This blog post has taken me years to write. I’m not even joking. I’ve posted, edited, and reposted my thoughts on this subject more than a couple times. I started writing this entry when my oldest boys were in elementary school and now they’re both in high school. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in countless conversations about family standards. Opinions and standards, especially regarding cussing, are nearly as varied as the casserole dishes served at a Baptist potluck. I’ve been challenged by each perspective as they’ve refined my own. As with any other area of conviction in my life, I refuse to settle for ‘just because’. My faith has it’s eyes wide open.
The subject of cussing tends to draw a lot of attention from moms defending every angle of this discussion. To cuss or not to cuss? Is cussing okay for adults but not kids? Or is it okay for kids over the age of ten? We blush when they drop the “F-bomb” at age 6 but not at age sixteen. Should they use only some cuss words? After all, if our kids hear bad language in movies and at school, why don’t we just allow them to use bad language at home?
As parents, we have the tremendous opportunity to encourage our kids to think outside the box, swim against the current, stand up for what is right, be courageous, be respectful, be gentlemen and ladies, use good logic when setting their personal standards, blah, blah, blah. We want them to rise above situations and handle themselves as leaders and think through what they do before they do it. I can’t imagine a parent actually advising their child to just go with the flow although this can certainly be implied when that parent does not help shape and form their child’s thoughts and standards.
The discussion of cussing tends to be a tricky one with parents and individuals as a whole because we simply don’t know where to stand on the subject and in our free-thinking culture, if we have moral standards that don’t blend in, we can quickly be titled as ‘legalistic’ instead of bold, passionate, daring, or courageous. While we may follow the example of others because we don’t know what to do or because we want to fit in, I believe that there there are many times that we go with the flow to skip the hard lessons of soul-searching or truth-finding within ourselves.
When I’m not sure where to go with a life dilemma or how to set a standard, I personally default to; love God then love others. (It doesn’t work the other way around). Since we’re discussing cussing, am I honoring God and loving the people around me with what I say and the way I say it? Even if I take cussing out of the equation, are my words in general loving? Sometimes people can have a filthy mouth or share a filthy attitude without using a single foul word.
My biggest hang up in the world of cussing is the ever-present ‘f-bomb’. It’s become a vocabulary crutch and is used as a substitute for nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. I can handle cussing – it’s all around me but I have certainly found myself in situations where I wonder if our education system is failing or if people just turn their brains off when they open their mouths. Seriously. Then there are the special situations where people use abhorrent language to get a rise out of someone like me because I go to church. And that’s just rude. Are they expecting me to throw a temper tantrum or burst into flames? Inwardly, I roll my eyes and hope the cusser steps on a rake.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not judging the souls of people in my life who cuss. I am blessed beyond measure by my friends and family regardless of what words they employ. I’ve listened to and have been challenged by sermons where pastors cuss, I’ve enjoyed incredibly powerful music or movies that have included cussing, and some of my closest friends who dedicate their lives to honoring God cuss sometimes. And here’s my own confession: yes, I’ve cussed. I’m not condoning it – I’m simply challenging us all to think before we speak, myself included.
Honestly, I highly respect people who communicate with real, creative, and intelligent words. I’m energized by people who fearlessly dive beyond the shallows of life, calling me to think beyond my little world as we discuss pain, heartache, travels, dreams, books, culture, religion, and the raw places within our own hearts. Rarely do these types of conversations require being foul.
Mankind is hard-wired to create beauty, warmth, growth, challenge, and inspiration within the souls and situations around us. This is easily and quickly accomplished with how we speak, what we share on social media, and how we greet strangers in public. Our words are mighty. We can devastate someone with an insult and we can resurrect the broken with encouragement and grace.
We can do so much better with our mighty words than what we’ve settled for…
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue…
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Matthew 12:36-37 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
James 3:4-6 …consider ships as well. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot is inclined. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things. Consider how small a spark sets a great forest on fire. 6 The tongue also is a fire…