Created Dec. 10, 1999 - Updated Apr. 11, 2004
I have come to the conclusion that perhaps Christians have read very little of the Bible or otherwise, they too, might wonder about their often prudish stance in regards to sex or crude vulgar language. I really think it is important for Christians to reconsider their attitudes about this. Maybe they need to understand where these attitudes came from if they did not come from the Bible.
I repeat, we are not very realistic about the expectations of Christians as human beings. We do not understand the human conditions and its frailty. We are downright cruel and unreasonable in our demands upon our brothers and sisters. We can't possibly even come close to living up to them, so we start to pretend and lie. Lying and pretending are a far greater sin then many of the things we condemn and prohibit. It is time to re-examine these attitudes and make some changes. One can not claim to love one's brother and yet severely judge him by his language or sexual practices with his wife.
Solomon chose to explore, not only wisdom, but also folly and madness. It is natural that we might be inclined to do this, too. Our desire to know and understand all things could drive us as it did Solomon. Notice what he writes in Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 1:17 And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly.
Ecclesiastes 2:12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and
folly; for what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what he
has already done.
Ecclesiastes 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.
Ecclesiastes 7:25 I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness which is madness.
Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off an evil odor; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
Even psychologists want to understand why things go wrong and why people behave the way they do. It is not a surprise that Godly people should want to understand how people could be so bad or things go wrong. And I don't think there is great harm in admitting that during our "fact finding" mission, we may end up a little titillated and aroused as well. Now some might be disturbed by what they get excited by. The things that excite them may be things they think are terrible. And they may be. But again, this is part of the human condition. Nobody says, gee, I think I will get excited about something horrible. It is purely instinct. We are all victims of inherited sin.
It is not necessary to feel overly guilty because something disturbing arouses us. If the truth were to be known, as it sometimes is in psychology, it is actually very common. And when God makes us new and heals us, all that will disappear. But our hearts are not ours to control right now. It is Adamic sin that grips us right now. But thanks to the blood of Jesus, we will have that removed in time. Bottom line: what you feel inclined toward inside is between you and God. Your only job is to not let it cause you to commit real tangible sin.
Some Graphic Bible Accounts
What I would like to point out now to give people a better understanding of the Bible's attitude toward sex is to show some of the scriptures that comment on it. From this I will also show the attitudes that exist about so called vulgarity.
Proverbs 5:19 "let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love."
Talking about breasts satisfying you? Actually the word satisfy has to do with saturate or become intoxicated. So what the scripture says is enjoy them as much as you want, till you're totally satiated and intoxicated with them. Doesn't sound like it encourages any restraint, eh? Let's look at some of the comments from the Song of Solomon.
Song of Solomon
4:5 "Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that feed among the lilies."
4:9 "You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. 10 How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride! how much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! 11 Your lips distil nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon. 12 A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed. 13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, 14 nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all chief spices--"
4:15 "a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon. 16 Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its fragrance be wafted abroad. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits."
The Song of Solomon was intended to be somewhat provocative and sensuous. You can see by the descriptions that mention the breasts and their beauty and how the girl was described as a fragrant garden of fruits and scents. And she "invites" him to come to his garden and "eat" its choicest fruits. Sounds like a pretty good offer to me. Pretty suggestive, too. It was a song like this that was referred to by Ezekiel 33:32.
Ezekiel 33:32 "And, behold, you are to them as a singer of love songs with a beautiful voice, and playing well on an instrument. For they hear your words, but they are not doing them."
The Song of Solomon is loaded with such suggestive sorts of expressions from 2 young lovers. It might make some prudes blush but it is pretty tame compared to some stuff today. But when it comes to scathing condemnations given by God to those whom He disapproves, well, they can get pretty wild. Let me show you some samples of what I mean. Ezekiel 23 has some interesting things to consider. In 23, God describes Jerusalem and Samaria as 2 whores who had belonged to God. In their youth they had been whores or harlots and then God took them as wives, forgiving them. Their previous frolics and subsequent "unfaithfulness" was graphically described in sexual terms. The first one described was Samaria who was called Oholah.
Ezekiel 23:2 Son of man, there were two women, daughters of one mother. 3 And they fornicated in Egypt; in their youth they fornicated. Their breasts were handled, and there their virgin nipples were worked. 4 And their names were Oholah, the oldest, and Oholibah, her sister. And they were Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And their names: Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah. 5 And Oholah whored under Me. And she lusted after her lovers, to Assyrian neighbors, 6 clothed with purple, governors and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding horses. 7 And she bestowed her harlotries on them, the choice sons of Assyria, with all of them, and with all after whom she lusted. She defiled herself with all their idols. 8 And she did not leave her fornications from Egypt. For they lay with her in her youth, and they worked her virgin nipples and poured their fornications on her. 9 So I have given her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the sons of Assyria on whom she lusted. 10 They uncovered her nakedness.
Notice in verse 3 how their breasts were manhandled and worked. The original Hebrew language alludes to the breasts actually being perhaps bruised. Her lovers would attempt to arouse her maybe and possibly be rough in the process. It might have been indicating a somewhat abusive way in which the woman was being used, almost with contempt. She was had by many, many lovers but not respected, maybe. But regardless, she seemed to love it and could not get enough. But her sister would behave even worse. Lets continue.
