Recently someone posted the following article in a Facebook group I’m a part of. The article is titled “10 Sins Christians Downplay.” (Since accessing the article the first time, I’m now having trouble seeing the whole thing)
I went in assuming a few things about the article given the nature of the Facebook group. I was way off on what those 10 sins were that the author was concerned with. One of the biggest sins that the author was concerned with was vulgar language.
And here I thought Puritanism died out a couple of centuries ago.
Also, vulgar language isn’t unbiblical, as the Rev. Bosco Peters, an Anglican priest in New Zealand points out in his post titled “Saint Paul says shit.”
Rev. Bosco specifically point to Philippians 3:8, which most English translators mess up by using softer, kinder language.
“Not the nice excrement, dung, or poop. In Saint Paul’s day σκύβαλα/shit was used in polite conversation about as much as we use it now. He is being very vulgar.”
Apparently Paul didn’t read the 10 sins article.
The rest of the article was just as terrible – concerned with things that are about sin management (as some commentators on the Facebook page said).
These are first world problems. If things like vulgar language is your biggest concern about Christians, I have to point out a few things. No where on the list of 10 sins that Christians down play did I see any concern at all for how segments of Christianity ignore injustice. No where on the list was there any talk about the love of money or consumerism. I didn’t see anything about Christian Nationalism. Nothing about the sin of putting one’s identity in a political party or attached to a political figure. Nothing about stewardship of creation. Nothing about care for the poor or the outcast. Nothing about advocating peace over violence.
These seem far more important and impactful than whether someone uses vulgar language.
Fr. Richard Rohr puts out a daily reflection that is very insightful. Today’s reflection was very powerful. If you want to be concerned about a sin that Christians downplay – you might want to check out what he wrote for today:
“In the early Christian Scriptures, the message of Jesus seems to have been heard in great part by people on the bottom. We see clearly in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels that people who are poor, in need of healing, or viewed as sinners tend to get the point. Those who are outside or at the edges of the system understand Jesus, while those who are inside or at the center are the ones who crucify him.
“We can date the turning point to the year 313 CE, when the Emperor Constantine established Christianity throughout the Holy Roman Empire. The Church thought that linking up with power was a good way to spread the gospel message. In truth, it became embarrassed by Jesus, the powerless one. Most churches do the same, in their own way. We feel more comfortable with power than we do with powerlessness. Who wants to be like Jesus? Who wants to be powerless? It just doesn’t look like a way of influence, access, or one that is going to make any difference.
“After 313, Scripture interpretations do a 180-degree turn. Take the issue of war: a hundred years before 313, it was unthinkable that a Christian would fight in the army. Jesus’ teaching on nonviolence is self-evident. As Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948) observed, “I am convinced that [Christianity] has distorted the message of Jesus…. When it had the backing of a Roman emperor it became an imperialist faith as it remains to this day.” Jesus taught nonviolence, lived nonviolently, and died nonviolently, but this goes right over our heads! We can’t see it because we’ve spent seventeen hundred years interpreting Scripture from the top. Reading Scripture from the bottom is the key to what liberation theology calls the preferential option for the poor. I just call it the bias from the bottom. Apart from conversion and until the ego is transformed, everybody wants to be at the top. Apart from grace, we don’t see anything valuable on the bottom.
“By the year 400 CE, the entire Roman army is Christian and we are killing the “pagans.” After the Empire becomes Christian, there is a whole section of the Bible that we are structurally unable to read. We can’t read anything about nonviolence, powerlessness, or not being “winners.” We can’t see what we can’t see. We can’t hear what we are not ready to hear. And if we are on the top, any critique of the top is un-hearable. This is where action and contemplation are linked together. In the contemplative journey, unless we see this necessary humiliation of the ego and defeat of the false self, we don’t undergo basic transformation.”