So Monday I was wrestling with the idea of swearing. I like those gray areas in life and many of my discussions in my young adult class deal with them. Is it right for a Christian to get a tattoo? Things of that nature. As I wrestled with it I began to try and build up different sides to the argument, since I like to play devil’s advocate in my class to generate more discussion. This morning I read Jon’s blog, Stuff Christians Like and it dealt with the same subject. Then tonight in class we ended up talking about this. It wasn’t part of our topic. We finished the book of Revelation and it came up. Some others discussed it and I was like, “wow I’ve been all over this the past couple days.” So I am listening and moving forward with this one even though it looks like I’m just copying Jon.
It occurred to me that a cuss word does not have any inherent power. We assign it the value we feel it deserves. This is why many use the words like punctuation and place holders in their speech. Often words change meanings to that what was acceptable becomes improper. I have a few King James Versions of the Bible. In those Bibles they refer to a donkey with the word ass. This was a perfectly acceptable word and was not profane at all. I can validate this with the fact that it was in the Bible and by definition it cannot be profane in if it is in the Bible. If you didn’t get that you need a dictionary. It was not too long ago that the word bitch was the proper term for a female dog and was only used in that context. It is still the proper term for a female dog, much as doe is the proper term for a female deer, but I imagine quite a few Christians had a couple heart flutters when they saw I had written the word even though I was using proper terminology and context.
If these words have no power then why is there a problem with saying or writing them?
Well that is because you took what I said out of context. I didn’t say the words had no power, I said the words have only the power we give to them. The discussion over on Jon’s blog chastised me because I had begun to believe my own argument until I read a couple of the comments there. The biggest problem with swearing is what it does to the people around us. We are a light on a hill but when we cover ourselves in the things of the world we cannot be seen. We are the salt of the Earth, but when we mix ourselves with impurities we lose our saltiness and must be tossed out into the streets. When we are not distinctly different from the world, then we offer nothing to the world. We should be striving to rise to a higher standard, even if that standard is something not absolutely required by God.
If I were to let lose a string of expletives around a group of carpenters that swear every other word because I hit my thumb with a hammer they would take note. It is nothing for the rest of them to do it, but if they know I am a Christian and I don’t normally talk like that they notice those things, and I will have begun to hurt my witness with them. If I join in with the crude jokes s I can fit in then I hurt it yet again. If I go get a tattoo so they will think I’m cool and start smoking or whatever … you get the picture.
I think we tend to ask the wrong question. We ask “is it OK to cuss?” This is just another way of saying “how close can I get to the world without being part of the world?” I think the real question we need to ask is, “How close can I get to God before I leave this world?”