Ezekiel 23: 11 And her sister Oholibah saw. And she was more corrupt in her lustfulness than she, and her fornications were greater than her sister's whoredom. 12 She lusted to the sons of Assyria, neighboring governors and rulers clothed most perfectly, horsemen riding horses, all of them desirable young men.
Ezekiel 23: 16 And she lusted after them, to the look of her eyes, and sent messengers to them into Chaldea. 17 And the sons of Babylon came to her, to the bed of love. And they defiled her with their fornications. And she was defiled with them, and her soul was alienated from them. 18 And she uncovered her fornications and uncovered her nakedness. Then My soul was alienated from her just as My soul was alienated from her sister. 19 And she multiplied her fornications to recall the days of her youth, in which she had fornicated in the land of Egypt. 20 And she lusted on their lovers of whom the flesh of asses resembles their flesh, and as the issue of horses was their issue. 21 So you longed for the wickedness of your youth, when from Egypt they worked your nipples, for the sake of the breasts of your youth.
Well, Oholibah, too, is shameful in her conduct going from partner to partner after partner. We might call her a slut in today's language. In verse 20, she lusts after the men because their flesh is like the flesh of asses. Flesh is used as a euphemism for penis. She evidently lusted after their large penises. And their issue refers to the gushing of fluid, used to indicate semen. So she was rather taken by their well endowed genitals and large sprays of semen. Of course, these were not the real sins of Jerusalem. They are metaphorical descriptions of her unfaithfulness to God. God chose to describe it in a graphic sexual way that evidently, Jerusalem would be familiar with. I would say that most of us would be familiar with it, too.
But I ask you, if I or anyone else were to speak at a church or to religious group and we elected to refer to something metaphorically, using sexual metaphors as the Bible has, speaking of big dicks or whatever, what would be said of us? We would be called perverts and obscene. We would be denounced as unholy and Godless. People would run in terror with children in tow. And yet all we would be doing is speaking like God and the Bible. I think it would be safe to say that most people who claim to be Christian do not know the Bible or God too well. Jesus had a similar problem. Many accused him of being a sinner, a glutton, a drunkard, and possessed of demons, a servant of the devil. We know not what we condemn which is why I have written this article. Now here is another scriptural passage to consider.
(GLT) Ezekiel 23:26 And they will strip you of your clothes, and take the articles of your beauty.
Ezekiel 23: 29 And they shall deal with you in hatred and take all your wealth, and shall leave you naked and bare. And the nudity of your adulteries will be bared, even your lewdness and your fornications. 30 These will be done to you because you have whored after the nations, because you are defiled with their idols. 31 You have walked in the way of your sister, and I will give her cup into your hand. 32 So says the Lord Jehovah: You shall drink your sister's cup deep and wide; you shall be laughed at and mocked, for it holds much. 33 With drunkenness and sorrow you are filled, the cup of horror and ruin, the cup of your sister Samaria. 34 And you shall drink it and drain it. And you shall break its fragments and tear off your breasts. For I have spoken, declares the Lord Jehovah.
I thought I would throw this in as it is similar to some of the descriptions of another whore in Revelation. As you can see, she is stripped naked and stripped of her wealth, laughed at and mocked. A prostitute who lives in utter shame and humiliation! She is so bad off, in such misery and shame, that she tears off her own breasts. Now notice Revelation's similarities.
Revelation 17:1 And one of the seven angels having the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying to me, Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot sitting on the many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the ones inhabiting the earth became drunk from the wine of her fornication.
Revelation 17: 4 And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and being gilded with gold and precious stone and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominations and unclean things of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead was a name having been written: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of the Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth.
Revelation 17: 15 And he says to me, The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, and will make her desolated and naked. And they will eat her flesh, and will burn her down with fire.
What I want to point out (not eagerly, though) what is described in verse 4. We have a well dressed prostitute, the mother of all harlots/prostitutes, loaded with fancy jewelry and a golden cup in her hand. What is in that cup? It says that the cup was filled with the unclean things of her fornication. Do you know what the unclean things of a prostitute's sexual encounters are? Well, especially back then, when latex condoms were not around! You had lots of semen go in and it was going to come back out, too. And if she wasn't too clean or healthy, there might have been some pus and blood as well. Maybe she was prostituting during her menstrual period, too, which is not unheard of for prostitutes. For sure, though, it is very far from a pleasant thought. A cup filled with such stuff? Enough to make you puke isn't it? That is exactly the reaction God intended. Because that is how disgusting this whore is to Him and He wants you to understand that. Did it work? I suspect it did. She is completely repulsive, isn't she? You wouldn't want to lock lips with her, would you?
Now consider a couple comments in Isaiah. Both mention a menstrual cloth, a tampon if you will, although the original Hebrew word is different in each case and in a sensitive argument such as this, we want to be sure translators have done their job correctly. Nevertheless, if they have, then there is something worth contemplating here.
Isaiah 30:22 And you shall defile the covering of your carved images of silver; and the covering of your molten images of gold. You shall cast them out like a menstruous cloth; you shall say to it, Go away!
01739 daveh daw-veh' ; from 01738; TWOT - 411b; adj
KJV - faint 2, sick 1, sickness 1, menstruous cloth 1; 5
1) faint, unwell : 1a) faint, weak : 1b) unwell, menstruous
01739. daveh daw-veh'; from 01738; sick (especially in menstruation):-- faint, menstruous cloth, she that is sick, having sickness.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as the unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as a menstruous cloth.
