smoking hot wife

“Smoking hot wife.” Is it a term of endearment a Christian man should feel free to give his wife in public? Or is it a potentially sexist label that should be carefully avoided? (And besides all that: where did it come from in the first place?)

definition of smoking hot wifeRecently the Her.meneutics blog (which focuses on women’s issues in the Christian church) at the Christianity Today website ran a story called “I’m Sick of Hearing About Your Smoking Hot Wife” by Mary DeMuth. Then a few days later another Christian blogger, Zach Hoag, published “Smokin’ Hot Wives & Water to the Soul” on his own blog. (A quick google search showed me an older article here that also had interesting things to say about the use of this term.) Clearly there is ongoing interest in the question of whether the Christianese term smokin’ hot wife is an innocent term of endearment or whether it is chauvinism at its most subtle. Naturally, as with most debates about language, there aren’t any black-and-white answers—just a lot of strongly held and earnest opinions and points of view. When it comes right down to it, people in this country are allowed to say what they want (short of yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater) and others are free to keep listening or to walk away. But since Christians are usually in the business of drawing people closer and not driving them away, it makes the “free speech” issue a bit more complicated. It reminds me of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.” So yeah, we’re free to say whatever we want, but we ought to speak with wisdom and charity.

My own personal opinion is that if a husband wants to call his wife “smokin’ hot,” and if the wife likes to be called “smokin’ hot,” then honestly what can any of us third-parties do or say about it? Heaven knows that some of the affectionate nicknames and terms of endearment that couples have for each other are enough to make their friends (or kids!) roll their eyes and plug their ears. What floats some other couple’s boat might not necessarily float ours, and vice versa and all that jazz.

But let’s move along to firmer ground, shall we? We might not all agree on whether the term is kosher to use in public or not, but it should be an agreeable matter of research to find out the meaning and origin of the term. Thankfully when it comes to linguistics and lexicography, we can usually come to objective answers if we dig deep enough. The expression “smoking hot wife”—or, as people in the more southerly Bible Belt area pronounce it, “smokin’ hot wife” with the “g” conspicuously dropped—seems to be typically used in cases where a Christian man, often a church leader such as a pastor, is giving a sermon or leading a prayer and wants to mention his wife with particular, even grandiose, affection. The term “smoking hot wife” essentially suggests that the husband is still madly in love with his wife and still finds her, for lack of a better word, “sexy.” Yes, folks, married Christians sometimes refer to their spouses as “sexy.” I know, I know… it goes against every stereotype you’ve ever heard about how boring the Christian love-life is. And yet, apparently there are some coals yet burning below the ashes of Christian matrimony. (Thank God!)

You may be wondering, do Christian guys really say “smoking hot wife”? Well, they do. In 2011 Pastor Joe Nelms delivered the pre-race prayer at a NASCAR race. He thanked God for the cars and the tires and the racing fuel. And before Pastor Nelms finished the prayer by saying, “boogity, boogity, boogity, amen,” he also thanked God for his “smoking hot wife,” an utterance which catapulted him and his pre-race prayer to national notoriety (see the 2011 citation below for the part of the prayer where he said “smoking hot wife”).

O.K. So it’s a real term. But where did it originate? Interestingly enough, the earliest citation I can find comes from the 2006 movie Talladega Nights starring Will Ferrell. So the question has to be raised: was the term “smoking hot wife” coined by the screenwriters of the film (who were, incidentally, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay)? Or was the term already in circulation by 2006 and Ferrell and McKay simply used the term in the script because it made the Ricky Bobby character sound like a stereotypical southern evangelical? I still haven’t found a citation prior to 2006, so until more evidence comes to light, I can’t say for certain. Maybe this bit of Christianese genuinely comes from a Will Ferrell movie. Stranger things have transpired in the church.

Now you might think that because the two examples I’ve given so far have to do with stock car racing, that maybe this Christianese term is limited to Christians who are part of the sports car community. Not so. If you look at the 2008 citation in the definition below, you’ll see that an author used it in the acknowledgments section of his book, and the book (and the author) have no formal link to NASCAR. So it’s out there being used generally Christians, though two of the most famous (or notorious?) uses of the term do happen to be related to NASCAR.

