Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In The News: Defending Vulgarity


Sometimes I come across an “In the News” item in the course of a week just by reading news items on the internet or in the newspaper. Other weeks I search news services, typing in keywords that might bring up interesting matches.

This week I typed in the word vulgarity, thinking I might come across an article that would allow me to teach biblical principles of modesty or seasoned speech.

Interestingly, I came across a number of different articles from India, Pakistan, and even a couple of muslim countries, condemning vulgarity. Whether it be passionate kissing or off-color humor, vulgar practices are considered to be a societal problem in those countries.

Not so in America.

Now, I know that many have been opposed to vulgar expressions and practices in past years, while still opposing censorship. However, now vulgarity is being praised as appropriate and healthy. It is a significant distinction. Note the following examples:

Liberal talk show anchor Bryant Gumbel was recorded on live TV while at CBS using a profane expletive to describe a politically conservative guest. CBS initially denied that the expletive was directed at the man, but recently Gumbel admitted what he had done. He has refused to apologize for the slip, saying his assessment was correct, and that the man’s arguments had “infuriated” him.

A newly released comedic movie called “Knocked Up”, about a woman who gets pregnant in a one night stand with an immature jerk, was praised by the film reviewer of the Daily Iowan. The critic wrote that director Judd Apatow, “has officially turned obscenity into an art form.” He called his latest effort, “the work of a comic legend in the making.”

The Edmonton Journal reviewed the latest album of the rock group Queens of the Stone Age. The album is called, “a celebration of the age of vulgarity.” The title of the album is Era Vulgaris. The leader of the singing group, Joshua Homme, is quoted as saying, “Call me crazy, but I sort of like seedy, vulgar stuff, … I’m just talking about the stuff your ma warned you about.”

Reg Henry, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, wrote an opinion piece asking the question, “Is there too much vulgarity on television?” His conclusion? “Ever my mother’s son, I think vulgarians should not be vulgar, but I also think that it is absurd to try to make America’s airwaves totally sanitized and unreflective of ordinary, everyday speech as it is spoken [even] in the White House.”

Finally, according to the Louisiana State University school newspaper, The Daily Reveille, LSU officials banned the playing of the song Tiger Rag before home football games because students used the song as a background for chanting profanities. The majority response to the ban was indignation on the part of students. One said, “Students are going to sing it either way, whether the University brings it back or not.” Another student added, “That sort of thing isn’t offensive to me and honestly is part of the pageantry of college football – 92,000 fans, mainly [the] student section, chanting the same thing, regardless of vulgarity, is a special thing that most schools share.”

Christians should not participate in or encourage such behavior. Remember the condemnation of the ungodly in Romans 1. The Holy Spirit condemned as worthy of death not only those “who practice” such ungodliness, but also condemned those who “approve of those who practice them” (cf. Romans 1:32). It is absurd to think that a follower of Christ can defend him or herself as living righteously while condoning, minimizing or supporting (through ticket buying, etc.) the vulgarity of the world. If God’s call to sanctification does not include such discretion, then what, pray tell, does it entail?