05708 `ed ayd ; from an unused root meaning to set a period [compare 05710, 05749]; TWOT - 1564a; n f
KJV - filthy 1; 1
1) menstruation : 1a) filthy rag, stained garment (fig. of best deeds of guilty people)
05708. 'ed ayd; from an unused root meaning to set a period [compare 05710, 05749]; the menstrual flux (as periodical); by implication (in plural) soiling:-- filthy.
od. See 05750.
Menstruous cloth does seem to be accurate. It is also not a very pleasant thing and that was why it was used in describing idols or Judah/Israel's sins. Both were very unpleasant to say the least, as far as God was concerned and that was how He wanted us to feel as well. The graphic image should get to us. So you see, women's unmentionables really aren't so unmentionable, after all.
Part of the problem why more people haven't perhaps recognized such accounts as the ones in Isaiah, Ezekiel or Revelation is because of less than candid translations. Instead of rendering the Bible exactly as they were reading it, they decided to "clean it up." But it was God who made it messy and left it messy in the first place. They seemed to have missed that. So we end up left in the dark. But the Hebrews also used euphemisms that were well known and understood by them but not so common to us. We also have many euphemisms that might not be common or well understood by them, either. It is the result of being 2 different cultures in two different time periods. But speaking of unclean things of fornication in a cup wouldn't immediately make us think of anything in particular until you actually stop and think about it.
Perhaps as interesting might be some of the language that is suggested in the Bible. And we do need to talk about language, too. I want to contrast some ways in which the Bible describes going to the bathroom and eliminating waste. We will start with the tame one. It is an account of King Saul having to relieve himself.
(RSV) 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself.
The first one makes the interpretation for us as some others do. But many literal translations such as Green's below, render it as it appears in Hebrew.
(GLT) 3 And on the way he came in to the folds of the flock. And there was a cave. And Saul went in to cover his feet.
When Saul went in, he actually took the garment off, and, unknown to him, David and his men were hiding in the very same cave. David cut the bottom off the garment and later came out and pointed it out to Saul as proof that David had no intention of killing Saul because if he had wanted to, he certainly could have done so in the cave while Saul was there. Saul's business in the cave was described in a respectable way that was no doubt a common way to describe the action just as we might describe it as going to the Ladies' or Men's room. A very sanitized description! But someone unfamiliar with our lingo, might not get what we are doing by going to a mens room. What do men do in a mens room? We know because it is our culture.
Now lets look at another description of the same thing in another circumstance. In this one, God is instructing Israel how to conduct itself in regards to their waste.
(RSV) Deuteronomy 23:12 "You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; 13 and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement.
No mixing of words here. God says exactly what He is talking about. He makes it clear. Now here is Rabshakeh of Assyria threatening Jerusalem in the following verse.
(KJV) 2 Kings 18:27 But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?
Rabshakeh uses strong words and they are recorded as they are told. Dung is used by God as well in describing what is to happen to people who do not obey Him. Notice that the King James Version also uses the word "piss." Some consider that a bad word. How could it be a bad word if it is in the Bible? The same goes for the word hell. It appears in the older bibles. If it is bad, then why is it in the Bible. How ridiculous! How did damn become objectionable? God often damned things. So did His servants. We probably better know it as cursing something or to curse something. Same thing. Why is one word bad and the other not?
God says of those whom He condemned (damned) that they will become as dung on the ground through prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel. We could use other words like shit that would say exactly the same thing, but then some would condemn it. Why? The meaning is exactly the same. Why has one word become so terrible? It makes no sense. What is obvious is that there is more than one word or one way to convey an idea, including how we describe our own human waste excretions.
How did some of these words become taboo. We have the Victorians to thank for that. They are the very dishonest ones who were so bothered by some things that they developed very hidden euphemized ways to refer to them. To use the real words whose meanings were direct and clear was considered horrible and uncultured, a veritable barbarian. But the Victorians were wrong! It was not the way it was done in the Bible and Christians need not be obligated to continue upholding the Victorian ways. They are not mandated in the Bible. So if one uses a word considered offensive to some, such as shit might be, they do not commit a sin against God. That does not mean that it is in their best interest to use that word, but they are not necessarily sinning against God if they use it.
But if their purpose in using it was to hurt, scare, or intimidate others, that could possibly be a sin. Our motives for doing things become the important thing. This too, is a topic I will further deal with soon.
But here is what I find unreasonable. We know that any wrath is not good. And out of control bursts of anger are definitely sin. But what about mere frustration or agitation? I would think it would be nearly impossible to avoid these. The Psalmists and prophets often felt frustration and outrage which are recorded in the Bible. Jonah got rather pissed off that God was going to spare Nineveh. The Apostle Paul had an outburst of anger with Barnabas in Acts 15:
15:39 And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.
It happens, doesn't it? Even among Apostles!
Peter said in his 2nd letter that Lot suffered due to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah.
2 Peter 2:8 "his righteous soul was tormented with their lawless deeds.
No doubt, he found it hard to put up what and bear what was going on around him. Ever had a bad or annoying neighbor? Then you know what I am talking about. You can't live in a world of sin and not have it get to you once in a while. It got to the prophets. Are you better than them? What happens when you get annoyed or frustrated? You might end up swearing. Many do! It is perfectly human and understandable. It is not unusual or a big deal.
