I was wondering what your definition of the Greek word skubalon is, and how Paul is using it in Philippians 3:8? I looked it up and found two meanings: 1. excrement; s**t. 2. rubbish. The KJV translates it "dung," which would take the first meaning of the word, but the NIV translates it "rubbish," which is the second meaning. I have a friend who cusses out of anger and rationalizes it with the opinion that Paul used a curse word. What are your thoughts?

Much has been made of this passage. One of the  students at one of the seminaries I attended justified his own profanity (which was like a sewer, as I recall): "We need to talk in the language of the street, to relate to people. Besides, Paul used the 's' word [ referring to Phil 3:8]."

When I was doing my doctorate, one of my professors often used the 's' word -- with the same rationalization. He added another example of a respected figure who resorted to crude language. He referred to Martin Luther who, like Paul, was "earthy," making abundant use of both coarse language and profanity. Luther's earthiness is well known and frequently attested in his writings. But what about Paul?

Skubalon means dung or garbage -- that is true. So in a way, the passage could be understood with either definition. Yet since Paul also wrote Ephesians 4:29 and 5:3, it is not likely that the apostle would contradict himself by sanctioning profanity. Do we really think an apostle who strove with such passion to live a holy life (Phil 3:12-13) would "slip up" and include profanity in one of his public letters? (Even if Paul used a dirty word, this would be the sole instance, so

In modern English, the "s" word is profane, and should never been heard on the lips of Christians. Yet I think Christians should go further than simply avoiding the worst of the swear words. Not all coarse language is profane. Often Christians leave little to the imagination when they modify common phrases to make them less offensive. For example, take "horse manure" and "what the heck?" Click to read further on unwholesome talk.

Paul was clean. What about you and me? What do we say (or even think)? While the Lord looks at the intentions of the heart, still, as Jesus said, "I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."