The less than definitive guide to cussing as a Christian
A few years back a comedy duo named Tripp & Tyler put out a video called Shoot Christians Say. The video was making fun of Christianese, or all the terms Christians use on a regular basis. If you haven’t seen the video, I recommend you go watch it now. It’s pretty great.
My favorite part is the last segment where they ping pong Christian cuss words back and forth:
What the h?
Son of a bee sting.
He’s really tee-ing me off. I’m going to kick his aye.
Are you ess-ing me?
Having gone to a Christian college, I’d heard every single one of these on a regular basis. When I worked in student ministry, I heard students say these Christian cuss words around me because they were afraid of saying the real thing.
They thought I’d be offended.
Or think less of them.
Or tell their mom.
The reason Christian cuss words exist is because we don’t have a theological understanding of how to use our language. We think God cares about individual words. We act as though God left out a whole section of Leviticus that told us which words were clean and which were not.
So today, because it’s my birthday and the internet isn’t allowed to get mad at me and say mean things about blog posts that may or may not offend conservative Christians on my birthday, I figured I’d lay down the guidelines on when, where, and why we’re allowed to cuss as Christians.
Three Questions To Ask Before Cussing As A Christian:
Why am I using that language?
The Bible is pretty clear that Jesus is more concerned about our hearts than our actual actions. Before you drop an f-bomb, ask yourself why you’re wanting to drop that bomb.
Is it to be rebellious? Is it because you’re mad? Is it to tear someone else down?
Or is it because a well placed f-bomb can make an okay joke an incredible joke and you’re trying to cheer up your best friend?
We’re taught to not let any corrupting talk come of our our mouths and to only say things that are good for building others up. If your reason for cussing is to be different, to rebel against the rules you were raised under, or to tear someone else down then, as Tripp and Tyler joked about, you might need to check your heart before you say anything at all.
Who am I around?
We’re told to do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves. This means we’re commanded by Scripture to honor and respect the people around us. It’s our duty as Christ-followers to count their wishes more significant than ours if their values are different than ours.
I have a friend named Patti. Patti is an incredible woman who I always enjoy being around. Patti and I see differently when it comes to Christians cussing. She thinks (like many of you reading this I’m sure) that Christians should not cuss at any point. While I disagree with her, I respect her enough to count her beliefs and convictions as more significant than mine. I refuse to cuss around Patti because I love Patti.
If I’m with my close friends who I know feel the same as me, I’m going to be less guarded because I know four letter words aren’t going to offend them.
Know who you are around and respect them enough to put their values above your own.Know who you are around and respect them enough to put their values above your own. Click To Tweet
Where am I at and what’s going on?
As an extension of the last point, you have to be aware of your surroundings. There are places you’ll go where there’s no way to know who is around you. For example, on this blog, I have no clue who is going to read this. What I do know is there will be people from both sides of this debate and, because of that, I will choose to use language that honors and respects them.
Likewise, if you’re out in public, you should probably use a little restraint. People already have enough jacked up opinions of the way Christians should and shouldn’t act that we don’t need to give them more reasons to question us before they get to know us.
In reality, all three of these points can be applied to a lot of things in our lives as Christians. Substitute “cussing as a Christian” with “drinking alcohol as a Christian” and you have a similar post.
When it comes down to it, a lot of the expectations for how Christians should behave with regards to language come from where someone grew up.
I had a pastor tell me once about the time he went to church in Australia. He stood next to a guy who passionately worshipped Jesus during the service. Then, immediately after the service, this guy dropped an f-bomb in casual conversation. To this guy, because of his culture, that word was just a word. It didn’t have the same stigma as it does in the Conservative South. What the pastor told me after that story is what has stuck with me:
Language is fleeting. It changes from culture to culture. At the end of the day, God cares about why we say things more than what we say.
If there’s one thing I can leave you with today, it’s this:
We have freedom in Christ to do a lot of things but our love and respect for others must always trump that freedom.We have freedom in Christ to do a lot of things but our love and respect for others must always trump that freedom. Click To Tweet
Say your prayers and take your vitamins.
Have a nice day.