Think of this. What is perhaps the smallest sin we can commit? Well, we know the big ones. But on a smaller scale, I would say that hurting someone's feelings is certainly a wrong to avoid. Being thoughtless or cruel to others in our speech would be good to avoid. Yet we have probably all committed that sin many times. Maybe unintentionally, maybe not! But we have likely all done it even if we are not aware of having done it. It is sin. But perhaps least harmful of anything we can do is utter a vulgar word after smashing a toe into something or hitting a thumb be mistake. We might shout out something vulgar. It happens. But you aren't hurting anyone, are you? It would be far worse to hurt another's feelings that to let out a vulgar word in relief of accidental pain.
Ever watched something on the news that you new was a lie or treacherous. Ever exclaimed, "Bullshit!" I think it would be perfectly understandable. It is not easy to take lies and deceit. It should stir something in us. It's called righteous indignation. Sin should evoke such things in us. That is likely what Lot felt. If it does, we might be inclined to utter a few words of "salt" or give an interesting "sermon."
There is a fascinating discourse in the book of James. It is in chapter 3:1-12.
(RSV) James 3:1 "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also."
James here makes the point all men make mistakes in what they say. We all fall short of perfection. And because of that he warns people to be slow to be a teacher for teachers will be more accountable than others. So we know we sin in word, everyone of us. Shall we accept what James says is so or will we still insist on perfection in the tongue? James continues:
"3:3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses that they may obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Look at the ships also; though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell."
Though small in size, the tongue is momentous in what it can cause. James points out how much the tongue hurts people in general. Of course, we know this is symbolic for it is actually the brain that manipulates the tongue/language. This is the part of us that causes so much harm. Not by vulgar words but by hurtful lies, vicious insults, and the many other things that can do so much harm to people. Notice that James "swears" by using the word "hell."
3:7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue--a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James states that no human being can tame the tongue. So how can we expect to tame the tongue if James says we can't! He also emphasizes the evil that can come from what we say.
3:9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
Here James points out how inconsistent it is that we are that way. That is the nature of sin. He states "this ought not to be so." But it is since Adam rebelled in the Garden of Eden. Of course, James is also trying to wake us up to the damage the tongue can do and have us reduce it as much as possible. As best as we can, we need to try and control the tongue and the trouble and hurt it can cause. But we will never be able to fully control it, either. We would be perfect if we could.
Vulgar words said out of frustration or disgust, as long as they aren't aimed at people, really don't do any harm. They relieve frustration or pain. That is good or we might have to go out a kill someone, right? Vulgar words or even ordinary words do harm when they are aimed at people. One can do incredible harm to people without using even 1 swear word. Vulgar words are not the problem. It is hurting people that is the problem. We hurt when we don't think. We hurt when we don't care. We hurt when we hate. When we hurt others, we sin. It is hurting others and not the use of vulgar words, that is the big sin.
I want to show from what I showed earlier about word usage, that it is not wrong to say bullshit or shit. They are legitimate words and describing lies as bullshit seems perfectly logical and correct to me. That is an excellent description of lies. Now there are worse words we could use. And we wouldn't want to use them on other people. But we might occasionally use them in the privacy of our homes when we get fed up with the lies and BS we get on the news. I am referring to that most horrible and terrifying of all English words, the four letter word that starts with F. and don't think I am afraid to print "fuck" here. I'm not. It needs to be talked about.
It is a potent word in the English language. There is no disputing that, for sure. But it has come to be used in a number of ways and has a number of meanings. If one were to use it to describe sex, well, what is the problem? Is it wrong to refer to sex? I should think not. But the real problem we have today is that while among some, use of the word is common and no big deal, among others, it is a horrifying and vulgar word. It caries a lot of power in some minds. But why is sex horrible or vulgar? If people are married then it is holy and sanctioned!
But we know that the word fuck has powerful meaning in the USA. Maybe it shouldn't but it does. If it wasn't that word, it would be another one in its place. Further, if you are trying to get on the good side of your wife, you might want to avoid describing sex with that word. There might be a few who are turned on by the use of that word but most find it a vulgar and demeaning way of referring to sex. Some use the word fuck to scare, threaten, or intimidate and it certainly seems to work. But it could also inflame, aggravate, or escalate anger and violence. So it would be good to avoid in those instances.
Knowing how our society feels about the word in general, it is best avoided as much as possible. It isn't necessary and rarely ever profitable. But it is still possible that someone may stub their toe or whatever a let out a good "fuck, that hurts" from their mouths. In this case, I don't see where it is a big deal. I would not judge a Christian for resorting to that word in that instance. I have done so myself.
The other problem is that for those who may have been brought up around that word or the attitudes that often produce that word, it is very ingrained into their speech and psyche. It is second nature, pure instinct. It is also very hard to change or eradicate such speech from one's vocabulary. Or if you live around it or work around it, or you hear it in school all the time, then you become conditioned to it and it loses its horror and becomes very familiar. You may slip into using it yourself on rare occasions.
It is a fact of life that the world we live in will have some affect on us. We can not avoid that and God understands that. But some of us don't understand that. Materialism is apt to affect us. We may reflect the way people dress or carry themselves by doing the same or similar. In so many ways we have a little bit of the world's stain on us, if only in minor ways. It would be impossible to be otherwise. That is why we seek out the best company and peers that we can, so that the stuff that rubs off from the world will be minimal. It is also why we have the Bible to guide us and tell us what is acceptable and what is not.
