Exegesis. I was told in seminary first day not to use that word in public. It is the research and understanding of scripture but a no no in many ways to use those big words from seminary because they distance us. And today it brought me to a nifty if slightly inaccurate blog post. I say inaccurate because actually two verses quoted about foul language are not about that at all. They are about God’s name (which is NOT the same a foul language) and evil expression (which is about speaking badly of others and lies). They are NOT about using base/crass words that commoners used. They are also not about using words for proper emphasis when called upon.
I would argue, as I seem to have done a lot recently, that the f-bomb is not only a good word in its proper context but it is absolutely an appropriate prayer. Proof is in the putting. And I am going to type it so if you don’t like it stop reading RIGHT NOW.
Think about the moment that you found out a loved one died; about the moment you got fired, the moment you found out your lover cheated on you, you were served with divorce papers or your friend/child/spouse fell off the wagon again and is no longer clean and sober. Or… or… or. All moments when we have NO words, the moments we need every word in our vocabulary and cannot get them out at the same time.
It hurts. It hurts SO BAD that you need more than the language you use every day. You need to express in moans, groans, and sighs that you are HURTING and it is excruciating!
And then, there is that word. THE 4 letter word. The f-bomb. The one we make up all kinds of cleaner versions of to feel better about saying. Frick. Frack. Fudge. Freak. That crass, base, disgusting, dirty, hungry, sensual, sexual, cruel, violent, virulent word.
There it is. THE word. The word that suddenly fits in the moment our hearts and bodies and spirits are desperate for expression, comfort, and connection. Except, just when we need it most we got told it is sinful.
So is rape. Yet loving mutual consensual intercourse is not. What is the difference? When we use it to harm it is sinful. When we use it to connect, relate, reach out to our God, and each other to strengthen relationship through truth and expression it becomes Holy. Sacred. Special.
The Bible does not tell us not to use coarse language. It tells us not to curse (which is to literally wish ill upon another) It tells us not to use God’s name in vain (and let me tell you that is done every day all over the place and we don’t batt an eyelash!) It tells us not to speak evil. It also tells us to reach out to God and the Holy Spirit will translate. It tells us to seek God’s face and pour ourselves out into relationship with God in all ways, through all things.
And then there is Paul, a disciple of Jesus, who uses the word skubala in our perfectly Holy book. And for once we have the perfect translation: Shit. But we don’t use that word even though Paul did. And he was right to use it because he used it to make a point and because it was the right word from an educated and well written man.
Shit is not a foul word. It is not evil or using God’s name in vain. It is considered foul language because back in the middle ages everyone used it and the wealthy wanted a different name for shit so that they sounded different from the poor people. It was their super special secret code language. This is why we call the meat on the table pork and beef and venison not pig and cow and deer. It was about class differentiation and making someone else feel like they do not belong because they don’t have the super, secret, special code.
But I am here to do what Christ did: knock down those barriers. Which means I am learning how to use my English language, all of it, for the best use. I discovered upon death of a dear loved one that fuck, a word I have said only a handful of times in my life, was the right word when my grief felt like drowning. I cried it out to God and God heard me.
Go ahead. Use the words. You know the ones. Not the ones that use God’s name in vain. Don’t use the words to call someone names or hurt them. Don’t use them idly and without purpose. But don’t be afraid of them either. They are a gift and the best pastors, the best Christians in fact, know how to recognize that there is a time and place where the right word is the holiest word and when used in the right way brings us closer together, bare, without airs, without cover, or excuse or ego, ready for relationship and communication with our God.