Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Profanity vs. Slang


I grew up in a family of ten, so punishment had to come swift for dissenters like myself. The nature of most large families is this: the younger the children the stricter the rules. In my conservative Christian family the rules were especially strict, and when I was young I would get a spanking for even minor offenses like saying the words "shut-up" to my siblings. "Shut-up"(basically slang for "be quiet") was seen as harsh, profane and unruly, and was usually shouted out of desperation in situations where "be quiet" fell on deaf ears. Nevertheless, we were usually spanked if not sent to our rooms for such outbursts of emotional discontent. To my parents credit we were also spanked for saying things like "damn you," which I would usually scream at my older brother after a few hours of torture, at which point he would gleefully tattle-tale, laughing as my punishment ensued. He was a bit of a sadist. The phrase "damn you" is not only a curse word, it's actually a curse. The curser is in a sense condemning the cursed to hell. My six year old mind had no idea of the blasphemy I was speaking, but I knew it sounded bad and it seemed to express the fullness of my rage. When our family got older, "shut-up" became a widely used, legitimate reaction towards someone who was purposely being loud or abrasive with the intent of victimizing those in ear-shot. "Damn you," never caught on as an accepted form of expression.

My point is, "shut-up" was slang for something else, something widely accepted, and slang can be adopted (depending on the culture of your community) to express a more intense level of the original words meaning, but "damn you" is just plain profanity, willfully directed at someone with the intent of condemning their eternal soul to hell.

The older I became, the more I travelled, the more people I met, the more cultures I experienced, the more I came to accept certain slang expressions that as a child I would have been spanked for. While in certain company I'd hear these forbidden utterances used for wonderful descriptive purposes and feel no shame upon hearing them. The culture saw them only as expressions to articulate the point. The company, in a sense, can tend to dictate the vocabulary.

I'm not saying that one should not be principled. Sometimes the chameleon strategy will compromise the integrity of your faith and your convictions. Anything that will jeopardize the integrity of your word is not a good thing. For those who have convictions which inspire separate, monk-like vocabularies, I applaud you. I respect conviction. It falls on different people in different ways at different times, and it is key to not disregard it. However, there are certain words that get lumped in with "swearing" or "profanity" that I feel can take on different meanings based on the cultural context in which they're used. These terms I define as "slang," much like "shut-up." I want to break down the difference between "shut-up" and "damn you." I want to try to understand the difference between profanity and slang.

Slang can be defined as dialect, jargon, or colloquialisms (ie "bling" is accepted slang for jewelry). No definition of slang involves blasphemy or obscenity. Profanity, however, is often defined as blasphemous, obscene, irreverent, etc. Language becomes profane when it is used with irreverence towards God, or as a weapon against our neighbor (who God calls us to love). Because of my convictions, I never want to be viewed as irreverent towards God (especially in the company of those who don't believe in God). Regardless of the company I'm in, I want to be known as somebody who takes seriously the implications of using profanity, especially for someone of my faith. For the purpose of examining this topic I will probably use some language that you (the reader) might deem profane, so you should know that I do not use this language with offensive intent, but rather for "research" purposes.

I know there are plenty of verses in the Bible about speaking kindly and non-offensively, so I hope you read this in the humblest of ways. For the sake of "research" I want to break some of these slang terms down, however, I understand there is a chance I will still offend someone. Let's say for a second you weren't worried about your kids hearing a "bad word," or you weren't afraid of your parents finding out you were reading one, or you weren't concerned with what your friends thought about your spiritual life. Let's say for a second you didn't care about all that extraneous shit. Let's just say you really wanted to develop a healthy non-religious understanding of the English language. You'll notice I just said "shit." I said it instead of "stuff." If this blog wasn't about slang, I probably wouldn't have put it there, because it didn't need to be there to articulate my point. I essentially chose to call your worries "shit" instead of "stuff." You probably felt some emotion when you read it. Maybe you interpreted it as an expression of my intense distaste for worry, or perhaps you just felt shock. I'll admit it was sort of exuberantly shocking to write it. What is "shit" anyways? A harsh word for "poop?" An abrupt term for "stuff"? The two words mean the same thing, it's just that one has a more negative, emotional connotation than the other. Veterans don't talk about being in the "stuff" in Korea, because "stuff" can also have good connotations. The Korean War was worse than "stuff." You can get a bunch of stuff for Christmas, or ship a bunch of supplies and stuff to Haiti for relief. Shit, however, is never positive (unless you're from a culture which lacks descriptive terms for good things and chooses to use "cool as shit" or "you're the shit" as positive expressions). Shit is a bad situation. It's the mess an animal makes at your expense. You never step in "stuff," stinky and oozing all over your car door and floor mats. That isn't stuff, that isn't even poop. Poop is something that babies do, or well behaved doggies on walks with their bag handling masters. Shit is the mess an animal makes, its negative through and through, and a very uniquely descriptive word in my opinion. No other word can properly explain the meaning. You can say that someone is lying, or that they are full of garbage, but nothing will interpret better your distaste for lying when you refer to their lies simply as "bullshit."

