Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You can't say that in church.

Disclaimer: This blog contains profanity. If that offends you, keep reading. I wrote it for you.

I'll be honest. I like to swear. I think it's a hoot. The very fact that certain words in our vernacular are somehow more "taboo" than others constantly bemuses me, and using those words at the appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate) times gives me a kick.

And why shouldn't it? Is there really anything special about 4 or 5 letters arranged in a special order?

No, but it would be naive for me to say that words have no meaning, or that what we say has no effect on other people. At critical junctures in history, a single word has meant the difference between success and failure, order or chaos, even life and death. The difference isn't the words we say, but the intention behind them. The spirit of the language is what hurts and heals and bonds and breaks. Which brings me to my point:

Can I say the word "shit" in church?

I once made an announcement video for my church, (as I often do) and at one point in an announcement I said,
"Somebody's gonna be in deep doo-doo."

After the video aired, our pastor's wife (who is an awesome woman, don't get me wrong here) came up and said, "I like the video. But you can't say that word in church."
"Which one," I replied, "Doo-doo?"(I had been forewarned that she was ticked.)
She grimaced and nodded. "Yeah. That's the one."
I just raised my hands and gave an embarassed smile as she sighed, shook her head and walked away.

I was flabbergasted. It was never my intention to offend anyone- quite the contrary. I consciously chose "doo-doo", thinking it would be a better alternative than, "Somebody's gonna be in some deep dog shit over this one!" (Which, to note, I don't think is wrong. It might have caused some unpleasant ripples in the congregation, though.) But seriously, it was as if using fecal matter as a quantifying measure for trouble was some anathema towards Christendom! Have people become so petrified of words that their meaning and character has become secondary? It's just a rude word for feces, folks.

How's that for doo-doo kid?!

I often hear people using language as a standard for morality, both in their own lives and those of others. I think people are afraid to be transparent and really connect with the character of other people, so we use something tangible and audible to measure our integrity: profanity. This is a grave mistake! It's unfair to write someone off simply because their vocabulary is more colorful than ours. That's taking the easy route- instead of getting to know somebody's heart, we simply take a surface reading based on their words. But it's as simple as this: if the language of our hearts isn't being transformed, we all might as well be saying "fuck you" at the end of every sentence.

I can think of people in my own life who would never be caught saying as much as "pee-pee" in public, but the words that do come out of their mouth are more venomous and despicable than the oaths uttered by a salty sailor any day. I believe it's because they got the wrong idea- as if we could change our hearts by altering our words, instead of the other way around. It's only when I allow Christ to transform my personality do I truly witness the outpouring of loving speech. And speech like that might even have a few "doo-doo's" and "shits" in it.

That's why it's so important to look at the heart, not just the mouth. Transparency is the road to communication, and when we stop being afraid of words and start examining why we say them, I think we'll all understand each other a lot better.

And by the way:
By saying all this, I'm not condoning reckless swearing and allowing children to let their mouths run amok. If your kid drops the f-bomb, smack them. Then explain: Words like that are like a verbal handgun or knife- they can be used as weapons, tools, or (carefully) for fun. However, if you don't know how to use them properly, you can really hurt somebody or get yourself in a lot of trouble. So do mommy and daddy a favor and don't call your teacher an asshole anymore.

I know, in a perfect world, right? What do I know. I don't have kids.

1 comment:

Deirdre said...

Team America, fuck yeah! was one of the funniest uses of "fuck" that I've heard.

Good post.