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Cussing preachers

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.  Ephesians 3:8

Last Sunday my family was treated to an episode, I don’t say “sermon,” from one of those newfangled cussing preachers.  He wasn’t dropping the f-bomb on us.  He just used a little crude language to show everybody he’s really authentic.  The new rule is that you’re not authentic unless you cuss a little bit in the pulpit.

He did mention that he’s been rebuked a few times by people who don’t approve.  In a recent trip abroad, he made a reference to an R-rated movie he’d been to see, and a man in his foreign congregation objected to it.  On another occasion where he’d used foul language in the pulpit, somebody came to him and said, “Hey, bro., we’re trying to teach our kids not to talk like that, and it really doesn’t help when they hear it in church from the preacher.”  He told the story as an illustration of how tough it is to shepherd stuffed-shirt prudes like that.

I find this all the more disheartening because this guy is one of the more gifted speakers I’ve heard.  Preachers who have great speaking abilities can do things other preachers can’t, rapidly building up large congregations with seeming effortlessness, raising money with the same ease.  Preachers like myself with thoroughly mediocre abilities are tempted to indulge a bit of jealousy now and then.  Not that it happens, I’m just sayin’…

One of the other things that happens when a man possesses enormous raw talent and employs it in the service of God is that Satan paints a big target circle on him.  Solomon said, for example, that an adulteress would hunt for the precious life.  (Pr 6:26)  Skanks and tramps often engage in take-down operations, and there’s no point in tackling somebody like themselves who is already in the ditch.  So they go for the clean, the upright, the well-connected and influential.  The goal is to make a big splash.  If you’re old enough to remember them, think Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Bob George.  More recently, think Ted Haggard.

The comparison is not intended to equate a bit of trash talk with adultery, sodomy, or drug abuse.  It’s intended to set forth my claim that gutter language coming from America’s most gifted preachers is a device of Satan intended to pollute the best men, blot and stain the best preachers, besmirch the reputations of the best exponents of the Gospel.  It is a dead fly in the precious ointment making it stink. (Eccl 10:1)  Make no mistake about it, it does stink.

It’s astounding that preachers should need anyone to explain what’s wrong with cussing or telling dirty stories from the pulpit, but that only proves that talent and wisdom are not the same thing.  The Bible says to let no unclean communication proceed out of your mouth. (Eph 4:29)  It says that “corrupt communication” is something to be put off (Col 3:6-8) along with the other sins of the “children of disobedience.”

Cussing preachers justify a bit of trash talk on the ground that this shows their authenticity, that they’re not holier-than-thou types heaping condemnation upon sinners while pretending not to be one.  The justification is a marvel of dunderheaded thinking because it misunderstands the role of the preacher and substitutes low-brow self expression for the word of Christ.  The role of the preacher is to represent Christ as an ambassador of his kingdom.  He speaks not for himself, but for the King.  The King has not sent them to cuss, so they have no right to do so while speaking in his name.  The urge to do acts of authentic self-disclosure in the pulpit is foolish.  (Pr 18:2 NKJV)  Brother Preacher, they didn’t come to church to learn about you.

In the most ideal sermon, the preacher presents nothing of himself, leaving his listeners to hear nothing but Christ, for he must increase and we must decrease.  Preaching is not just talking in front of a crowd.  It’s as much an act of representation as it is communication.  That is, the preacher stands in the stead of the bride of Christ as the spokesman for the Most High, proclaiming the glories of his master.  Whatever the preacher may be elsewhere, he must be holy here.

One Comment

  1. I could not agree more brother. I was recently at a breakfast for Christian men where the preacher said the s word while addressing the crowd.
    I was outraged, but what’s worse, is that the crowd cheered him on and clapped for him.
    It reminds me of the verse that says “in the latter times they will heap up teachers unto themselves having itching ears” and another verse days, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine”
    And yes, I agree completely that when we preach, the crowd should see and hear Christ not us.
    God bless you for this post, and keep it up!

    Posted on 19-Aug-13 at 19:13 pm | Permalink

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