The Allure of a Foul Mouth: Curse Words and the Church

imgres-3These days it seems like everybody uses curse words. Although those that monitor the usage of these words in the media call for censorship, they allow just the right amount of letters to slip out of the bleep so that the intended audience can have some idea what the word is supposed to be. This type of censorship reflects the attitude of the culture that it’s in. If a large amount of those that live within the culture were bothered by the usage of these words then the censorship committees would be hard-press not to bleep them completely, or better yet, rework the dialogue so that there wouldn’t be a need for bleeping.

The existence of a censoring committee is evidence that a large part of the audience is concerned about words. The committee would not have existed and any attempts to create one would have been strongly protested if a large majority of the audience was fiercely against it. The majority of the audience is not anticensorship and if they are, they are not passionate in their conviction. However, over time it seems that the committee has become more lenient in what it allows. The partial bleeping of certain words and the removal of some from the bleeping list–that is to say they are not curse words, or that they are acceptable curse words–are indications of the progressive leniency of the committee. It is only able to do so because a lenient audience allows it.

In its day to day interactions the audience uses a vast array of curse words. A curse word is used when one wants to degrade another, to express anger when something goes awry, or as an adjective in a sentence. It seems like there is no end to the type of ways curse words can be use. It has gotten to the point that if you don’t curse you stand out as an anomaly. The reason that this is possible is because the underlying drive that pushed not only the explosion of curse word usage, but nudity and the telling of what use to be classified as “private business,” is the self-expression mentality.

The mentality goes beyond simply being yourself. It’s about allowing the world to see who you are without care for what is considered right and wrong, no sense of morality. Everyone reveals things about themselves to some degree. It’s natural. However, this mentality allows for the extreme: the revealing of everything without care for the opinions of anybody else. It allows for rebellion to be glorified and to be viewed as how things ought to be.

What happened over time is that the mentality has also grabbed hold of most of those that it initially was reacting against. So now it’s not really a reaction, its a norm. Part of the norm is the constant use of curse words. It is in this environment that the Christian is found. Lo and behold curse words are heard more than ever on the lips of Jesus’ followers. Is it for the better or the worst? It’s easy to get an answer within the confines of a faith community. But how do young Christians sort their way through this complex environment?

The existence of a faith community entails not only that those within hold to the same beliefs but that those beliefs are reflected in their lifestyles. There are Christians that don’t curse. This does not mean that they’ve never said a curse word. It means that they rarely curse. They hold to the view that using foul language is wrong so they don’t use it. They tend to be more cautious with what they say and therefore choose their words carefully. They are viewed as anomalies for their rejection of the everything goes communication system.

There are Christians that curse. Some of these don’t want to do it and are struggling. Others are not really concern with stopping and feel that it’s completely acceptable if they use some choice words here and there to get their point across. Making the distinction between those that are struggling and those that don’t care is important because Christianity recognizes the inward struggle of the believer between what is right and wrong. Whereas foul language may be an issue for one, it’s not necessarily an issue for another. The one that it is not an issue for shouldn’t feel superior.

The Christian can’t allow cultural environment to alter classification on what is right and wrong without significant thought. Whereas on one hand the culture applauds those that mingle Christian views with itself, it is quick to identify certain behaviors as unfitting for those who profess Christianity. One of those behaviors is cursing. If you were to ask non-Christians: do Christians curse? They would say yes. If you were to ask them: should they be cursing? They would probably answer no.

The reason that a Christian should not curse can’t be base on wether or not the culture thinks so. It should be base on the meaning, the impact, and the intent behind the usage of the word. If this concept is difficult to understand it is because there exist a lack of exposure to biblical teachings on speaking. The teachings speak against the anything goes approach. Perhaps this is the reason why they do not receive sufficient attention. This automatically puts Christians at odds with their surroundings. They are then face with conforming to the biblical stance or going the way of all the earth.

