Yesterday, Wayne Grudem wrote a warm, articulate and balanced e-mail to John Piper on the use of offensive language. Grudem is responding to Piper’s explanation on why he used a vulgar word in a breakout session at the Passion 2007 Conference. Later reflecting on his choice of words, Piper noted:
“I regret saying it. I am sitting here trying to figure out why I say things like that every now and then. I think it is a mixture of (sinful) audience titillation and (holy) scorn against my own flesh and against the devil, along with the desire to make the battle with Satan and my flesh feel gutsy and real and not middle-class pious.”
Grudem’s correspondence makes a helpful connection between physical and verbal cleanliness:
“Using the words commonly thought to be offensive in the culture seems to me to be sort of the verbal equivalent of not wearing deodorant and having body odor, or of going around with spilled food on our shirts all the time. Someone might argue that not wearing deodorant or wearing dirty clothes are not morally wrong things in themselves, but my response is that they do give needless offense and cause others to think of us as somewhat impure or unclean. So, I think, does using words commonly thought to be “obscene” or “offensive” or “vulgar” in the culture generally. Plus it encourages others to act in the same way. So in that way it brings reproach on the church and the gospel.”
Grudem’s entire e-mail has been posted by Desiring God with his permission. It is the best statement on offensive language that I have ever read. I join Tim Challies in expressing my gratitude for these two brothers.