Pastor Tim Ross of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Okla., recently came under fire for using profanity on his new podcast. After initially defending his strong language, Ross now says he will no longer use it on public platforms.
In a video posted online, Ross said he received pushback from the church community and his pastor friends for cussing on an episode of his podcast, “The Basement with Tim Ross.” The episode featured therapist Jenna Mountain and addressed why women “don’t like the sex they’re being offered.” It also touched on slavery and domestic abuse, which Ross said prompted him to use profanity, including the f-word.
Ross said he’s now decided not to swear publicly again for the sake of other Christians and churches where he guest preaches.
But Ross clarified that he’s not apologizing or repenting for cursing because he doesn’t feel it’s a sin. He also has not removed the offending podcast, but simply added a disclaimer.
“This episode contains uses of some very strong language,” the disclaimer reads. “If you happen to be offended by the use of these words you may want to skip this episode.”
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Ross defends swearing, then changes position
In the video posted online, Ross said he felt comfortable using strong language in his episode with Mountain because it relates to the audience Mountain wanted to reach.
Ross, who resigned last year as pastor of Embassy City Church in Irving, Texas, said his new audience played a role, as well.
Later in the video, Ross described his podcast audience as a “cross-pollination” between those who knew him as a preacher for 27 years—and his new listeners, comprised mainly of nonbelievers and new Christians.
This new audience “can handle what comes out of my mouth,” Ross said. But he said “it has been very, very difficult” for those who know him primarily as a preacher “to receive things that I say when I choose to use that type of language.”
Ross said many people sent him Ephesians 4:29 to chastise him for his cussing. The verse states: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Ross told his listeners the verse is not about cussing, but said Paul was describing gossiping, lying, backbiting, and sowing discord among brethren, “which is worse than all the cussing.” Ross defended cussing when the circumstances fit the strong language.
“I use strong language when I have strong emotions about a subject I am talking about because all language is used to express feelings,” he said. “I believe that the strongest language should be reserved for the strongest feelings.”
However, after a recent conversation with a pastor friend, Ross said he changed his mind and stopped using cuss words on public platforms. Ross said the friend, who’s familiar with the context of the verse, challenged him with the second sentence about “building others up according to their needs.”
Ross added that he also made the decision out of deference to churches where he guest preaches. He said he doesn’t want those churches to have to defend his cussing.
But Ross clarified that he has never felt convicted by the Holy Spirit for using profanity in public, nor is he apologizing or repenting for doing so. He said he does not believe swearing is a sin, though he respects those who do.
One of those who publicly challenged Ross’s cursing is Christian hip-hop rapper Datin.
In a video posted online, Datin said, “Words he used on the podcast—the f-bombs, the ‘bull-ish’ and all that—they’re considered unwholesome and corrupt speech,” Datin said in the video.
However, according to The Christian Post, Ross’s pastor at Transformation Church, Mike Todd, who has guest appeared on The Basement, defended Ross, saying that he is fairly new to podcasting.
Recently, both Todd and Ross faced criticism for welcoming disgraced former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz to church staff.
Ross insisted he’s not selling out or succumbing to pressure. Instead, he said about swearing on his podcast: “It’s just not worth it. I love my church, my friends, and the body of Christ.”
Ross also asked his listeners to be patient with him. “I’m trying to figure out how to preach to the church and the world at the same time,” he said.