I know some of you might be flabbergasted already, and might even be more horrified to know that I'm going to bring the Bible into this topic. I've never really had a filter so here goes... Philippians 3:8 says, 


"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ"

There are a lot of places I could take that verse, but since this is a discussion about language I'll stick to the topic at hand. Paul uses the word "rubbish." Some translations use "dung." In original Greek the word used is skuvbalon. Skuvbalon is used very rarely in popular Greek text and used only in context with emotionally charged topicsusually when the author wishes to invoke revulsion in his audience. In other words, its a harsh, revolting term for animal excrement, used to disgust the reader. It's slang. Rubbish and dung are words that do not shock or disgust me, however, if the word was interpreted to "bullshit," it would probably be a more accurate translation from the Greek. It's probably closer to what Paul was so adamantly expressing. Rubbish at some point might have meant something terribly revolting in English, maybe dung too... but now they sound like something a British Lord would say after losing money on a horse race. They just can't translate fully the meaning of skuvbalon. Of course, we get the idea of the passage, and I'm not debating the accuracy of the translation... I'm merely saying the original word that Paul used had more revolting and shocking connotations than the "proper English" translation.

Of course, there are certain cultural norms that one must follow. You cannot go around offending people and expect them to respect you and listen to your convictions. You probably shouldn't try using slang with grandma, or at your church, because chances are those folks have pretty strict guidelines against the use of such words. Paul also says, 
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:3) 

So one should never try to be offensive. All I'm saying is that you shouldn't have a stroke every time you hear a slang term in a descriptive context. The motives are rarely defiant... it's usually just cultural differences.

I remember my dad used to pick up a group of kids from the projects and take them to Sunday school. Sometimes I would ride along in the front seat of our Pontiac station wagon as we went to pick these kids up. One day as we exited the station wagon at the church, one of the kids stepped in dog poop. "He stepped in crap!" another kid yelled, and they all started laughing, "Awwww gross! Crap man! It's crap!" I was horrified. "Crap" was a word you could get the belt for in my house. I remember watching my dad, expecting him to get really angry with these kids. He did nothing, in fact, he laughed a little and told the kid to wipe it off before he went inside.

Culturally we used different language, and my dad understood that. He wasn't shocked by it, although if it came out of my mouth it'd be more than a "talking-to" I'd get. We were expected to speak differently in our family and church. Our cultural standard for slang was different, but it didn't make theirs wrong.

So there you have it, my two cents on the functionality of slang, when used in proper context and company I have no problem with it. Now let me tell you how this applies to my current life.

The Classic Crime is a band that tries to play for everyone. We pride ourselves in having a diverse audience of people from all walks of life. Music is a universal language after all, and we never want to form some exclusive, singular sub-culture with our fan-base. We try to attract all cultures. However, sometimes those different cultures clash. Some fans, when commenting on our Facebook or Myspace pages, will say "You guys are fucking awesome!" Sometimes other, more conservative fans will chastise them for their use of "loose language." I feel like the more conservative fans can tend miss the point. The point is that this person thinks we're great. They think we're so great, they're using an extreme word to express it. Perhaps they do not share the same faith, convictions, or doctrine, and perhaps the term "fucking awesome" is used quite frequently in their homes as an expression that is used to refer to something as "extremely good." We don't know, but what we do know is that they aren't saying, "You guys fucking suck!" Which can then be interpreted as profanity because the language is being used as a weapon, or an extreme expression of hatred against us. This, in no culture, can be justified as a useful thing (even though we try to accept those profane criticisms with love as well).

