I messed up, so this is my apology post.

sorry-229978_640I messed up, so this is my apology post.

Friday, I let you in on my internal conversation as I worked through my reaction to another Christian blogger’s choice to swear. I was upset that commenters on her page were bullying other commenters who asked about the Biblical commands to refrain from foul language. In defending their freedom from “legalism,” these commenters made unkind and unloving statements.

In my desire not to be equally unloving, I expressed approval for this writer’s choice to swear. One or two loyal readers called me out on condoning sin and they were right. I apologize for that. It was just poor writing on my part. It wasn’t my intention to convey that I approve of her choice to use foul language but that is what I did so I apologize.

I believe this writer’s motivation is love for the people she’s trying to reach. She chooses to use the language in writing that pops up in her daily speech to avoid hypocrisy. I appreciate her attempt at transparency while still believing she’s made the wrong choice. I admit to occasionally swearing in my speech but because I believe it’s always wrong, I won’t reflect that speech in writing because in writing, there’s always time to think and make the better choice. That’s where she and I differ.

If you’re a regular reader, I hope it’s clear I believe in obedience to God’s Word. While I confess to a desire to be “cool,” since my childhood I’ve chosen obedience to Christ over “coolness.” Still there’s nothing perfect about my walk with Christ. Christian writers wrestle with how to reflect truth and transparency in our work without elevating sin or tripping others up. Envying the popularity of these writers who swear is a sin. As I grow in Christ, I am increasingly able to keep my eyes on His plan for me without comparing myself to others but sometimes, I lapse. Jesus is there with grace for me when I fall and I try to extend the same to others.

Beyond swearing, I was trying to write about Christian bullying. We’re more likely to fall into bullying if we lose sight of our own sinfulness. Swearing is low-hanging fruit. It’s very easy to call someone out for it and we usually should. But, it’s always better to do any correction without the self-righteous indignation that often accompanies the call out. (I believe there are times to look beyond the swearing, especially of new or immature believers, and try to hear what they’re saying rather than focus on pointing out their sin.)

We’re not as quick to call out brothers and sisters who speak equally sinful unkind, prideful, gossipy, complaining, critical, argumentative, selfish, or arrogant words. The correction on these verbal sins isn’t as quick and or as harsh. That’s wrong and unloving and I do believe it’s that double standard that contributes to the backlash of Christian writers who swear.

I enjoy watching Downton Abbey and I get a kick out of Dame Violet Crawley but she’s not a role model for Christian women. Yes, we should be honest, direct, and unafraid of what other people think but we’re also called to speak words that are kind, loving, generous, and full of grace. That’s not how I would characterize Violet’s speech.

Still, Christian women aren’t protesting Downton Abbey even though it celebrates a character whose sins of the tongue are numerous.* It’s messed up for us to condemn someone who swears while laughing and winking at someone who regularly unleashes unkind, critical, self-serving tongue-lashings. If we avoid watching movies that feature cursing for fear of being influenced, why aren’t we concerned about being influenced by Dame Crawley? I don’t believe the answer is to condemn Downton Abbey (which I watch) OR people who watch movies with occasional language. I believe the answer is to spend more time in God’s Word, prayer, worship, and fellowship with Christ so that we can be in this world but be more influenced by Him then by whatever else we encounter.

*I believe the writer of Downton Abbey makes it clear that Violet’s harsh words are most detrimental, in the long run, to Violet.

Yes, we live in a world where there’s been too much compromise on the topic of sin. Yes, we need to be obedient to Christ and be willing to risk disapproval and “uncoolness” to call sin exactly what it is. But the Bible tells us “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1.

For me, that means we correct with a spirit of humility, remembering the number of times we’ve needed correction. It means we don’t throw scripture verses at one another like darts or whack one another with them like billy clubs. It means our goal is not condemnation but restoration. It means we respect one another, speak the truth boldly and gently, and trust the Holy Spirit to work.