The Bible, in Ephesians 6:10-18, describes a figurative suit of armor from God that protects us from the designs of the devil. We are surrounded and attacked from all sides by the devil and his assaults. But with the armor of God, we can resist all those missiles and attacks of the devil. That includes the staining effects of the world. But keep in mind that what the Bible refers to is a relative resistance to the influence of the devil and the world. We can resist enough to please God sufficiently but not enough to be completely free from any effects. We will get mildly stained. That is unavoidable.
Many people make the mistake of taking every statement in the Bible as absolute in its meaning. But if that were so, the Bible would be so full of contradictions that no one could ever take it seriously. As a society heavily influenced by lawyers, we always clarify and make disclaimers. The Bible does not do this. It makes statements without always mentioning exceptions or disclaimers. It assumes that you know that. But that is assuming a lot in our world of communication breakdown, legal technicalities, and twisting of law, and a dumbed down population.
But we have to be fair and realize that a little bit of the world rubbing off on us is bound to happen. That is why God needs to purify the world in order to make it clean, spiritually speaking. Victorianism does not allow for that. Victorianism is wrong and completely unreasonable. It lies and pretends. We can't do that. We must realize that swearing is perhaps the very least of all sins that one could possibly commit. Yet, you will notice it is one of the things that upsets parents the most. Why?
I have seen Christian kids steal and the parents not think too much of that. But let the kids swear and the parents have a fit. It's almost as bad as getting laid in their minds, it seems. That's absurd! I have seen parents whose kids are thieves forbid them to play with Johnny down the street because Johnny swears. Well, swearing is a lot better than stealing. Of course, parents are much more tolerant, understanding, and forgiving of their own.
But we have got everything twisted, mixed up, confused, and turned upside down. Swearing is the least offensive of all crimes against God. And in many instances, so called swearing does not even violate God's laws at all. Only Victorian law is violated. It is time to grow up and smarten up, folks. If it is not a sin, and God does not forbid it, but you judge someone for it anyway, it is entirely possible that you will have to answer to God for judging a person to be a sinner when they are not. You could get into some serious trouble. You might want to rethink things!
It also strikes me that it is quite unreasonable to expect that a child can not and will not get angry or frustrated just as we do. Why shouldn't they? They are human, too, aren't they? It is so ridiculous to think that there is nothing that ever could or should frustrate or annoy them! They are no different from us. So they should be allowed to get if off their chest, too. Yes, they should be able to swear in moderate amounts providing that you only swear in moderate amounts. If they hit their thumb with a hammer, they are entitled to a good four letter word . . . and maybe use the hammer a bit more carefully, too.
It would be entirely wicked for parents to swear and yet forbid the children to do so. And if they swear profusely, then the kids should be allowed to do so to. If it is wrong for the kids, then it is wrong for the parents. To have it any other way is extreme wickedness and hypocrisy and will be judged severely by God. In all things, you can not insist on what you, your selves, can not uphold and live up to. I marvel at parents who smoke like crazy and yet tell their kids, "don't ever let me catch you smoking!" Hypocrites! Don't go picking the straw out of your brother's or children's eyes when there is a log/rafter sticking out of yours. Teach and lead by example or forget it. Credibility is more important than kids living as absolute saints. They don't need to be saints. They just have to avoid the really big things for now like unmarried sex!
So really, there are far greater things that should occupy Christian's and parent's time than worrying about swearing. I don't think people will be helped by swearing a lot but we do live in a messed up world. If we react to it with righteous indignation, we are apt to use vulgar words to describe it and justly so. But in general, the less we swear the better in view of how others might perceive us which is worth considering and not good to completely ignore. I don't doubt that. But it is not worth giving a lot of effort or attention to or getting obsessed over. Much better would it be to make sure that we are more respectful and considerate of others feelings and welfare, than to give all our time and attention to something so trivial by comparison to the most important things. We need to Prioritize!!! Sweat the big stuff and don't sweat the little things. They will come after Christ returns.
In the next few paragraphs I am going to show the various ways that the Bible refers to sexual intercourse. There is something to be learned from it all. The first is in Genesis where Lots daughters act shamefully by getting him drunk so that they can get pregnant by him. They were under the impression that they were the only survivors around since Sodom and Gomorrah had been wiped out. So they would continue the human race by means of their father.
However, it should be noted that God had not given the law to Israel yet. In fact, Israel did not exist yet. Jacob, who would become Israel, had not even been born. So the law had not been given to prohibit this but there still may have been an understanding of law passed down that it was wrong. That is quite likely, given the care to show that Lot was not responsible for taking part in this action. It also demonstrates how much Sodom and Gomorrah had influenced Lot's daughters, too, perhaps.
(RSV) Genesis 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and
we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring through our
33 So they made their father drink wine that night; and the first-born went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
Lot's daughters referred to sex as "to lie with" or "lay with" in this passage. It should also be noted for Lot's sake that he had no idea that his daughter had come in, laid down, got up, or gone out. He was out of it. She, no doubt, was the one who did the work, so to speak, and caused him to inseminate her. In the case of these daughters, I think straddle was a more accurate but more graphic term, which the scriptures ordinarily try to avoid, preferring more gentle language. Another common way to refer to sex is the term "know" or "knew" as we can see in the next verse. This is the same Hebrew word for "know" that is typically used it indicate knowledge or something intellectual. It is also used to indicate a sexual knowledge of someone. This is not an unknown reference even for our culture in our day. But we have more common terms that refer to sexual activity such as "having her," taking her" "doing her," "getting laid," or something of that nature.
