If you are in any way offended by the use of that word, regardless of context, then I suggest that you stop reading right now. If, on the other hand, you are interested in what all the fuss is about, you may want to view the video in question. Here it is:
Steve Camp didn't like it. Not one bit. He writes:
- FYI: this is one of the promo videos for Piper's upcoming DG Conference "The Power of Words and the Wonder of God" at the end of September produced by his ministry. They had to put a disclaimer at the front of this video because of its bad language. But even then, Piper is Clintonian in not really owning it calling the "s" word "...potentially offensive, four letter language..." Personally... I'm staying home. I don't need to pay 175 bucks to hear these pinheads not give us the Scriptures and dance around what "wholesome speech" might mean as they wrest the Word to suit their own guttural proclivities. Besides, when you invite Tripp and Driscoll rather than MacArthur, Sproul, Mohler, Duncan, or Begg - then something is amiss; or in this case, a mess.
First of all, there were at least 20 seconds worth of disclaimers warning those who might be offended by the use of that particular four-letter word. Thus, the context in which the subsequent language was used was clearly and firmly established. This was a guy talking about a frank discussion he had with his family regarding language; it wasn't a preacher delivering a flowery sermon on Mother's Day.
Secondly, it was not used in a judgmental, blasphemous, or sexually perverse manner. It was employed to illustrate a specific point -- and judging by the vitriolic, knee-jerk responses in the comments section on Mr. Camp's blog, it succeeded.
Thirdly, Tripp said that if he was in a context where that word could not minister grace or edify, then it shouldn't be said. But, as he pointed out, that goes for everything we say. Again, reemphasizing the main point of the video.
Camp called the video "crap" (a word he later edited out of his original response) and referred to Paul Tripp, Mark Driscoll, and John Piper as "pinheads." He admitted in the comments section that he used those words "intentionally to see if anyone would take the bait and use that as a diversion to somehow justify Tripp." Well, Paul Tripp happened to use the "s" word, and Camp was all over it like a muskie on a minnow.
Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." So, if Paul Tripp can get people to consider their overblown reaction to one little word in light of what scripture says about everything we say, then mission accomplished.
Many Christians, however, cite the above verse in order to admonish other believers who use the occasional coarse word. But how is "corrupting talk" defined in this passage? The definition is obvious in that it is contrasted with talk that it is "good for building up." In other words, we should avoid talk that does not build up. Could that include calling another brother in Christ a "pinhead"?
Oh, but that isn't the same as dropping the "s" bomb. Camp says that one who uses such a word "to make a 'profound biblical point' is a lightweight and has thought culturally but not biblically." Yet in condemning Tripp, Camp himself is guilty of thinking culturally. After all, the Bible doesn't define what constitutes a swear word; culture does. In fact, our culture has assigned meanings to all sorts of words, drawing distinctions between those deemed unsavory and those considered acceptable in polite conversation.
If you go back and watch the video again, you will note that Tripp does say that the use of the "s" word is considered impolite. But, again, it is not a word that is judgmental, blasphemous, or sexual in nature.
Now, to be clear, I am not saying that this gives Christians license to use it like any other word. But I think the fact that so many commenters on Mr. Camp's blog couldn't get past that one word that they failed to grasp the actual point of the video demonstrates why such a discussion on language is needed. Intent and context are much more important than the words themselves.