So what’s your opinion? Do you think smoking hot wife is fine to use if the wife is O.K. with it? Or should the term be avoided because some people don’t like hearing it? (The verse 1 Corinthians 8:13 comes to mind.) And the most important question of all, did you hear Christians using this term prior to 2006? Or is this Christianese term have its roots in a Will Ferrell movie?


smoking-hot wife n. Sometimes pronounced smokin’ hot wife. A term of endearment for one’s own wife.
Some quotes below (see quots. 2006, 2011 (12 Feb.)) most likely were not made in a Christian context, but the quotes do provide additional evidence that the movie Talladega Nights (2006) is the original source of the expression smoking-hot wife.
2006 Ferrell, McKay Talladega Nights (release date 4 Aug.) : Dear Lord Baby Jesus, I want to thank you for this wonderful meal, my two beautiful sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, and my red-hot smokin’ wife, Carley. [2006 PC Mag. 25/23 (26 Dec.) 25 : Both sports have—with apologies to Talladega Nights—“smokin’-hot wives.”] 2008 Stone Open-Source Discipleship: Collaboration in Youth Ministry 8 : To Emmett, our child that is on the way, I cannot wait to meet you. To my smoking-hot wife Emily, your smile still lights up the room, and lifts up my soul. Thank you for supporting me, for waiting for me, for encouraging me, and for loving me. 2010 Miller Kingdom Collision: The Movement of God’s Spirit in a Time of War 7 : After a quick call to Tina, whom I affectionately refer to as my “smokin’ hot wife,” I was ready to hit the rack. [2011 New York Times (12 Feb.) : Who is America’s funniest politician? … There’s a comer on the scene: Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota. He shows promise. When, in his speeches, he paraphrases the movie “Talladega Nights” and says, “I want to thank the Lord for my smoking-hot wife,” how could you not smile?] 2011 Nelms (prayer at a NASCAR race) (23 Jul.) : Lord, I want to thank you for my smokin’ hot wife tonight, Lisa, my two children, Eli and Emma, or as we like to call them the Little Es. 2011 McWilliamson Wisdom from a Turtle: Thirty-Something Years of Seemingly Unimportant Decisions 63 : While it is okay to appreciate his sweet sports car and smoking hot wife, consider them for what they are—blessings from God. 2012 Young The Church of Pookie 45 : I checked the top of the screen to confirm it was a news channel, and it was. At this point the preacher was thanking God for his smoking hot wife, and the drivers in the race were laughing, and I realized he was joking. Had I actually seen the movie Talladega Nights I would have known sooner that it was a joke.
  • Mom&Dad


    • timoteostewart

      Thanks, mom and dad!

  • I mean, you know… If people feel that they must use it, fine, but they should understand that it makes others want to throw bricks at their heads.

  • KCSeminarian

    Use this phrase in private, Pastor, but spare us when you’re in the pulpit.
    The phrase makes this “smokin’ average woman” (who has other attributes) feel like the only thing that Christian men are being taught to value in a woman are her looks and sex appeal. It also teaches Christian women to waste their time and energies on superficially improving their looks at the expense of developing, oh, a deeper, more profound relationship with their spouse and their Creator.

    We also need to take seriously the Mary DeMuth article that speaks to how this message sounds to victims of sexual abuse. What is our purpose in the Church: are we trying to market cheap grace and salvation to the “cool crowd” or are we trying to transform the world? This is not transformative; it’s buying into worldly values. It makes me sad.

  • Pingback: smokin’ | The Vagrant Mood()

  • S.J. Heald

    As a woman, I find this term eye rolling. I think it’s awesome that the minister believes his wife is smoking hot. He should. She’s his wife! However, the rest of us don’t need to hear that. It sounds like he’s bragging, a status thing much a “trophy wife.” It causes other women to compare themselves to see just how smoking hot she is and how do the rest of us measure up… it doesn’t do that woman any favors in popularity. It implies a woman’s value is based on her looks, which the bible clearly does not teach. Would be more appropriate for a minister to draw attention to the fruit of her life. Perhaps he could call her “my loyal and loving wife” or something like that.

