My sweet girl has a friend who cusses. She asked what I thought about it. This isn’t the first time we have talked about this particular topic. In fact, I remember when my kids were little wee things and they were playing a game of Go Fish together. My darling angel girl at a whole two years old was sweetly repeating the same phrase each time she had to go, fish. We kept listening to try to figure out what she was saying when, in horror, we realized she was practically chirping, ‘damn it.’ What?!?! Why? Who says that? And so began our first sit-down together.
We have talked about all the whys of cussing. And we have underlined our emphatic desire that they never react to someone else cussing. Our basic stance is that we prefer to keep their mouths clean (the Bible teaches us to not use coarse language and we have friends who are deeply offended by it) but we want them authentic. Don't put on a mask just to avoid getting caught by us. If they want to say a ‘bad’ word, however, they will face any and all consequences, including anything that may come their way from the parents of friends. If they are old enough to choose offensive words, then they have to be old enough to deal with the responses.
I'm not supposed to.
But I do.
Sometimes I cuss in anger. Sometimes I cuss because I think the word actually receives less power and attention than what we give it when we perform acrobatics to convey the word without actually saying it. Sometimes that becomes ridiculously silly and I prefer to avoid it. Sometimes I cuss because it is the vocabulary word that best expresses my meaning.
Matthew 12:25, 36, 37 NASB
"And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.""
That’s certainly something to think about. I don’t know that it refers only to cuss words. I think our more careless words are ones that are of the dismissive or gossip variety. We will be accountable for these.
Then there is this. I am reading a book called The Twenty-Piece Shuffle: Why the Poor and Rich Need Each Other by Greg Paul. In it he tells about his church. He belongs to a church that includes homeless and addicts along with the wealthy and middle class. He tells about one day when a new suburban couple came to visit. The church meets in a circle and they were praying with the author positioned so he could see the faces of the new family and the tortured addict who was currently praying. This man was pouring his heart out in anguish. At the end, he punctuated the prayer with an unprintable word. The author shares how he watched the reactions of the new family.
The adults kept heads bowed, eyes closed and faces serene. The two little girls popped up heads, popped open eyes. Seeing no other reactions in the gathering, they quickly resumed the ‘proper praying position.’ The author shares that he figured that was the last time they’d ever see that fine family. Not so. They are active members of that body and had been for three years when the author finally asked the lady if she remembered her first visit. Of course she did. And she remembered the man’s anguished prayer. And she remembered that word he used. What did she think? She said she knew she was home! From the book:
She continued on to speak of her deep hunger for “unmitigated reality”—the possibility of being thoroughly honest about her own internal needs and battles and of receiving the gift of such honesty from others. She longed to break bread and drink wine, she said, for true communion, the knowledge that “we”—some undefined group of pilgrims—were walking the same road in unity with each other, a unity found in and leading to Christ himself. Her middle-class (that is, wealthy) church and life experience, where every messy thing is so carefully contained, every surface so diligently polished, had left her with a sense of discontentment, of empty wandering. She wanted to get her hands on Jesus.
Maybe this is another reason why I cuss. Because it is real. If I think it, I say it. I don’t advocate such an unfiltered life. It is hard on relationships and very hard on one’s reputation. People often don’t care to hear everything I am thinking. But there are a cherished few who do. They want to know, because they actually love me. Not what I do, or how I am, but me. All of me. And they bother to journey this life towards Jesus with me. Not polished and shined. We have not arrived. But striving and real. So, sometimes I cuss…