Warning: This post contains strong language. If you’re offended by strong language, please do yourself a favor and take a pass on this post. Thanks! –David
As most of you know, I grew up in a conservative home. Our pastors used Biblical language often, and I rarely used bad words. In later years, I began dropping them now and then for emphasis and the shock factor.
I blame my friend Tim for my shrinking vocabulary: while we were working on one project, I used the “f” word more times in a single hour than I had in my entire 26 years up to that point.
Today I saw an article about the CIA torture report. My initial response was to share it on Facebook with this comment:
America isn’t going to incur God’s judgment for allowing same-sex marriage. If America incurs God’s judgment, it’ll be for this shit.
Then I realized that I had a stronger word in my vocabulary for this than “shit.” I edited the post.
America isn’t going to incur God’s judgment for allowing same-sex marriage. If America incurs God’s judgment, it’ll be for this wickedness.
“Shit” is merely indicative of something bad. It’s vague, and could be anything from misplacing one’s car keys to an earthquake.
“Wickedness” is a different animal altogether. The word “shit” as a descriptor for the atrocities revealed in the CIA torture report, while offensive language, is actually weaker language than “wickedness.”
I have several friends who are atheists. I would guess many liberal pundits are atheists. The advantage I, as a person of faith, have over them, is access to Biblical language. Bernie Sanders can call tax breaks for billionaires with a high rate of poverty “not a moral society.” Because of my religious background and current convictions, I can avoid mincing words: I can call it unrighteousness. I can call it sin.
My nonreligious friends can call the CIA torture immoral and wrong. I can call it wickedness, and evil. (I can also use their words, but I think mine are stronger).
My atheist friends can say “F**k this shit.” I can say that, or I can say “Damn this shit to hell.” Damning something to Hell is infintely worse than f**king something
Nonreligious people can talk about Karma. I can too, but when I need something stronger, I have “the judgment of God” in my arsenal.
You can have “wrong” to describe torturing people. I’ll use it too, but I won’t hesitate to use “sin” and “evil” alongside it.
The religious right has taken over words like “condemnation” to describe what they think God will do to America if we allow gay marriage. If God condemns, we have a stack of iniquities a mile high, and gay marriage isn’t one of them.
Use your words, people.
David M Schell
I am a doubter and a believer. I have a Master's in Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, but because faith grows and changes, I don't necessarily stand by everything I've ever written, so if you see something troubling further back, please ask! Read More.
One thought on “The Power of Biblical Language”
With this your post, David, you make me think about two topics.
First. In the Walloon language, one word may be vulgar in one region, and not vulgar in another region, and vice versa. So, when I translate bible texts into Walloon, I always have to be careful. Nevertheless, in Walloon, there are less occurancies of vulgar words, as in the sex vocabulary, there is little to no frotier between the polite and the vulgar.
Second. My grandparents, who taught me to speak my first language, used many vulgar words. Later, in my parents’ house, the vulgar words were fobidden. But later on, I discovered the same vulgar words in the liturgical books, as as normative words. You have something similar in English: you have 65 occurances of «whore» in the King James Bible, 32 oc. of «suck», 2 oc. of «piss».