Overall, I think we’re all too in love with the rapid-fire response to anything. I’m not afraid to confront sin but I try not to be quick to open my mouth. I feel it’s important to take time to a) check myself, b) ask for God’s heart for the person in question, and c) to consider how this person is most likely to hear correction. In my understanding of God’s Word, that’s the direction of spiritual maturity.

God needs neither my defense nor my protection, He needs my obedience and that means being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry whether I’m listening to someone swear or listening to someone be judgmental.

I’m sorry I went so far as to say I applaud those writers for their choice to swear in their writing. That was wrong. I appreciate the readers who responded with concern, your correction makes me a better writer. To the readers who pointed out that Jesus was able to reach people without swearing, I also believe He didn’t walk around calling out every person He encountered on every sinful word they uttered in His presence and that’s what this is really about.

In these days of the Internet, it’s far too easy to assemble a condemning mob. We should stand up boldly for truth but let’s do that with the wisdom of Christ and obedience to His entire Word.

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10 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. elizabeth says:

    I appreciate you. Your openness, frankness, loving kindness toward all of us messed up mortals is exactly what I need. Keep doing what you are doing. You’re doing good. (poor grammar intentional…I practice doing one thing imperfectly every day…I’m done for the day now…yay me)

  2. Melanie Gibson says:

    I agree – scripture is not meant to be used as a weapon against other followers of Christ. It is only meant to be used in the fight against the forces of sin and evil. On a less serious note, I am also a Downton Abbey fan, and what came to mind as I was thinking about Dame Crawley is the time when another character pointed out that everyone has a wild man inside of them, and she said in reply, “If only he would stay in there. ” Sometimes she puts her elegant foot in her mouth, and sometimes she gets it right.

  3. Joyce says:

    That’s why God made palms and foreheads. (Thank you Father that our palms are soft and foreheads are sturdy because they tend to make contact quite frequently. Amen)

  4. Patsy Arrouet says:

    Praise God that “love covers a multitude of sins”! We are so quick to throw stones, not seeing our own faults while wanting to correct others. Thanks for coming clean, Lori. An example for us all. Your work agitates, inspires, convicts, and assists me as I see things from your point of view. May the Lord continue to use you to open hearts and minds to the truth of His word, and use your blog to help us live authentic Christian lives. Keep up the excellent work!

  5. Amen, amen, amen! Speaking the truth in love just keeps getting more difficult by the hour, doesn’t it! Keep on “keeping on” dear sister!

  6. Linda says:

    I wouldn’t advise taking Gods name in vain.
    However this got me wondering where the concept of swear words came from? Who decided what words are swear words. I don’t recall seeing them in the Bible.
    Anyway we are all under construction. A work in progress.
    Our lessons do not come to us in the same order or at the same time, so be kind to each other, and watch our words as they have power.

    • I would never advise taking God’s name in vain, Linda. In my mind, that wasn’t part of this conversation. I was addressing using words commonly considered as swears in the English language.

  7. Andrew Chiu says:

    Lori,
    You continue to inspire me with your writing and although you may find this ironic, this apology has told me more about your faith and convictions than any of your previous writing. It is not the many well crafted essays, the elegant turn of phrase, the calculated piece of writing that persuades most but this self denying, truthful act of humility that is a genuine apology. You correctly point out an essential truth every Christian must never lose sight of; one must never lose sight of one’s own inevitable sin life. It is the only safeguard against the self righteousness of those Christians who forget the only righteousness we have is given us by Yeshua Messiah. We neglect our own need of continual lifelong sanctification at our peril particularly in our treatment of others. The examples of the consequences of self-sin blindness are legion and best served by each of us looking long and hard in the mirror daily. Bless you for speaking truth even at your own expense. In so doing, you glorify God.

  8. Cindy Sims says:

    You are an inspiration! We are all a ‘work in progress’ in our relationship with Jesus. As you so skillfully pointed out – if we read and study God’s word, seek His face in prayer then He will show us how we need to conduct ourselves to be the best testimony for Him. God bless!