? But why fight for the right to call someone an idiot? Don’t do it. Don’t talk your way around this one.

Like all sins, calling someone an idiot is bad for the person who does it but I’m not going to say why. I get tired of teachers who teach Christ as if the Christian is the center of the world. Have you ever heard a sermon on tithing where the preacher did not say that if you tithe you actually have more money because tithing teaches you to budget? Bah! If the only reason that you are not going to call someone an idiot is because it is in your best interest then please get a different religion. There are already lots of religions that allow their adherents to be self-centered. Christ did not die to give us another one. Jesus said to not call people stupid so don’t do it – Period and Exclamation point.

If I had my way the words stupid and idiot and moron would be to the Christian like the words F*ck and C*nt. They just wouldn’t be said. At the very least they should be like the words sh*t and a*s. It is okay to use them under certain circumstances if you are actually talking about what the words actually mean. This is a true story that you may at first think is funny. It was a very hot day so my mom, ever the caring person, called up a woman that she knew to see if she was managing. When asked what she was doing to keep her apartment cool the woman replied “I have the air conditioner on, the fan on, and the window open”. That would be a funny story except the woman in it was a high functioning developmentally challenged person who was living independently and my mother was her social worker charged with helping her. The woman in the story really was stupid. But that is just the point about calling someone stupid, if they really are, we (Christians at least) don’t – because it’s cruel. We only call people stupid who are not. Therefore for the Christian to call someone stupid is also a lie. What we mean when we call someone stupid is that they have overlooked something that we think should be obvious to everyone (like the woman opening the window on a hot day). If that is what we mean then that is what we should say.

I don’t mean this last statement as a veiled insult (please forgive me but maybe I do), I mean it in a practice what you preach sort of way. We Evangelicals have overlooked this for far too long and it really should be obvious to everyone.

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4 Responses to Verbal punches that Christians should never throw

  1. Don Bradford says:

    Joel, I don’t know if it is our generational ‘speak’, but I tend to hear more verbal punches from those who are younger. There are words that I cannot come out of my mouth because (I am sure) I am a christian. What I see and hear from the younger brothers and sisters of the church causes me to shake my head. Where is Christ being lived? You are correct in the thought that the christian is not the centre of the world. Christ is the centre and we should live as such to be our reality. Where is the taking up the cross (dying to self) and following Christ.

    If what comes out of our mouths is an indication of what is within, then really, how strong is our faith in Christ? I can remember calling my brother Rick a ‘fool’ when we were teens, and at that moment I was shocked at what came out of my mouth, thinking a lightening bolt would strike me down. Many would think me silly, but that was how real the bible was to me. 35 plus years later I am still careful how I word my speech, but my ears hear so much that shocks me. Have we softened the message of the gospel to make it more acceptable and less demanding? Has christianity become a religion that is only practiced on Sunday mornings (remember driving every Sunday evening to Westway)? What would christians say if we were to tell them it is not just the words that come out of our mouths, but also the thoughts that we have toward others that can be classified as sin?

    “Don’t call someone stupid because Jesus said not to – Period and Exclamation point.” If only we would say and do because Jesus has told us such. Where would we the church (in the west) be today?

    Thanks Joel.

    • You are a better man than me Don. I think I was almost 40 before I began to understand that it was wrong to call people stupid and it was another 10 years or so before I came to believe that it was very wrong.

  2. Don I replied too soon because I was struck by your story of calling your brother a fool when you were a teenager. Now I want to reply to this statement “What would christians say if we were to tell them it is not just the words that come out of our mouths, but also the thoughts that we have toward others that can be classified as sin?”

    In my blog I made a point of not telling why it is in a persons best interest to not use the word stupid. Now I’ll tell why. Yes thinking that people are stupid is a sin but it is a sin like hatred that primarily affects the person thinking it. When you think people are stupid you stop thinking about why they have that opinion. Thinking about how other people think and why they think a certain way is extremely valuable both spiritually and temporally. It is the essence of understanding and wisdom. Like I said, everything that Jesus tells us to do is in our own best interest. Isn’t he a great guy?

    • Don Bradford says:

      Joel, I don’t know about me being a better man. I believe when I had said ‘you fool’ I held the bible as literal (no one had told me otherwise) and this affected my christian walk. I wish I lived more literal today.

      On Saturday, I was working and talking with one of our elders about things that have gone on in our fellowship over the last few years. We have gone through a severe shaking, making us in a sense starting over. There was a couple who caused some problems and the elders at the time put them out of fellowship. I had not agreed with what was done and how it was done. I made the comment Saturday how the ‘sister’ who had been put out was looking ‘old’. Jim made the observation that she had an illness. He then told me that she was full of bitterness and that there are professionals who are trying to get bitterness classed as an illness. I then thought and shared that the church is so easily affected by what people say and do without considering that there are things that may be causing what they say and do. This sister in the Lord had bitterness from her family life as a child that never was dealt with. Here we tossed her and her husband aside because we had a problem with how she was trying to live with this ‘illness’ of bitterness. Where is our ministry as the church to touch such a one with His love and allowing Him to bring healing. We all have an illness that is sin. Jesus has come to heal. We the church need to look beyond the words and the acts and maybe even what we think may be another’s motive and minister His life so they can be healed and live victoriously.

      Just a thought that I had. I’m thinking of writing it in my blog in a fuller manner.

      Thanks Joel.

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