These are euphemisms. Hebrews had their own way and we have ours as discussed earlier. These are ways that either make something seem more polite or even to make them sound worse. The problem you have with euphemisms is that they vary from culture to culture. So what is commonly understood by one culture may not be understood at by another culture when the words are translated. For instance, if I say I am going to the men's room, we in the USA know that means I am going to the bathroom. Another culture may not know what a men's room is. What do men go to a men's room for? They might think it was a room for men to talk and associate with just their own sex or maybe to have sex with women. Who knows?
The dilemma for a translator is, should I translate a term by its exact meaning and leave it to you to figure out that what you are reading is a euphemistic phrase? Or should they assume the euphemism, interpret it, and translate it into terms that you will not misunderstand? Should they leave the word men's room or should they change it to outhouse or a place to deposit your excrement, maybe. And when they see that Adam knew Eve, should they leave it as "knew" or change it to "had sex with" or some similar term.
Well, over the years, various translators have been split on this. Some did it one way and others to the other way. I think it is very valuable to have translations of both types. This is why I like to view a number of different translations and refer to the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible as well. You get a better feel for how the Ancient Hebrew culture spoke of things. And this is important for us so that we can figure out a proper way to speak, without being too loose or too strict in our own speech. Let's continue with the scriptures. Here is the one I mentioned with Adam and Eve.
(GLT) Genesis 4:1 "And the man knew his wife Eve. And she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah."
4:25 "And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son. And she called his name, Seth"
Here we see how the Hebrews referred to sex with one's wife as "knowing her," basically referring to having a certain intimate knowledge of one's wife or whoever. It is a fairly common term for sex in Hebrew. The next passage is from Leviticus 20. It speaks of various sexual relations that are forbidden by God. I quote several translations so you can see the slight differences which are not significant, even thought they do vary just slightly.
(KJV) 20:12 "And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them."
(GLT) 20:12 "And a man who lies with his daughter-in-law"
The key in the 2 scriptures is "lie with" or "lies with" as referring to sex. In the same translation (GLT) a few verses later, the Bible uses another term as follows.
(GLT) 20:17 "And if a man takes his sister, the daughter of his father or daughter of his mother, and he has seen her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a shame."
(KJV) 20:19 "You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister or of your father's sister, for that is to make naked one's near kin; they shall bear their iniquity."
To see another's nakedness or uncover another's nakedness, or make another naked are other ways to refer to sex. One, without discerning the euphemism, might be inclined to think this referred to only nudity. But that is not the case. Now in Leviticus 18, just 2 chapters before 20, we see the same things described in both chapters but worded slightly different in Chapter 18.
Leviticus 18:20 And you shall not give your semen to the your neighbor's wife by lying with her, for uncleanness with her.
It also describes as sin giving an animal your semen. So giving semen is yet another way (a more obvious one) to describe sex.
(RSV) 20:19 "Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, 'If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness, while you were under your husband's authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. 20 But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you"
Here we are introduced to the word "lain" as another term. In the next series, I wanted to demonstrate how different Hebrew terms are all translated into the same English term. There are 5 scriptures from the King James Version that use the word ravished which refers to sex of one sort or another. I quote all 5.
Proverbs 5:19 "Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let
her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always
with her love."
Proverbs 5:20 "And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?"
The term "ravished" in these two proverbs comes from the Hebrew word "shagach." It means to stray, wander, or get lost. It has to do with getting intoxicated or being enraptured. Getting lost in the moment, you might say. And so the Bible counsels to let yourself get carried away and lost in the love and beauty of your wife and not do so with another woman. The next scripture uses ravished for another Hebrew word.
Song of Solomon 4:9 "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck."
Here the Hebrew word is "labab." It generally means to be encircled. It is only used 5 times in the Bible. In this scripture, his heart is encircled by just one of her eyes, indicating that they were captivating in the extreme and he was totally captivated by just one eye or chain on her neck.
Isaiah 13:16 "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished."
Zechariah 14:2 "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city."
The Hebrew word used here, "shagal," is very similar to the first one, "shagah." It essentially means "to copulate with," or "be copulated with." In these 2 scriptures, it indicates rape. So most translations use the word rape. Now the last use of "ravished." I might point out the many British/English describe having sex with someone as Shagging or to shag someone. I suspect they took it from the Hebrew language.
Lamentations 5:11 "They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah."
This form comes from the Hebrew word "anah." It means looking down someone or browbeating. It is most typically translated as afflict, humble, or force. Rape is a good choice for this scripture which is what ravished often signifies. Here is another way that rape is described:
(RSV) 2 Sam 13:14 "But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her, and lay with her."
They indicate it here by showing it was by force that he lay with her. Her brother then asks:
(RSV) 2 Sam 13:20 And her brother Absalom said to her, "Has Amnon your brother been with you?"
It might seem like he was playing the matter down but if you read further, you would see that was not the case. The Bible is generally quite respectful when describing sexual behavior except in the case of referring to the immoral lack of faithfulness on the part of Israel/Samaria or Judah. Then it gets quite graphic and harsh. So there is a very clear contrast. You can get either extreme depending on the situation. And that is what I wanted to make clear. There is a time and place for everything, right?
