This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cussing 2

Our moral superstitions about cussing can keep us from reaching people.

Some people are so offended by hearing cussing they refuse to even "be around it."  People refuse to buy movies that have cussing in them.  People even walk out of theaters when someone cusses in a movie.  People even walk away from other people who start cussing.  People even confront others, "Please don't cuss around me!" 

My parents love to watch movies.  And i remember my mother often saying, "That movie would've been just as good without all the cussing in it."  i used to heartily agree and say it myself when reviewing films.  But now i think i missed the point.  

Yeah, i'm sure i would've thought the movie was just as good.  But the fact is a lot of people cuss.  And a lot of people hear a lot of other people cuss--people around them, close to them, even related to them, even their best friends.  

While cussing may sound offensive to you or me, the fact is there are a great many people for whom this language is normal.  There are even people who are so familiar with these words, that they find it easier to express themselves using them than not (even though they're perfectly intelligent enough to think of other words to say).  

What does my enforcement of cussing taboos say to them?  If i say, "Don't cuss around me," what have i communicated to someone?  Perhaps, "you're too offensive for me to listen to."  If i get up and leave, what does that say?  Perhaps, "you're too offensive for me to spend time with, love, or pay attention to."  Do you really think Jesus would get up and walk away from that person?  Do you really think Jesus would say "stop speaking to me in your own way"?  Maybe i'm wrong, but i definitely see the Pharisees acting this way but not Jesus.  The Pharisees wouldn't be around or spend time with people they thought of as "sinners."  Yet these are the very people Jesus spent a great deal of His time with.  

If we're so offended by cussing that we have to walk away from or hush people, how are we even going to talk to people we're supposed to be trying to reach?  Don't you hope people would choose to overlook something in you in order to love you and try to reach you if you needed it?  That's certainly what Jesus did for us all.  If Jesus felt He had to leave or stop people from communicating every time He detected something offensive, where would we be now?  In what state would that leave us?  

Any set of rules that leads to us failing to reach people, failing to love people, and failing to be Christ-like to people cannot possibly be a good ethical strategy.


Josephus Flavius said...

Being inured to bad behavior is not a solution. It's a capitulation.

There are lots of other behaviors we find to be offensive and we don't ignore them. I would also mention that much of the cursing out there is also blasphemy. Scripture has a lot to say about that. For those curses that involve sexual behavior, they also has a lot to say about sexual impropriety and the allowance for those acts. Psalm 1 would seem to give counsel on this.

Christ didn't go the prostitute and say keep selling yourself, to the tax collector to keep skimming off the top, to the money changers to keep working in the temple... he was willing to speak with them, but he spoke the truth in love.

reborn1995 said...


i realize now that I've ordered my posts rather poorly. i probably wouldn't disagree with any of your comment. The problem is it presupposes a certain definition of "cussing" that i don't intend in my writing. By cussing, i don't mean to include crude sexual reference or blasphemy or slander. (All of those can be achieved without the use of any 'naughty' words at all.) i mean a mere list of words.

Based on passages like Phil 3:8 or 1King 16:11 KJV, i think our uneasiness over mere words reveals more about our cultural prejudices than our keen moral sensibilities.


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