I remember my first day in public middle school. My delicate virgin ears were burning by second hour, having heard words I never knew existed.
Now, it just doesn’t bother me like it used to. I don’t swear loudly in public or in front of elders or children and I don’t care for people who do. But swearing in movies or with friends just doesn’t get me all hot and bothered like it does some people.
The other day, I was reading a blog about taking God’s name in vain. The post’s point was we’ve lost what should be a huge offense it should be to misuse God’s name. It was a good post, though I wasn’t quite sure I agreed with everything, but that got me thinking about what I think about swearing in general.
We practically can’t help but cuss
Even if you’re a complete teetotaller when it comes to swear words, chances are you have a few choice exclamations you use. Guess what? If you fall down the stairs and repeatedly shout “sugar bricks!” people still know you’re swearing. When they dub over cuss words in movies, we all know what they’re saying. Any ten year old watching a TV movie knows they aren’t really saying “French toast” or “melon farmer.”
I always had a laugh as a teacher at this kid in my class who would get mad, and he’d want to swear, but he’d bleep himself. He’d literally say “bleep.” Sometimes there’d be a whole string of bleeps to let us know he was really bleeping mad. Sometimes he’d write a cuss word. One time he typed “butt” into Google.
But if you aren’t ten years old and you write swear words, but censor yourself, you’re just lame. If you want to swear, then stop using swear words like a preteen girl. It’s not like taking the v*wels out of w*rds st*ps people from kn*wing what y*u’re saying. No one reads “d*mn” and says, “Gee, I don’t know what that means, but thank you for not sullying my pristine Christian mind with your dirty words.” Same with the whole “h-dash-dash-dash” thing. You’re not fooling anyone. Even if I typed a bunch of random symbols, I’d still look like a %*#@ loudmouth. See?
But then there’s the people for whom substitute swear words are offensive. “We all know that ‘freaking’ is just another ‘F’ word, so it’s still a bad word.” Come on. If we replaced ‘freaking’ with another word, you’d still know it was a substitute for the substitute. Plus, someone who gets offended that easily risks looking like a cotton-headed ninnymuggins. Words are only obscene if we say they are. I can write the word “bloody” with no dashes and not blink, though it’s worse than the ‘F’ word to Brits.
What bugs me the most is when I’m having a perfectly good time with a new acquaintance, and then he finds out I’m a pastor, so he starts cleaning up his language, or even apologizes, like I’m going to tattle on him to God like a third grader telling the teacher.
If that’s what God meant, He wasted a commandment
Okay, about taking God’s name in vain. I still try not to do this too much, but I will admit that I have petitioned God numerous times to curse bad drivers, missing keys, screws and nails, pizza boxes that won’t fit in the fridge, pickle jars, drawers that are too full to close, slow moving people, stop lights, snow, cabinet doors, and dog poop, to name a few things. Traffic and inanimate objects are the bane of my existence. I think it’s funny that on TV, anyone can say “God” and “d*mn” (see, it’s still stupid looking), but when they’re stuck together, it has to be bleeped.
It’s not like I’m telling you that you should start talking up a blue streak, but for the love of Larry, if God spent a whole commandment to tell us not to say “Oh my God,” that’s a waste. If you’re only going to hand out ten basic rules, are you really going to spend 10% of your rule-making on when and when not to say you’re name? I don’t think God would do that.
And if I just lost you, you’ll see where I’m going next…
Christians take God’s name in vain the most
When people say “Oh my God,” they don’t even think about it. Sure, it’s rude. But what does it really mean to take God’s name in vain? I think God gets way more P.O.ed (cuss word ititials are dumb too) from Christians who sincerely take his name in vain. How do we do it? By showing up to church and praising him while we curse our neighbors. By sincerely asking God to do things that He has said he won’t do. By creating a false idol and calling it “God.” By worshipping God so He’ll give us more stuff. By calling ourselves “Christians,” which has the name of God in it, and not acting like we follow Christ. And God’s up there saying, “Holy shrimpcakes, you’ve got to be kidding.”
When it comes to cussing, maybe it’s not the words that come out of a man’s mouth that’s wrong, but the cause of it in his heart. If I can get so mad at the ATM that I let out a string of curse words at it, something is wrong with my emotions, and my mouth is just a symptom.
But instead of doing the hard thing by not asking God for stupid crap that’s bad for us, or getting our emotions under control, we do the easy thing and tell some new Christian that now that he’s a Christian he’ll need to stop swearing and “talk nice” so he doesn’t offend the delicate sensibilities of other Christians. We get riled up about non-Christians using the word “God.” But when you realize that Christians are the biggest abusers of God’s name, you know that we should really shut the smurf up because we don’t have any place being offended.
Great graham crackers.
What’s your policy on naughty words? Are they just words? Are they never to be spoken? Or should we be looking at a bigger problem than what comes out of our mouths?