I always read the comments like, "You guys are fucking awesome!" with a clean conscience. Not only that, but I love that those types of people are listening to our music. The words that hurt me are the words that ignorantly and profanely involve God in some way. No matter where I am or who I'm with those words are like nails on a chalkboard. The people who say them never bother me, really, because usually they're folks who have no idea what they are talking about, but their words can tend to make me wince. I believe that God loves us incredibly, so it hurts when someone He loves chooses to use His name as a description for something negative or an attack on their neighbor. This is where words can clash with my convictions. Slang rarely convicts me (and only when used out of context), but profanity always feels icky, in any context. To me, anyways.

Congratulations for making it this far. I hope this post was informative for you, or at least a peek into my "worldly" perspective. The circles I run in aren't the most refined, but I think sometimes refinement is over-rated and holds no "big picture" value. I like to keep company with people who have honest convictions, love without excuses and say what they really feel. With that sentiment in mind, I'll finish this blog.

I love you all!

Matt






35 comments:

  1. Interesting thoughts. I've been on both sides of the fence with this subject, but found that when I would speak more freely with "profanity", it was with a false sense of freedom and desire to be accepted by those I was speaking to or trying to appeal to by the language I was or wasn't using. Recently, my heart has been turned to reflect the idea that if I have to tailor the words I'm using according to my audience, that it's probably better left unsaid in the first place. Here's a blog post I wrote about it a while back.
    http://dismantledrepair.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html

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  2. Wow, Matt. That was awesome. I feel the same way about 'profanity' as you and have tried many times to explain myself but I have yet to say it as eloquently and descriptively as you. Thanks!

    You f****** rule!

    (that was a joke, by the way...)

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  3. really enjoyed this post.

    it's something I've been struggling with for a long time, and made peace with a long time ago as well. As with all issue concerning God's Will VS. Cultural Conventions.

    One of the things about contemporary Christianity that bothers me the most is the inability and sometimes intentional blurring between God's will and socially accepted behavior.

    And profanity for me, is at the forefront of that issue.

    It's kind of the same approach certain Christians have towards bands such as The Chariot, Norma Jean, Oh Sleeper, As I Lay Dying, etc.

    I've honestly come across quite a few people in my live who stubbornly argue that it's a sin to listen to heavy music.

    Ah man. I can go on forever the issue of cultural constructs, but for today i'll just leave it at that. maybe some other time :)

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  4. this is something i think about alot. i really appreciated your post. thanks. mind if i share it on my fb page?

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  5. Hudson, profanity is bad! Katie, I laughed! The Spark, share away!

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  6. Great post, Something I've thought about a lot lately. I really appreciate your viewpoint on this

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  7. I had a friend just recently write a blog about the same topic :)

    I really am glad that you mentioned this about TCC: "(We) pride ourselves in having a diverse audience of people from all walks of life."
    And then remarking on the comments that listeners with much more loosened vocabulary often leave.

    I, being born & raised Christian (and having the same punishment for curse words such as 'crap' or 'shut up'), do sometimes get bothered by comments containing a little more vulgar language. Yes, I curse here & there, but I still think there is a time it is acceptable and a time it shouldn't. There are so many more ways of expressing gratitude or excitement, using the word "fucking" before any positive adjective would seem odd. (Considering 'fucking' is just another name for 'having sex', yes?)

    I don't look down upon people with this choice of language, since I do use choice words occasionally. And, I hear it everyday at school, around friends, at shows, etc etc. I'm used to it. But, I do think that there is a fine line between using curse words to express the greatness (of The Classic Crime, for example) and using curse words when something bad happens.

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  8. You are having sex awesome. I actually prefer that version although it doesn't fit my life :) great points. It's been a good convo as always.

