Contend Earnestly: Derek Webb Uses "Vulgarity" With His Eyes Closed

Monday, October 19, 2009

Derek Webb Uses "Vulgarity" With His Eyes Closed

My buddy David, over at Calvin and Calvinism, pointed out this video by Derek Webb. The song is on worrying more about language and such, than the "stuff" that matters more. Now, as I am definitely not a language Puritan, not sure that this is the right venue, meaning a public one, to show off his language skills. I am sure that Derek and I would get along great over a beer and shooting the ...uhhh... stuff about culture and Christ and the contextualization of the gospel. But, just not sure if cussing in public is the right thing for us to promote.

I say this and I am still going to put up the video and the lyrics. As usual, let the comments fly, and to all you anonymous commentors that I know will comment (maybe not now)...chicken. So, enjoy, but know that there are a couple of words that could be offensive to the viewing public even though they are used in the right context. The song is called "What Matters More" off of his album "Stockholm Syndrome".

Click "read more" to view the lyrics.

You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings

'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a shit
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?


Jonspach said...

So I think Webb is being reckless with the words he sings in this case.

You strip everything away, and he doesn't show anything... just sort of begs a question. That's lame.

As far as the swearing; It comes across as forced from my perspective, just like any other time I hear Christians making a point to swear in a public situation where they know they'll be noticed.

"Hey kids! I'm "hip". I'm "with it". So let's sit down and "rap" about our lives, eh?"

Seth McBee said...

Yeah...I get that. I actually like the production of the song itself.

Unknown said...

The first thing that comes to my mind is that he looks like a bobblehead in the video (Derek 'Bobblehead' Webb).

I have more to say, but I am going to hold my tongue...except to say that it really is not that good of a song. The artistry is lacking. Anybody can put a track like that together.

btw- I have most of his cd's.

Kaleidoscope Truths said...

About the language:

It's not a thing that he uses to look "cool" or that he is doing just because it will be heard publicly, but it is an expletive used to make a strong point. Seriously...who cares? I wouldn't be worried so much about the public caring about swearing as the do about us drinking...even tho there is nothing wrong with it. Get a clue.

Kristellys said...

do we really care more about a person saying "shit" than thousands of people dying a day from preventable issues? is this what is worth debating over?

derek made a point. only people concerned more with "individual morality" care about this issue than the actual moral issue of us sitting idly while so much crap is going on. :)


Seth McBee said...


I am not going to debate over the subject, as I have already written much on this subject. You can read those here.

But, know that just because people are dying and some decide to speak and tackle issues in orthodoxy and orthopraxy, doesn't make those debaters sinful or uncaring.

Know that some of us like to help those that are dying physically as well as those who are dead spiritually.

Thanks for the stopping by.

Ryan said...

It blows my mind that people get bent out of shape over a word like "shit". Are we still ten years old? Debating about Webb's usage of the word from an artistic standpoint is one thing, but the fact that it is so controversial is ridiculous.

Unknown said...

I understand that those words can be offensive, but at the same time, I think he makes a good point with his usage. I don't think that he's just inserting these words to seem younger or more relevant, but I think that there's a reason that he decided to use those words. I know a lot of people who would call themselves Christ-followers, yet aren't open at all to relating to gay people, and don't even give them a chance to show that they are real people. Obviously Derek is upset about this, and I also think that 'damn' in this context has a double-meaning.

Robert said...

The Greek word (skadron) is stronger than dung, by the way. It was considered a profanity, and was certainly used to gain attention.

Seth McBee said...

Thanks to everyone who commented, and I would also say that if you want to read more of my actual insight to language read here:


I agree more than you might think in regards to Webb, but am worried about implications of using words, for the sake of words...when speaking in a public forum.

And this doesn't mean that I didn't get or understand his message. Nor does this mean I don't care for people that are sick and dying.

ricshewell said...

I just saw Derek last night, and the "shit" word was so natural and seamless in public. It fit perfectly in the song. He didn't bring it up as if it was something unusual or out of place, and I don't think it is.

Also, the song isn't about vulgarity, the song is about hating homosexuals, and how people give all there attention and time to addressing homosexuals, meanwhile, not giving a shit about starvation, and social injustices around the world.

The point isn't the cuss word at all.

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