How do we help young Christians? We need to teach them what the Bible says about speaking. Adults need to be aware of their speech. There is a dual effect when teaching and living flow together, They shouldn’t only be told about it, but they should see it. Perhaps part of the failure may be that a large amount of Christian adults are now cursing and so those that come after are simply following in their footsteps. Sometimes what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

The allure of the foul mouth will keep calling. This contra-Christian, rebellious, mystical way of being will attempt to sink its teeth on any Christian who dare to stare longingly. It’s time to show the better way of communicating. One in which countless neglected words in our languages are use to communicate effectively.



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Philosophical Musings: An Existential Reflection on Friendship and Communication

philosophy11As of late, I’ve been spending quality time with some good friends of mine. We haven’t always done this, and I assumed that the reason was because of availability. This summer, however, has provided a great opportunity to further immerse ourselves into this wonderful thing of ours. These moments have led me to the conclusion that it was never really an issue of availability, it was our neglect of some fundamentals without which one can never be more than an “almost friend.”

There are many definitions of what a friend is. The most notable one is, “one attached to another by affection or esteem” (Webster). This definition suggests that affection or esteem is the glue that holds the friendship together. I do have slight disagreements with the definition. I think that it should be: “one attached to another by affection [and] esteem.” My reason is that in a friendship, affection and esteem, which conveys a sense of favor towards and value of, must co-exist.

Upon further consideration I think that the definition should emphasize the mutuality of the attachment. If one side is displaying the necessary ingredients for a friendship but it is not receiving anything in return, then it is not a friendship. Friends should be two or more people that are attached to each other by affection and esteem. Of course there are degrees of affection and esteem, and thus the ones that possess a higher degree of them for each other are the closest friends–or shall we say, “best friends.”

One may do an act with friend-like similitude but not be a friend. On this basis I would like to suggest that knowing for ourselves who our friends are may save us a lot of heartache. It’s profitable to make a mental profile of those that one interacts with to make distinctions between friends, friendlies, and enemies. There is a sense of comfort when one undertake serious reflection on what a friend means to them and who they have shared that kind of experience with.

From a theological perspective some believe that when man was created, he was alone until Eve came. However, when man was created God was the first one that he communicated with. God was not only man’s creator, but man’s first friend. Man didn’t begin alone and is never alone. In fact, man’s natural state of existence is in relation to others within a larger community. If by chance man finds himself in the desert with no other being like himself, God is still around whether man acknowledge Him as God or not.

Time spent doing anything is time invested in being influenced and changed, whether positively or negatively, by what is being done. Whether this time is of quality or not is based on the perspective of the one doing the assessment. When it comes to friendships, quality time is anytime spent doing things that contribute positively to the health of that friendship. This is a time that deepens the affection and esteem that one has for the other.

There is more than one way that affection and esteem can deepen within time. But the keyword is communication. Communication is foremost in anything dealing with two people or more. However, simply communicating is not enough. The method and content of communication is pivotal to whether a friendship exist and what form that existence take. As a norm, many tend not to pay much attention to how they communicate because the content is often viewed as what is most important.  As preachers know, this is an error. This can have devastating results because the way in which something is conveyed plays an integral part of the interpretive process. In case you are wondering, communication can take many forms: speech, touch, etc.

I would argue that we may view communication as the major category in which we can fit everything else. In a broad sense I’m saying that communication is the transfer of anything from one person to another. Some may wish to challenge this by arguing that one may not intend on communicating anything by what is being transferred. That is true, but whether one intended to or not, communication still occurs. Communication is not base solely on intent or even whether we are around or not. In fact, not being around, believe it or not, is communicating something to those we are and aren’t around.

Though affection and esteem are what holds the friendship together, it is only birthed through communication. In other words, if there is no communication there is no way to be exposed to the personality to which affection and esteem can be allocated to. Communication plays a double role: one of initiator and sustainer of a friendship.

I don’t know about you, but I’m done theorizing about this. I’m off to practice what I’ve thought.