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  9. I totally agree with you on this post. Just recently I've made the change from saying "OhmyGod" to "Ohmygosh". It's made a huge difference in how conscious I've become of my own language, what it means to me when I say things like "OhmyGod", because that's taking the Lord's name in vain, isn't it? (at least, that's what my Sunday School teacher said).
    On another note, I cannot tell you how excited I am that you guys are touring again! I saw you at Chain Reaction last year and it was probably one of the best concerts I've been to (the small and personal venues are always the best). You guys are f****** awesome! Is there anything that you guys need on the road? Socks? Cookies/brownies? Trail mix? Gift cards? Let me know! I want to give you guys something for all your hard work : )

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  10. It seems like few people I'm around tend to understand this. Thank you so much for this post. I love you Matt MacDonald.

    ~MariƩ

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  11. I can see what you are talking about even though I really don't agree with it. To me, living as a Christian is all about loving one another and saving souls of course. I don't condemn those that use harsh language as it's not my place, but I never use it myself. Why? Because it ruins your witness to be like Christ.

    Like it or not, those words have a negative connotation about them in our society whether or not you are using them negatively. If you are trying to witness to someone and tell them of God's love and they hear you swearing outside of that conversation (even if it's not in a negative, discriminating way) already in their mind they don't think you are different from anyone else or have anything different that they need to have. That's a ruined witness right there and for what? So you can fit in with culture and the society? I'd rather try my best to be different in those areas and a light to the world (albeit not an offensive, judgemental one). God tells us to be in the world but not of the world. To me, swearing is a small, easy thing to prevent in order to stay apart from the world and be a witness. If you can't stop it then you aren't trying hard enough.

    Even before I found God I always felt swearing was a stupid concept anyhow. In most every case I hear it used, it's because the person doesn't have a strong enough vocabulary to find a better word to describe their feelings or emotions in a positive way. That's all on the individual though and I believe God will convict (never condemn) a person in that area if they need a change.

    Thanks for the blog though, interesting thoughts.

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  12. Three (btw I like your name), I do agree that changing your language because of the company can make your witness look hypocritical. There is something to say about respecting cultures, if you can do so without jeopardizing your faith, as Paul and Peter both found. I think language is language, and swearing has very diverse definitions depending on your culture. I was merely trying to define profanity vs. slang, their meanings and connotations. Totally support your convictions, God definitely puts different things on our hearts based on our own situations.

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  13. Wow. I really liked this a lot. Thanks for writing about this.

    You guys are fucking awesome!

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  14. Matt - I've never heard of you until now so I don't know wether your band's F****** awesome or not. I may check into that.

    I like your thoughts on profanity and I agree with you mostly. On top of the things you mentioned, particularly insightful the "rubbish" part, I can't stand the hypocrisy of Christians who cuss like a drunken sailor at work and then act indignant when an olympic snowboarder drops an F Bomb at the top of a ski slope.

    It's the inconcsistancies that really hurt our witness.

    Rock on.

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  15. I'm not sure if I read your post right (I kind of skimmed), but if I did, bravo. I totally agree with you.

    I don't find Derek Webb's use of "shit" offensive, because I feel like it's justified in its call to action.

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  16. @ Victoria: if saying "Oh My God" was taking the Lord's name in vain, that'd be a silly commandment, wouldn't you think? Why would those words be on the same level as, let's say, murder? If you really think about it (and you'll find several scholars agree), it's referring to saying you're a Christian and living a completely hypocritical life. Obviously, we all sin and will never be perfect, but there's a difference between being a Christian and loving the Lord/serving Him and the body and then being a "Christian" who is only motivated by public appearance and status. Not trying to be condescending here, but as soon as you said "at least, that's what my Sunday School teacher said," it made sense. Sunday also say the "Magi" visited Jesus when He was a tiny baby, but that doesn't make sense, considering when they saw the star, that'd imply He was born already and they didn't have Mustangs back then, so travel took a long time. Obviously, He wasn't a teenager, but the point remains there's a lack of really reading into the Word when it comes to what we're taught. That's why we have the Bible ourselves and are called to read into it on our own time with prayer and fasting. Look into Acts 17:11. Shows we're called to study what we're taught rather than be blind sheep.

    THAT BEING SAID.