When God is disgusted with something, you don't have to wonder about it. In that case, He is not subtle, and He does not mix words. In fact, for most uninformed Christians, such language might be shocking until they realize it comes from the mouth of none other than God, Himself. And one need not conclude that the Hebrews were prudes because they described sexual relations with euphemisms. I must point out that even in our sex saturated society in the USA, we most often use euphemisms unless we are trying to be vulgar or threatening. And in fact, many of our euphemisms actually give sex a more vulgar feel. Our direct references to sex are often more clinical and sanitized than our euphemisms.
But since people sometimes have difficulty discerning about what might be meant by certain phrases, I do believe that translations are most useful when they interpret the euphemism into its real meaning. It doesn't require as much discernment from the reader. But being familiar with both types of translations is nothing a Christian should skip. Get to know them both. It will help increase your powers of discernment. Sometimes translators don't discern all the euphemisms and phrases used to signify something. By getting well acquainted with phrases, you are in a position to make discernments for yourself and be dependent on no one.
Now we have viewed a number of different ways in which the Bible refers to sex and going to the bathroom, which are two things we often refer to with euphemisms that help to sanitize them or put them in a more flattering light. That is not a bad thing. But the Bible sometimes drops the sanitization and flattery in favor of something much more graphic and to the point. There are times when we should do the same, perhaps. Having read the Bible, we can have a better idea of when it might be merited and when not. But we certainly want to be careful not to judge a person because of the words they may choose to use. Maybe we would not use them in the same situation as another might, but that is a personal choice. Victorians have no right to tell us what to do unless they can refer to the Bible as the authority on the matter.
Now in regards to this subject and others to follow, I bring up something addressed just a little earlier and addressed by Paul in his letters. Paul had some good rules in 1 Corinthians 10:
1 Corinthians 10:23 ""All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.""
Whatever it is we do, we should be doing it, not for our own selfish satisfaction, but for that of our brothers and sisters in the faith, as well as friends, family, and the community in which we live.
If you look at what Paul also writes in verses 29 & 30, he then takes the opposite position for sake of argument that some could take when he asks rhetorically:
"10:29 For why should my liberty be determined by another man's scruples? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?"
Good question, right? And why? Because it might be misunderstood to others, or induce them to that behavior without understanding why, or could lead them to sin. But as we can see from 23 & 24 and 31-33, we need to consider what others might think or conclude from our actions. We don't want to give offense to anyone unnecessarily. Seek not just your own advantage, but the advantage of the many. So we don't want to be selfish in how we behave. Think of others, too. They matter in God's eyes and they had better matter in your if you care about God.
Keep in mind that the things I present or will present here are rather radical in the main stream Christian climate of America. It is not likely that anything I write is going to seriously alter that, either. So while there may be more freedom than Christians have formerly recognized, you may still want to conduct yourself in a proper manner that will not cause others to question your dedication to God. I write here to ease the burden of your conscience. I do not write to change your behavior. I write to make you more understanding and tolerant of other's behavior rather than liberate your own.
It is easy for Americans who are big on individual rights and personal rights and freedoms to focus on those and not give consideration as to how their actions or behavior might affect the society or community in which they live. Christians were instructed not to allow God's laws to be ignored among their own. Such disobedient ones were to be ignored and given the silent treatment, put out from the congregation. Tolerating sin within the congregation could induce others to embrace it. So if adultery were not punished, more might be enticed by it.
It is a sad fact that while we should be dedicated to obeying God, regardless of who else does not, there is strength in numbers and weakness in numbers. What others do around us can influence us! We all like to be a part of the gang and be accepted. We are all very vulnerable to peer pressure. So we have to maintain good conduct in our peer group and keep it at a high level. There are individual rights and interests but there are also the needs, interests, and rights of the community, the larger body, and of the congregation, and of society in general. Those are given little attention today but they are very important in the Bible.
So we want to behave in a way that others will not misunderstand. Paul gives as an example in 1 Corinthians 10, the situation where a Christian knows an idol is nothing. But that is not the understanding of a pagan. The pagan sees it as much more. So if a Christian ate meat offered to an idol, it could be because he sees the idol as nothing. But the pagan watching may think the Christian to be a hypocrite, knowing that Christians are not supposed to worship idols. Or he may not know what is proper for Christians and may be led to believe that it is OK for Christians to worship idols. So for his sake, if he declares that the meat is an offering to an idol, then a Christian would not eat it, even though he knows the idol is nothing.
For a lot more on this subject click on this question/article:
The Christian Conscience: On Pagan Origins
That being said, there may still be times when people misunderstand you, despite your best efforts. It will happen. First of all, we are all imperfect and stumble from time to time, even if just in small ways. Also, too, many things today are deemed as wrong for Christians to do and yet they may not be wrong. Is it important? Is it necessary? If not then avoid doing it. But if it is hardly avoidable, you could offer explanation as to why you feel free to do it. Sometimes, you will just have to let things be. But always be found doing as much as you can to prevent misunderstandings and wrong impressions. That is all anyone can ask.
I, myself, well know that the world sees things almost the complete opposite way that the Bible does. Almost anything you do today will be in contrast with what is deemed proper. That is why I write about these things. I try to show how different the world's views are from the Bible's. Many so called Christians are far too conservative and misled in my mind. To modify your conduct to their expectations would be impossible and I would never expect you to even try.
What I say is, as much as possible, restrict your behavior to things that seem reasonable and modest. Avoid extremes if possible. I say that, understanding that nearly anything would be seen as extreme by many. You will not be judged by me as you might be by nominal Christianity or the world. But don't go around trying to push their buttons and offend them as much as possible with your newly found freedom, either.
