Today I read a post by a youth pastor (Matt Schultz) about 5 things we tell youth that we shouldn’t. The first four were OK points, (maybe I wasn’t totally in accord with all of them, but at least I could see where he was coming from, and couldn’t too much harm in his claims.)
Then I hit #5.
I’m sorry, but I gotta disagree with him. Quite frankly, I’m appalled at this statement, and I can’t just be quiet about it, especially after our Bible Study examined the responsibility of the church to hold its members accountable to their profession of faith. (1 Cor 5)
The fifth thing he’s telling us that we should not teach our youth is that “SWEAR WORDS ARE BAD.” He claims:
Scripture does tell us to use our words wisely and not to harm people. But it does not specify a vocabulary. The word “suck,” when used by teenagers in particular, carries with it no harmful intent other than to characterize something as sub-par (i.e., Ã‚Â‘I suck at baseballÃ‚Â’). Other words are used equally as casually. If the word is not used to hurt, then I believe we should turn a deaf ear.
Are you kidding me, Mr Schultz? Are you even kidding me?!? Maybe he got too carried away with a more “complex thinking and interpretation” of Ephesians Chapter 4-5. I guess the whole part about “no unwholesome talk” and this little matter in Chapter 5 of:
(1)Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children (2)and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (3)But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (4)Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (5)For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy personÃ‚Â—such a man is an idolaterÃ‚Â—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] (6)Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (7)Therefore do not be partners with them.
Now I don’t claim to be perfect, nor that I’ve never partaken in coarse joking. I also agree with him in regard to the word “suck”–it holds none of the meaning it may have held 20 or 30 years ago. I remember the first time my mom ever over-reacted to it, and I was left wondering “what’s wrong with that word, and what does she think that it means?”
However, we must not encourage our youth to take a trivial view of holiness. If using the F-bomb can get a movie rated “R” by a very liberal society, it is evidently still a sign of impurity/coarseness/vulgarity, and there is no way that its use could be received by God as a fragrant offering. We should be looking for ways to encourage young people to try and exemplify holiness, not trying to make excuses for their straying towards sin. While we should not excommunicate a youth for letting a vulgarity slip, we should definitely teach them that such behavior is not ideal, and ultimately leads to greater and greater compromise.
I’m sure that the Corinthian individual in 1 Cor 5 didn’t jump into bed with his father’s wife the day after Paul left, but rather a culture developed that kept allowing more and more questionable, then sinful behavior.
My biggest problem, though, is lightheartedrded way the people throw around “Oh my god!” “good god!” and “Christ!” Even if you can try to talk your way around the pretty stringent guidelines Paul lays out, you can’t deny the commandment in Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (or if you prefer KJV, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”)
Get a clue, Mr. Schultz. The last the God wants is for us to water down his Character until being a Christian is a comfortable transition from being in the world. We are to be “set apart,” not one of the gang. I
hate have to be so vehement about this–if there’s anything God is serious about, it’s his Name, his Holiness, and his People: let us encourage his People to properly reflect his Holiness, and revere and bring honor to his Name.
Let us not fall into a trap that we’ve been warned of in Romans 1:
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. (29)They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, (30)slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; (31)they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (32)Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.