Working daily in downtown Seattle, I find myself exposed to harsh language all the time, whether in business meetings or walking through a gang of kids on the sidewalk. Later, as I accelerate through rush-hour traffic, I discover that I can use these words as well, lashing out with blunt verbal instruments in the safety of my enclosed vehicle. What is the cause of my stumbling? Have I seen too many movies? Or was I wrong just to leave the house? It is very difficult to be in the world without being somewhat of the world. That is the daily wrestling match for the Christian. And we all fall short.

But cussing in the movies is a different problem. In part one of this series, professional critics and readers discussed cinematic nudity. Some avoid even being confronted with it. Others turn away. Still others don't think twice about it. Many struggle somewhere in between. Does bad language in film carry similar cautions and prohibitions?

Critics on Cussing

Steve Lansingh (The Film Forum) writes, "To demand from our movies and from our unsaved friends that they not curse is to destroy the Gospel message: We preach that Jesus can transform the soul, but we expect people to reform themselves before they even approach us. We should instead hold ourselves to Paul's exhortation to 'let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,' and by example show that we have no reason to cuss or offend; neither need we engage in hateful denouncements, idle chatter, and backstabbing gossip, which unfortunately have been blights on the church throughout history."

Rich Kennedy (Lansingh's colleague at The Film Forum) also sees many Christians walling themselves out of their mission field. "To avoid profanity and vulgarity is to almost universally cut ...

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