I had an interesting conversation with some folks the other day when I revealed that I'm okay with swearing. As I blog this I imagine some readers having the same reaction as these people. I was and wasn't surprised by their intense response, and from it I assumed that they believed swearing was sinning. They couldn't believe that I could condone such behavior. As I relayed my conversation to Bryan, he noted that we were talking about two different things. While they were objecting to excusing swearing from sin, I was addressing the hierarchy of sin in our speech.
Many believe that all sin is equal. Yes and no. All sin leads us to separation and alienation from God. However, there is scripture that points to more severe consequences for some sin (Matt. 23:14-15), and there are some sins that are more detestable to God (Ezekiel 8, 16).
I think most Christians also have a hierarchy of sin, and what bothers me is that sometimes that hierarchy seems out of order. I rarely get such intense reactions from people who listen to gossip nor do I see people call out sin when others lash out in anger. Mr. Anger Management might have not used the culturally defined swear words, but his sentiment is obviously there.
Something else that I take issue with is that there is a lot of mean teasing among Christians, but it's not called out. In fact, I don't think people see it as sin because it's only a joke. What's kind of troubling is that it becomes a contest of who can cut each other down in the most witty way. I find this more insidiously damaging than swearing.
I think swearing is an easily identifiable action among Christians that separates between the bad and the good. It's another way we pat ourselves on the back for being holy while turning a blind eye to our daily sins that no one else knows about. I want our understanding of sin to go past the surface issues. When I consider all the ways that I may have murdered someone in my heart, swearing seems like small potatoes.
Now I'm not advocating that everyone adopts a potty mouth and that it's okay to f-this and f-that. I just think there's bigger fish to fry.
But... I do find that sometimes, there really is no better word to describe a situation. I particularly like the sentiment behind the metaphor "when the sh@# hits the fan" or the term SNAFU (situation normal all F-ed up).