Thursday, May 27, 2010

Which came first, the curse word, or the "replacement"

I've been thinking about cursing for a while. Well, not doing it, but about the cursing debate. I have talked about it on my blog - Christian fiction books containing curse/swear words. I've had different reactions to it. Some, like me, are disgusted by it and feel they have no place in a Christian book. Others defend it, say it is "real life" and other insane comments like that. While I am on that subject, let me make a bold statement. It is wrong to curse. To use the "d word", "s word", etc - so if an author puts it in their book, and it is wrong to use language like that - then the author is sinning - in more than one way. They are using words that are wrong to use, and they are subjecting their readers to reading those words in a book where they don't expect to. Have I mentioned that I have had people who don't profess an ounce of religion apologize to me for saying them in my presence? How ironic - a sinner aploogizing for the same thing a Christian author and publisher will defend, and not care about offending me - somegthing wrong there. It is sad that a sinner is worried more about offending a Christian, than another Christian. Very sad and pathetic. But I digress.......

One defense I hear, is we who don't curse, use "replacement words". Rats, fiddlesticks, shucks - I'm sure the list is endless. So anyway, I was thinking about this, and had a few thoughts. The first - which came first, the chicken, or the egg? Or in this case, the curse word or the replacement? Turn the calendar back many years, and even sinners didn't use that kind of language - wasn't on TV, wasn't on the radio - was rare to talk like that - yet I'm sure people had words to express frustration, or something they said when they hit their thumb with a hammer - so is it possible that instead of our replacement words being that, that the curse words are the replacement? Very possible and likely.

And not all "replacement words" are the same. Some are way too close to the real thing. I hear kids at my church saying "oh my cow" and "fudge" - way too close to the real thing. Heck - if you look that one up, one of the definitions that is given is this: euphemistic alter. of hell. Look up "gosh" - euphemistic alter. of God. So we do need to be careful with some of what we call slang, but to defend curse words by saying that we are just as wrong who say something else instead is baloney, and not a good defense, but people guilty of something will always try to find something in the person who points out that wrong. So yes, we should be careful what we say when frustrated, but no, I don't think it is wrong to say something like "rats."

Onto my second point for you people who still disagree with me on the above point. If you are going to stand by the point that it is wrong to say something such as "rats", and it is just a replacement word for a curse word, and you are just as bad, etc - then chew on this one: I don't know if you have noticed this, but people of the world who do curse a lot, don't just do it when angry or frustrated. Tell them something that surprises them. Instead of "wow", you will often get a "s....", or the f-word - so if you are going to stick with the idea that anything said in frustration that is not a curse word, is just as wrong, then saying "wow" when surprises is just as wrong since so many cursers say a curse word.

A step further...... the f word is used in place of things like "messed up" - so is it wrong to say something is messed up since the f-word user would say something else -up? Do you get the idea that I am weary of the weak defense that anything said in frustration is just as bad as cursing? Curse words are prevalent in a cursers language - they use them for all purposes - not just to express frustration, but to express shock, fill in when they don't know what to say - even to describe something good. My boss told me one night that I was just too "d" fast. Another co-worker said my mom's cookies kicked "donkey". So let us be consistent - if we are going to claim "replacement words" for cursing when frustrated, injured, etc is just as bad, then we had better throw the blanket over all the other uses of cursing also.

Sound ludicrous? Maybe so - though I do think I have a good point. So let's be real here - cursing is wrong - sinners curse, not Christians - not in speech or in books we write or publish - and though we need to not only watch our language, but our atttitudes, it isn't wrong to say some words when frustrated or hurt - we just need to be careful which ones we use.

An added note - yes, this post may be a bit over the top - I was intentionally trying to be. I agree with Andi's comment below about God knowing our heart - there are just some words that Christians should never use - and the slang terms I mentioned - that is the dictionary saying what they mean - not my words, but that is one reason I don't use those slang terms.

I have become increasingly frustrated with curse words appearing in Christian books, and with Christians who are not bothered by it, and those who defend it. This post was intended to look at the defense that anything said in place of a curse word is just as wrong, etc.


Andi said...

Wow Mark! I use all kinds of replacement words, but I don't cuss. My Dad uses fiddlesticks, in fact my daughter taught that to my granddaughter who is 2 just because it was cute to hear her say it. I think a little of this is over the top. It all goes back to the heart! God knows our heart and He knows our motives. I am reminded of a billboard that was on the highway that said "don't take my name in vain use yours" I think in some instances this can become legalistic as anything else. I believe God would rather we use replacement words because it shows intelligence than the street cuss words. Just my .02 Oh and another fave is pickle juice.

Mark said...

Thanks for the comment, Andi - I was trying to be over the top a bit to make a point

Steve-n-Deb said...

Maybe it was over the top, but I'm not sure it is. I'm bothered by the replacement words as well (we do try to deal with it at school). The attitude that is used is important, but so is the fact that anyone listening knows that you are using a substitute word. I've become much more careful about my language as I've grown up.

Annette W. said...

I've left comments before for you, so I think you know I agree with you.

I just wanted to share something that was brought to my attention...some people believe that any word is okay to use other than taking the Lord's name in vain. I happen to disagree with it; many are just plain vulgar and others unneeded. I know some Christians use a handful of "mild" words that I choose not to...yet I do use some replacements.

Having a 1 and 3 year old listen to each word does help one to be careful!!

Kimmy said...

Let me preface this by saying I do not swear or use curse words. I think those words have become ugly sounding because of the meanings that people have attached to them.

I think first of all we need to define what a "curse word" actually is.

To swear at is to use abusive, violent, or blasphemous language against; curse.

I think anything we say that is meant to harm or abuse is swearing. Words in and of themselves are just words. It's the meaning that we attach to them that matter.

There are many words that used to be considered normal, clean words that are now associated with fowl language.

Some great examples of this:
1. A**, we all know is a donkey. It's even biblical.
2. bi**h, a female dog.
3. He**, a place created for the devil and his angels.
4. Gay, used to mean happy, it now refers to homosexual.
5. Bast**d. A child born out of wedlock.
6. Pi**, also in the bible.

It's the way people use these words that make them bad. It's the derogatory meanings people attach to these words that have caused them to become "swear words".

Words that have been used in a derogatory manner start to become ugly because of the way they are used.

I think the point is to be careful that everything that comes out of your mouth is edifying. Look at the intent of your heart in everything you say. You can say things that are just as bad by not swearing. For example calling someone an idiot is not the least bit edifying. We are to spur one another on with love.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Andi said...

I get the point, but doesn't it go back to the heart. No one knows my heart like God does, so I say "fiddlesticks" when I get frustrated about something that doesn't change my relationship with God because He knows my heart. While I believe we need to be careful about our words, we also need to let God be the one who deals with our hearts and impress on us about what we should and shouldn't say. He will be the one that will ultimately say to us "well done good and faithful servant" or "I never knew you."