Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cursing Christians

How can you say I shouldn't use "curse words"? To be “relevant” to people don't you have to use their language? You wouldn’t go to Aborigines speaking the King’s English - you’d speak their own language. We have to use profanity to reach them!

I have heard that argument many times, and I'm sure you have, too. It's so compelling, so sensitive ... and yet, so wrong. It is true, you must approach Aborigines speaking Aboriginal languages. But we’re dealing with something altogether different here. Aboriginal languages are neither better nor worse than English - they’re just different. But profanity is different: everybody KNOWS inside that it’s wrong, in fact most people use it primarily because they know that.

How do I know? Well, I have a whole lot of years of experience with profanity - around 20, from about age 15 to 35 - and I can tell you two things I've learned. First, all that time I used profanity freely although, and partly because, it was wrong. Inside, I think I was expressing rebellion against those mean ol’ church people. Of course, I didn't say to myself "I wish to rebel against the church and God and so I think I will use many curse words today": I never examined my attitudes, I just did it.

But once God saved me from my sins, I had a complete change in attitude. I knew immediately - I had always known inside, and so do you - that profanity was wrong and God hated it. It was really not any new knowledge God was bringing to me. 1 John 2:7-8 (NIV) expresses very well what we all go through:

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

It was an old command I had always known inside. Yet it was a new one as well: I hadn't cared that my speech was dishonoring to God, but now I did. Suddenly, in a moment, it appeared to me as a new command, and one that I knew that I both had to and wanted to follow. This is one of the many reasons I believe the monergists/Calvinists have it right: God took out my uncaring heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh against my will, yet once He did it, it was my will. Before, I freely wanted to keep on sinning and resist God; after, I freely wanted to follow Him. So I stopped it almost immediately, knowing it wasn't something that God wanted me to do.

The second thing I can tell you is that if somebody had come up to me cursing up a blue streak and then said: “but enough about that: let me tell you about Jesus” I’d have immediately sensed the contradiction, the hypocrisy of it all. Although, like most people, I couldn't put into words exactly what “hypocrisy” was, I would have known inside that it was being one thing and acting like another; and the hypocrisy of the cursing Christians would have been evident. It would have been yet another roadblock to faith I threw up.

In fact, what started to bring me around was a couple of guys that I worked with who did not use profanity. They didn't hold it over the rest of us, they didn't treat us like they thought they were better; they just didn't swear. In fact, they were strangely silent when we would profane God's name and use disgusting synonyms for sexual acts and human body parts and excretions. I vividly remember an occasion when I used a particularly vile expression in talking to one of the guys. I had made up that exact expression, and I was rather proud of myself; it pains me to think about now. Anyway, he was rather quiet, and then said softly, "you know, that's kind of disgusting if you think about it." That was nearly 20 years ago, and I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was not born again until almost 10 years later, but it had a definite impact on me. It was a chink appearing in my self-built armor against God.

So, you know what the really sad part is? These cursing Christians - who I have no doubt have deluded themselves that they're cursing for the Kingdom - don’t know that those poor precious unbelieving souls are laughing at them inside and using their profanity as yet another defense that they toss up in their desperate attempt to avoid God. In their "caring" and becoming all things to all men (a verse taken out of context if ever there was one), they are helping the people they say they care about be sped on their way to Hell. It’s truly heart-wrenching.


Angela said...

Gary, I totally agree with you. I come from the same past. I used to take pride in the fact that I could curse better than most men I knew. As a woman, it now makes me sad to know that I used to be that way. I grew up around gang members, drug users and using foul language was just the way we grew up. Thank God for saving me! I too knew better and now I cringe when I hear foul language. I believe that the words we speak as Christians should be edifying to others and should also distinguish us as different from those who do not know Jesus. God bless you.

Gary Bisaga (aka fool4jesus) said...

Angela, thank you. I have heard certain types of people say - I have debated in blog metas with them - "Oh, but to reach inner city people with the Gospel we have to curse." I take it that you would agree that this is hogwash. Well-meaning, perhaps; compassionate, probably; but hogwash all the same.