Disclaimer: this post may use swear words. If you don't like that sort of thing, stop reading. You have been warned.
Is there a place for swearing in Christianity? Like most good evangelical types, I feel kind of uncomfortable with the idea that swearing in some contexts might be okay. There are certain words I really hate to hear let alone use, and I can't help an automatic feeling of guilt whenever i do swear, especially if it's in anger (something that happens altogether too much).
However, I'm not too sure swearing is always that wrong. Here's my reasoning.
Firstly, swearing is IN THE BIBLE!! Oh, not our sanitised, Good News/NIV/King James versions, but it is there.
Example: Philippians 3:8. Paul describing how much he values Christ compared to his old way of life. This is what he says in the Greek:
ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω...
Literal translation: "But indeed I also consider everything to be loss on account of the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I forfeited all things; and I consider them shit so that I may gain Christ..."
The word in Greek is skubala, and it means shit! Not just excrement, dung or poo, but carries the same vulgar overtones as...shit!
Here's the thing. Paul wanted to find a word that expressed exactly what he felt, how little regard he had for what he had given up for Jesus, and this was the only word that summed it up for him.
I rememeber a little while ago hearing someone speak about the traumatic time she went through with a friend who was suffering with cancer. After months of treatment, pain and insecurity about the future (including a trip to Mexico for some alternative therapy), the cancer suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared.
This speaker said that the phrase to best sum up her feelings in that moment was "halle-fucking-luia".
Maybe there is a place for swearing. Maybe - sometimes - the only way to articulate and express the deepest emotions is by using a word that ordinarily would be considered vulgar and inappropriate. Maybe our evangelical prudishness has made us blind to the legitimate spirituality of swearing.