    I appreciate this blog. I don't agree with profane language by any means, but it doesn't mean I'm perfect at it, nor will I ever condemn anyone else for swearing up a few cusses here and there. Obviously, there's a lot of controversy/arguments when it comes to what's right, what's wrong but I think the best answer is this:

    Live a life led by the spirit. Paul did that and he was still able to bring his point across without being profane. It was shocking, yes, but not blasphemous. If we're allowing the Lord to work in our lives with no attempt from us to drive, then the fruit we bear will be good fruit. It's been promised that.

    http://www.jeffwofford.com/2006/11/wading-in-skubala.html

    That's a good article to read about this, as well, and the author brings up a good point: why is the Bible more offensive than we are? Why are we forgetting Christ didn't die on the cross to put us in some mega-church that has a Starbucks, but to live a radical, even offensive life serving Him? Christianity is one of the most, if not, offensive beliefs in the world, but only because it tells people they are morally/ethically depraved without the grace and love of Jesus Christ. But it's the most hopeful religion in the world because it also promises the blood of our Lord and Savior to cover us and make us whole despite those depravities.

    To everyone who reads this: pray about everything you see and read. Don't accept anything you read as truth without truly seeking God in it, even when it comes to reading the Word. I'm not saying God is a liar, but we can't rely on our own understanding; we truly can't. That's why God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit and prayer! Utilize it and let the Lord transform you.

    I love you all. Matt, keep up the good work, and God bless.

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  17. I apologize for any grammar and spelling issues. I'm running on little to no sleep whatsoever, but I hope my point comes across clearly.

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  18. I clicked on this not knowing what to expect. You've helped me understand that I use profanity without realizing it which shows ignorance on my part.
    Thank you for sharing your heart on this topic and I can't wait until the new album comes out. If it's as good as the Silver Cord, I'll have spent my money wisely.

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  19. Just to let you know, in the North-Eastern side of Italy blasphemies are used as common slang and everybody uses them. It's a kinda hellish situation just to hear the vocals speaking (above all males) but they look like they do not give intentions to those bad words against God. I'm not kidding, it's just their way to speak.

    Also, I hate it. In Rome there's no such a way to be "innocently" profane unless you really mean to (and is really the word innocent fitting in this contest?).

    Keep posting Matt, love your blog.

    Your fan, Vinx from Vanilla Sky

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  20. Matt,

    I completely agree with everything you said, and I'm a big fan of your blog. However, I was looking at some of the the lyrics for your upcoming album, Vagabonds, and I noticed in the chorus of the happy nihilist you say, "It hurts like hell to trust nobody else". I completely agree with this song, and the last thing I came on here to do was to criticize you. what you say is your business, not mine. However, after reading this post, it just seems a little hypocritical. Again, I don't have a problem with the aforementioned reference, it just seems kinda weird after reading this post. I'm not accusing you, and I realize that saying "Hell" is an ironic play on words for a nihilist, (Kinda like "Thoughts of a dying atheist" by Muse). But if "Profanity feels icky" to you, (as it personally does to me) how does that tie on with this song? I'm not angry, just curious.

    P.S.really excited about your new album!

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  21. Hey Thomas, I'm happy to answer your question. First off, let me tell you that I am a hypocrite. This is because a lot of the things I believe in I don't necessarily practice. I'm no finished work, but I'm working on it. However, I don't think using the word "hell" in the song is hypocritical. "Hell" is not "God," Its a negative place used for negative connotations from the perspective of somebody who does not believe in the afterlife.
    The Happy Nihilist is a song written from the perspective nihilist, who happens to be struggling with the fact that his beliefs don't fulfill him, and that it "hurts like hell to trust nobody else but me."

    Even if I believed that using the word "Hell" as a negative term was a profane thing, I would still have used it... not because it's describing how I feel, but because it's describing how someone else with a different set of beliefs feels. Plus, it rhymes.

    In this case I used "hurts like hell" as slang for "hurts like something terrible," Because its more succinct, it rhymes, and it better translates the voice of the character."

    In short, it's slang. Sorry if it bummed you out. If I censored my art for people who might get offended it would severely limit my creativity and jeopardize my integrity. I just refuse to censor inspiration as it comes unless it disagrees with my core beliefs. In this case, it doesn't.

