Ah!! You Just Said a BAD Word!

August 6, 2010

Tony Campolo is famous – or infamous – for a statement made at a Christian college chapel service:

“The United Nations reports that over ten thousand people starve to death each day, and most of you don’t give a SH%T.  However, what is even more tragic is that most of you are more concerned about the fact that I just said “sh%t” than you are about the fact that ten thousand people are going to starve today.”

Let me ask you:

  • What was your first thought when you read that quote?  Did you visualize thousands of starving people? Or were you stunned by the use of the “bad” word?
  • Imagine if you had been in the congregation at your church and he made that statement. What would have struck you then?
  • Can think of any better way to point out that sometimes we do not have the heart and priority of Christ? 
  • Can you think of a better way to reveal our tendency toward self-righteousness and legalism?

I’ve never had the nerve to say anything like this from the pulpit. Maybe if I was a traveling speaker who didn’t have to face the same crowd again a week later I might have considered it…

One Response to “Ah!! You Just Said a BAD Word!”

  1. Katye Says:

    You’ve told me this story before, but I love this post. On one note, I personally see no inherent problem with saying “bad” words– what is wrong with a three-letter word that begins with “a” and means the exact same thing as “butt?” In my opinion, absolutely nothing– except that our society has deemed it “unacceptable” and as a result, it offends people. Avoiding offending others out of respect is probably the loving and compassionate thing to do, though I do wonder where the line lies.

    I think that our Christian culture (and even our secular, especially Southern, culture) confuse moral issues with cultural issues; hence, the view that it is “wrong” to drink alcohol, to smoke, or to get tattoos, etc…the list goes on to more blurry issues, in my opinion, including politics (intense nationalism), traditions, and even maybe (although I am still fuzzy on this one) gender issues (homosexuality). There is a human tendency to take a cultural difference, and because it under-girds our sense of the “norm,” to infuse it with sacred significance.

    Certainly, such (naturally human) preoccupations lead to virulent strains of legalism that are all the more dangerous both because they see themselves as “worthy” of defending and because they detract our attention from the real moral issues of justice and indecency that demand, as the Church, our attention.


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