  • selma

    thanks for your dictionary! as a non-christian who loves to read Christian blogs, i think you forgot one: “walk with” – that is something i keep reading and it’s not something i hear elsewhere.

    • Thank you for reading, Selma! “Walk with” sounds like a good one. Thanks for the suggestion! Would you help me out—what would be a sample sentence using it? I want to get a sense of how you have heard it used. -Tim

      • You have a real gift for ferreting out all these meanings and origins. I don’t know how you do it but it’s really interesting to read. I’m learning a lot about terms I apparently didn’t understand as well as I thought I did at the time! There’s so much history and culture bound up in what you’re doing–history that might well have been lost had you not begun this project.

        I’ve seen “walk with” in the sense of someone’s “walk with Jesus,” in context of one’s “spiritual walk,” meaning one’s level of compliance maybe? I’ve also seen it “walk with faith/love/perseverance/etc” which means I think just to maintain one’s level of that attribute. On that note, it’d be quite neat to see you tackle “plant a seed.” Soooo cringeworthy, but we used it constantly when I was a Pentecostal Christian (in the 80s/90s) to mean any evangelistic act that didn’t result in an immediate conversion. It was the consolation prize ;) I looked but didn’t see this term already in your lexicon. Best wishes as you continue to study this “dialect!” — Cas

        • Cas, it’s interesting that you bring up “plant a seed,” because that it one I keep coming back to and working on, because it’s a tricky one to get right. Your mention of it is making me want to finish the research on that term and put it on the site so that people can check it out and see what they think. Keep an eye on the website, and if you see it posted, you’ll know you had a hand in spurring me to complete it.

          There’s a LOT of cringe in Christianese, probably an above-average amount compared to the “dialects” (as you put it!) of other communities and movements. In among the many cringeworthy moments, there have also been a lot of beams of light. By using historical quotations the way I do, I get to travel back in time and get up close and personal with how Christians of a generation ago or more were trying to grapple with their personal and spiritual situations. My hope is that the quotations for each term introduce you not only to the term being defined but also to the Christians of that day and age. When a person is using slang, they almost can’t help but be personal and vulnerable. What I’m trying to say is that I hope that the quotations not only give us information about the term being defined but that they also give us empathy for the Christians we’re reading about. I’ve grown a lot in my love for the Body of Christ as a result of conducting this research project.

          “Walk with” is on my to do list, and it’s a great example of Christianese. Thank you! And I appreciate the support and encouragement. Thank you for posting, Cas. —Tim

          • Thanks so much for your kind response. I’ve been reading this blog for a while now–I’ve compared it to TVTropes in a positive way, in that it’s very easy to just get lost wandering around its stacks and discover an hour or two has passed. I’m very interested in language and dialect–and in religion’s history. What you’re doing here seems like curating a grand study of one corner of American language and history, where it intersects with culture, how it shows what people were thinking and how they interacted with each other and the world at large. It’s a breathtaking undertaking, in my opinion, and a necessary one. The culture is changing fast, for good or ill, and a lot of understanding is going to be lost as its jargon changes along with it.

            An impish part of me wants to end with a SO HOW’S YOUR WALK, BROTHER? like I used to hear all the time but instead I’ll just say thanks again and it’s been lovely getting to know you a little. Best wishes – Cas

          • Ha ha! And then I would have to respond to you with SO CAS, WHAT HAS THE LORD BEEN TEACHING YOU LATELY? ;-)

          • Oh my gosh that made me laugh and took me back a few years. I WANNA HUG YOUR NECK!

            What’s awesome is that directly above your comment was a Christian abusing the heck out of me on another site. Seriously. And then I read down and there you are. Hang in there, you’re needed.

  • We are meant to be an encourager. If it makes your wife encouraged then say it. I don;t think it is meant to put another person down but to build a person up. Find something nice to say about someone and tell them.

  • GodsChick

    What other people choose to say is their business, but I personal object to my husband calling me that. I told him I like to be called Smart and that what he calls me! I feel it’s shallow and demeaning to focus so much on how someone looks. I have struggled with this all my life and I have learned that there is more to life than being really really ridiculously good looking!