Saint Paul says shit

Posted on March 28, 2018


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Interesting reactions to the use of the word “shit” in “Shit people say to ministers“. Almost as if saying “shit” is unbiblical. It’s actually quite the opposite. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (3:8) wrote

ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω…

If your Greek is a bit rusty, there’s no point in reaching for your English translation (straight from the culture that uses the euphemisms “going to the Rest Room” – I think it’s a pretty weird place to rest!, “going to the bathroom” – still looking for that bath there!…)

Here’s what Saint Paul says:

But indeed I also regard everything to be loss on account of the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things; and I consider them shit so that I may gain Christ…

Yep – σκύβαλα (skubala) = shit.

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.

One of the top scholarly lexicons of Greek words A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition translates σκύβαλα as “refuse”, “garbage”, “human excrement”, “crud”, and “crap”.

…I forfeited all things; and I consider them crap so that I may gain Christ…

If I quoted the scatological references, say, from Martin Luther, some would never return to this site again! In 1521, the Cardinal of Mainz said in Luther’s presence, “I know very well that without God’s grace there is nothing good in me, and that without God’s grace I am as much a piece of useless, stinking shit as anyone else, if not more.”

It sometimes can appear as if the church’s primary role is to make people prim and proper. That catechesis is about knowing which fork to use. That the body is a nuisance God is liberating us from. That clergy are employed to prevent swearing. That there are good words and bad words, good people and bad people. Good people go to church, and know how to behave properly in church, and dress properly, and only use proper words, and go to bathrooms and rest rooms.

How down-to-earth is your spirituality? How down-to-earth is your God? Would your God say “shit”? If not – what’s it doing in the Bible?!

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