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  22. Awesome thanks man. Believe me though, you aren't bumming me out at all, I was just curious. I have to say that the wordplay there is really great, because obviously a nihilist wouldn't believe in hell in the first place. I'm not one of those people that won't listen to a band if they say "hell" I honestly don't care at all. And the last thing I want you to do is to censor yourself. One of the things that i've always loved about your music is that you're always incredibly honest, no matter what, and I'm loving how that honesty is translated on your new album. So let me just say that I'm really excited for vagabonds, and I hope it does really well.

    P.S. I don't think you're a hypocrite

    -Thomas

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  23. Thanks for writing this. I really enjoyed and agreed with your view. I actually studied the same piece of scripture at my bible school where my professor had the same exact point to say:) haha. hey let's play shows together man! I'm in a Tacoma band called Lybecker

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  24. Hey Matt, awesome post.

    I mostly agree with what you said, but I there also needs to be something said for language meant for emphasis that doesn't really mean anything negative towards a person either.

    To be honest, I didn't even notice when you wrote "shit" there until you mentioned it, and this has kind of been how my own views have changed in the last year or so.

    My parent's have raised me in a similar way to what you described, but not nearly as intensely, I did have a lot of friends that grew up learning that even the slightests of curses were wrong to use, and for a time I was taught the same way, but as I grew older my parents allowed the usage of swears as long as they were done meaningfully and in context.

    I think part of the reason they allowed it, and why I sort of have shifted to being a little more liberal on this stance is that when the words are treated as these forbidden things they get a negative rep whenever someone uses them just as a word to describe emphasis, much like the fans of yours that say that "You're fucking awesome". I tried avoiding swears for a while, but it got to the point where it actually impaired my ability to speak with others, because I was constantly having to avoid "bad words", and so my ability to communicate effectively in culture was hindered.

    TL;DR you guys are fucking awesome and this post is part of the reason why I hope you are always able to get your band's message out there.

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  25. I get the point having lived on both sides of the debate, but somehow the sound of those words coming from a two, a twelve year old or even a 100 year still make me cringe. But I guess, this all goes along with the blog on drinking with the bands before or after the shows. I don't think you can legitimitly say all slang is not profane. Jesus spent all his time with diverse groups of people, somehow I don't picture him using those words to fit in, but like your father I don't think he would have corrected them either. I think he would have responded in His loving way with out the slang. So does this mean the songs on the new album may contain "slang", are you like Derek Webb bringing "slang" into your music! What will that say about your integrity?

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  26. There is slang on every record I've done. Colloquialisms are throughout our music and by no means is rock music proper and formal, but perhaps that's why it can be so relatable, deep and human. To me, censoring my music (especially to cater to the rules of conservative religion) would kill any integrity I had as an artist. Just my opinion, we are all free to judge how we see fit. The truth is we'll all be judged perfectly someday, so we should be careful whose integrity we call into question. :)

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  27. Thanks for that slap on the hand, spoken like a true journalist. Actually you treated the whole subject very nicely. But some how I still can't understand the reasoning behind using the "s" word or the "f" word to convey the love of Christ. Although,I can see extending grace to your over exuberant fans. So my question is "which would be nobler, to sacrifice principles for one's art or to sacrifice one's art for principles?" I personally think a true artist would be able to come up with something more creative than using the same old abusive and vulgar language (or profanity).

    But rest assured that when I catch your set at Purple Door this summer, I won't be shouting "You mother f*****s ROCK!". I'll either be in silent awe and amazement at how you've touched my very soul or I'll be walking away shaking my head and wondering why I didn't make it to the next stage! TCC! I can't wait!!!!! ;)
    B

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  28. I hope to sacrifice neither principles nor art. I think both need to live together to represent true integrity. What I've written are words I live by. I hope you yell whatever your individual culture defines as something extremely good :)

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  29. One last thought before I leave you, it’s a choice not a culture; people make their own choices, not the culture. We should not blame our faults on our culture. I try not to let culture define who I am or can be, being a child of the “50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, & now the 10s”, I've seen culture change in the blink of an eye along with slang. (Can you dig?) People can choose to do the right thing or the wrong thing, as you said in an earlier post, we mess up our own lives. We can decide to be different and follow the narrow path, the road less traveled or follow the crowd. But since you originally brought the Bible into this discussion, I’ll say these final words:

    1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

    Titus 2:7-8 “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching, show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may have nothing bad to say about us.”