They deserve some understanding and sympathy. They, like all of us, have been taught a certain way by the people they love and trust. It is never easy to realize that those you trusted for guidance and direction didn't necessarily think things through too well. It hurts and that is unavoidable. So be kind, gentle, and merciful to such ones. Perhaps through your understanding and gentleness, you will show them that they are wrong and they will want to change, too. That should always be our real objective - to bring people closer to Christ!
Paul wrote the following at Ephesians 5:3:
"5:3 But let not fornication, and all uncleanness, or greediness, be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 also baseness, and foolish talking, or joking (the things not becoming), but rather thanksgiving. 5 For be knowing this, that every fornicator, or unclean one, or covetous one, who is an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."
Now Paul says we shouldn't even name or mention fornication, uncleanness, baseness, or foolish talking and joking. How do we talk about them, then? And Paul mentioned them, right? He once remarked that he wished those who insisted on circumcision would get emasculated, themselves. And how do we reconcile this with how God spoke through Ezekiel referring to Jerusalem as being a whore and lusting after large penises and gushes of semen? Does the Bible contradict itself?
Well, if you are a faithful Christian, you will not give room for the Bible contradicting itself, just as Abraham never gave thought to the idea that God would go back on a promise. So then we must decide how to make sense of two extremes of scripture.
To me, Paul was setting a standard, the very highest standard for people to follow. Paul was using what I call an extremism. Jesus used them, too. I explained them in detail in my article, "How to Interpret the Bible." But extremes are used to make a point in a very prominent way. It is known as being facetious. It is not intended to be taken literally. But we are to understand from them what point is being made, even if done so in an extreme way to make the point.
God can talk about the penises of asses/mules/donkeys and the issue/ejaculation of horses and sluts/whores lusting after them, then we are probably safe in using them in a similar way for a similar purpose. But we certainly want to strive for the best speech possible, no doubt.
It was never my idea to trivialize the smaller sins that we all live with in ourselves due to what we inherited from Adam. Giving in to them and not trying to control them could lead to sin and destruction. My purpose was to show that we all have it and live with it and should not be judging each other for it. Further, maybe some things are not the sins we thought they were.
Also, we all have to accept a certain amount of sin in ourselves and others or we will not be showing love for our brothers. We would be judging others too harshly. In addition, some people are really bothered by things they think or feel inside. I wanted them to understand that what they have inside is what we all have inside to some degree. We need to be honest and confess our sins in a general non-specific impersonal way. So I have done that for everyone.
Solomon warns us in Ecclesiastes 7:16 "Do not be too much righteous, nor make yourself overly wise; why destroy yourself?"
Being too righteous will bring disaster to us. Going around being a know-it-all will hurt us, too. Self-righteousness is annoying, isn't it? So don't do it. The Pharisees of Jesus day were great for that but they were also sternly reproved by Jesus for that, too.
But I am now going to flip the coin a little. A problem that plagues the USA in the beginning of the 21st century is that our society displays many attitudes that exude a flagrant disregard for God's laws. We have become very vulgar, crass, cynical, etc. We don't want to be vulgar unless it is merited as God felt it was in Ezekiel. In general, we want to pursue speech that is clean as in upbuilding, encouraging, kind, thoughtful, respectful, and polite.
The focus should be on being caring about others rather than worrying about what words we choose to be nice with. Among friends, even vulgar words can be used to be encouraging. But vulgar language can still hurt us if we use it. We strive for the best, the cleanest, no mediocre, right?
It is odd that nearly all levels of society now use vulgar language from political leaders and other high powered personnel right down through business people and all walks of life. It is not just for crooks or bums anymore. We don't want to get caught up in that spirit of hurtfulness and crass way of looking at life and speaking about it. We have to watch our attitudes that we don't get caught up in always seeing the worst in all things which might make us inclined to swear.
At the same time, there is plenty in the world that is horrible to take or digest and could leave one feeling like swearing. I can't point a finger at that. The prophets often felt disgust and outrage at the disregard of God's law as we now see plenty of today. They got mad and so should we. Lets just try to handle it in the best way possible and be careful not to let it completely sour our view of all things and people.
The test of a great person is not what they can handle when everything is going fine. The test of a great person is the one who can keep their heads when everything is going to hell, so to speak. Put another way, any sailor can sail in a calm sea. But a sailor will only distinguish himself as capable when he can handle the rough waves and weather.
As things get worse, The boys get separated from the men. And the Christians are manifest when things get rough. That is when they will shine and really look good. That is what we want to strive for.
I wrote this article to be used along with several others. This article is very important when considering ideas like what is permissible or not among married people in regards to sex practices, or whether pornography is objectionable, or how it might affect other aspects of sexual issues in the lives of Christian life. This is a necessary stepping stone for these other subjects as it give us an idea of God's view of language, and therefore, possibly, of other things as well. God shows that He is not a prude and we don't have to be, either. We have our Father's proper example to help set the right limits for us.
I have written quite a few things in other articles on this site. Some bear a lot of relevance to this subject and you might find them worth reading.
Birth Control and Marriage
Is Masturbation Wrong?
Tolerance and Individual Belief
|Love, The Most Important Christian
Should I Avoid Things with Pagan Origins?
How to Understand and Interpret the Bible
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