I am a Christian, and sometimes I swear.
I was in the car with Priss listening to Rootless Tree by Damien Rice the other day, and I warned her that it had some 'rude words' in it. Sure enough, Damien got very upset, and in the chorus screamed a broken; "F**k you! F**k you! F**k you, and all we've been through!" She asked me whether I thought that he would sing different words if he became a Christian. I think it would be a real shame if he did.
I am a person that loves language. I love words and I love people that really know how to use them. I love the precision of it - that there is usually a perfect word to express that exact thing that you want to say, and I love the giving and recieving of that precision when we communicate. Sometimes I think that exact word has to be a swear word.
Imagine if Damien sang; "Go away! Go away! Go away!" or similar. There just isn't another word or phrase that communicates the pain and rage that he feels towards this ill-loved woman, than the one he has chosen. Trying to put a more socially acceptable word in there is an attempt to sanitize language, but language is not supposed to be hygienic. It describes the world we live in and the world we live in is not pure and lovely. We need words to express that, or it's like pretending that we live in a Walt Disney Mary Poppins bubble.
The world is not 'messed up'. The world is f**ked up. A messed up world is one where some people get sad sometimes - the kind of thing we tell little children when we try to guard them from the truth. The reality is that we live in a fallen world which is ravaged by sin; every concievable thing is spoiled by it and not as it should be. Every single person is fighting a losing battle against themselves from which they are helpless without a saviour. The language we need to describe that is strong and offensive because that is the nature of the thing it describes. We need the visceral percussiveness of that word to say things which make us rage.
Of course there are contexts where this is not true. Of course that word can describe sexual violence, or can be used as a weapon against someone. What makes language wonderful is also what makes it dangerous; it is powerful. We can choose to use words rightly or wrongly, for good or for evil. There's a reason why I've used *s instead of letters, and that's because I want to be sensitive to people that don't agree with me. I'm aware of verses like Colossians 3:8 (But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips) and Ephesians 4:29 (Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs) but surely this is about the context and the intent with which we use words. I don't think it means we speak in a watery way that doesn't express reality. I hope it doesn't mean that Christians don't have access to that precision of communication that others have.
Please don't hear me as saying that I think sermons should be peppered with swear words, or that Christians should regularly be effing all over the place. I know that there is a great inelegance in that, and a high potential for offending someone. I know there are few occasions when a swear word is the right word. All I'm saying is that we should not be afraid of certain words. They don't bite. They are just serving their function.
Anyone that doesn't agree with me can just....go away.