    1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”- but I will not be mastered by anything”.

    P.S. I do love your music, I’ve got two of your albums and I’m working on number three! Can’t wait to see TCC live!
    Sorry for busting your chops! ;)

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  30. I think we are in violent agreement here. One of the things I mentioned was that one should never try to be offensive, especially in the company of folks who have certain specific beliefs about language. You're right, culture does change, words are accepted one year, and then they are not the next, or the other way around. There are no ten commandments about which language to use, so we're left here making our own decisions in our respective communities. The word "Fag" to you might mean something entirely different to an Australian, or "Bitch" to a dog breeder. So let's be clear that I do agree that if you are a dog breeder you shouldn't go talking about your new "bitches" to a group of feminists. It might not work out too well. But that doesn't mean you stop saying the word around your dog breeder friends, because they understand you, they see "female dog," just in one syllable.

    I love Pauls "everything is permissable" passage. If you read around it you'll notice he was being scrutinized as a Jew partaking in foreign customs that were deemed contrary to the law. He did it anyways, to reach those people, to commune with them.

    In the case of slang, there is no clear law, so I have no problem with someone speaking the accepted language of the people to show love, commune, and share the Gospel (not profanity!).

    Humans have the uncanny desire to make everyone fall in line with their specific beliefs. I grew up in a church where the women wore dresses, grew their hair long and wore hats. We looked like the American version of Corinth, every detail was straight from two thousand year old middle eastern culture. I think we may have taken the scripture out of context, but nevertheless we deemed our church correct, and all the others wrong. Stupid, really, but that's what most churches do. We get a conviction and try to make everyone follow it, instead of just following it ourselves.

    In the case of language, the fishermen and laymen who wrote much of the new testament were not extremely educated. The text was written in the common language of the day, for common folk. Speaking plainly, precisely, no flowery vocabularies. I even highlighted a passage where even Paul, a highly educated man of the law, used offensive slang to describe his point.

    It's funny, whenever I talk about language I find the only people I offend are those in the church already, specifically those part of the conservative movement in the 70's and 80's. If I offend the religious, I'm only slightly sorry. Jesus' words offended them all the time, and he did not seem to have a problem with it. I'm the result of all that conservatism, I'm the generational backlash against the people who believe the things they don't do are more important than the things they DO do. "Everything is permissable," just follow your convictions and let the spirit lead, do not enslave yourself to the letter of the law (whatever law you were taught) because it's obsolete in light of salvation.

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  31. Well, I’ve certainly enjoyed this little chat; I believe you have helped me see things in a different light. I’m married to a man who has never been able to censor profanity from his language. When I married him I was a different person, a non believer and my language was pretty much the same. But even before I came to know the Lord, I stopped using it because of my children; I have five of my own and a niece that’s lived with me since she was two. So the battle lines were drawn early on and I guess it’s made me a little narrow minded. The kids hear it from kids at school and then hear it at home, although not from me, so I guess I feel like I’m the only one who thinks it’s wrong. My parents didn’t use it and my brothers and I were not allowed to while still living at home. Since I’m the only believer in my house, I have a tendency to feel as though I am constantly at war with the outside world, it’s only through friends at church and studying The Word that I am able to hold my ground. Thank you for taking the time to clarify your thoughts; you’ve helped me put this into a new perspective!

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  32. I can't imagine how tough that must be sometimes. I definitely respect your convictions 100%. Stick by them, pray a lot, and fruit will come. May God Bless you and your family.

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  33. Matt, I do like your distinction between profanity and slang. That's helpful. I don't want to injure or soil people with my words. But there are times when a sentence requires "spice" to make it say what it needs to say. =) Keep on rockin, dude.

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  34. Matt, do you know of any other passages than the one you mentioned in Philippians that use this slang/"vulgarity"? (I assume it was the same passage you included in the original blog that you were referring to in your third reply to Catielady82.)

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  35. Hey Matt,

    I read your post, and to be honest, you really amaze me. I've been a fan of your music since your first album came out, and I cant wait til the newest one comes out.
    But your blog is really good! I went back and read each blog I think, and you continue to impress. I respect your openness about this subject. And I think you got it right on

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