Is Anything Lewd (for Christians) Anymore?

Recently, the Grammys made headlines for its Satanic and overtly sexual tone.  I did not watch the show, but the photos taken from it and the couple of clips I did see were more than enough.

In all the hubbub over Katy Perry’s ritual dance and Jay-Z’s and Beyonce’s sex show, and in all of the Christian commentary, I noticed a word was missing.  In fact, I have noticed that this word is seldom used at all in such cases, like Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wickedness with Justin Timberlake, even though it seems to be the most appropriate word for it all.  In fact, I do not hear the word used even by Christian pastors to describe anything that goes on in American culture.

The word, of course, is “lewd.”  According to the online Merriam-Webster, the first definition for the word is “evil, wicked,” but that definition is now obsolete.  In fact, that definition has been obsolete at least since 1975, according to my “old” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.  That is a shame because a strong case can be made that anything we would call “lewd” would be called evil and wicked in the Bible.

The second definition is “sexually unchaste or licentious.”  Licentious means “lacking legal or moral restraints; especially: disregarding sexual restraints.”  That would fit the Grammys, and it would fit much of what is on television and in the movies these days.  I doubt that even the actors on-stage, doing the lewd things, would disagree that what they were doing was “sexually unchaste and licentious.”  The point of their music is and the point of the show was to disregard sexual restraints.

So, if we, Christians, do not use the word “lewd” to describe aspects of our culture, is that because we do not think these aspects are lewd?  Have we adopted a better word?  I am not sure just what that word would be.  Concupiscent?  Lascivious?  Lecherous?  Wanton?  Obscene?

I have become concerned that nothing is lewd for American Christians anymore.  In fact, rather than decrying the lewdness of American culture, I find it more common to hear even Baptist pastors using some lewd event, TV show, movie, or song as a sermon illustration in ways that indicate that the pastor both watched and then found nothing particularly problematic with it.

Really?  How do we lead the church to live in holiness that way?   “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

Let me say clearly, that the Grammys were lewd.  Super Bowl halftime shows are lewd.  Scantily clad women singing and dancing are lewd, any time, anywhere, to any music, with any words.  And men who sing about or act out immorality on screen or in person are lewd.  Our culture, at large, disregards moral and sexual restraints, and we live in a lewd culture.  My fear is that, opposed to Philippians 4:8, much thinking by Christians is, therefore, lewd.

Our godly forefathers and mothers would never have guessed how quickly their spiritual descendants would give in and allow the culture in which our children must live be so lewd.  Yes, just as our spiritual forbears stopped the lewdness, we are allowing it, by keeping quiet, by not calling it what it is, lewd.

But the real question is, Is anything lewd for Christians anymore?



  1. Sure. There are Christians out here that at least think it’s “lewd”. Thanks for saying what we are too hesitant to speak any more. Christianity is overwhelmed with those who would silence us to use such a word or have such an opinion. If we did, then we would have a plethora of labels thrown back at us by fellow Christians…pharisaical, unloving, divisive, weaker brethren, Galatians, not culturally relevant, extremists, turning Biblical principles into commands…

    Their intolerance of our intolerance is becoming intolerable.

    All that to say, happening upon your post was an encouragement.

    1. Yes, it is amazing that the state of Christian thinking has changed so in one generation. Isaiah 5:20 must mean something. Fear not. Thank you for your kind comments.

  2. Thank you so much for this post!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement.

  3. […] and Family Ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written an intriguing post about the use of the term “lewd.” His post asks why this word is not used and whether […]

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