Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!

I vividly remember my 7th and 8th grade school years for a couple of reasons (neither of which is good).  I was so cool as I was one of the baddest BMOC (look it up).  I was convinced that I was “all that” primarily because I could cuss the wall paper off the wall.  Fortunately I grew up and realized that anybody can cuss, it took no special talent on my part and in fact degraded any perceived intelligence someone might have thought I had acquired.  The other part I remember is how dirty I felt because of the cussing – obviously the conflict in my spirit between the secular and the devine, I’m glad the Lord won out!

From where I’m sitting, cussing falls into a similar category as low hanging pants.  Anyone can research the genesis of each and it’s not very pretty.  Their origins are certainly not of any noble birth and in fact speak far more loudly of someone’s lack of self esteem or intelligence than any misguided concept of culture.  Sure there are educated people who cuss (or wear the low baggy pants), but many are left with far less than a clear picture of what someone is actually trying to convey by their low hanging wardrobe or curse filled communication.

Recently I had the unique opportunity to observe thousands upon thousands of people as they visited or walked by my booth at the recent Tulsa State Fair.  Without going too far into stereotyping, suffice it to say the vast majority of cussing was found in direct proportion to the more unkempt the clothes, hair or posture people were sporting (to included those belt below the butt crowd).

I’m not sure which came first (as in the chicken or the egg) my growing up and maturing or my fear of the Lord in the knowledge I would be held accountable for all of those cuss words (as well as many other not so cuss words).  Whatever the case, I am so glad to have been delivered from the need to fill the voids of my intelligence with shock factor power words having the opposite effect of having to do with intelligence.  Having worked in construction almost all of my adult life, I have been able to personally witness how the quality of conversation goes up when a known (and respected) Christian enters the room, and I’m not just speaking of myself as that Christian.  With confidence I can attest that better, more concise and productive conversation takes place when a group of people are “forced” to use adjectives which actually contribute to the discussion.

There really is a whole level of dishonesty surrounding the whole cussing debate.  Parents might freely cuss around friends or each other but (God forbid) not in front of their kids because we don’t want our kids to talk that way (although some of the whitest of the poor white trash crowd have no qualms about cussing in front of their kids).  Is there really any difference in watching a 10 year old pouring out a string of expletives than the dirty old man down on the street corner?  And if there is a difference, what is it exactly and why?  If we don’t think our kids should be doing it, why are we?  If you won’t cuss around your parents but have no hesitation about cussing around the guys at work – why, what’s the difference.

Of course it is easy to address cussing being a sin according to scripture (James 3:10, Eph 4:29, Eph. 5:4, Ex 20:7, Col. 3:8 ….) and that should be our primary reason for it not being a part of our vocabulary or heart (because that is where we truly speak from – insert a much needed discussion on substitute cuss words here).  But there is also the very practical aspect of not cussing because you simply demote, discredit and devalue yourself as well as those who willingly listen with eager ears.

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving

Snorkeling and scuba diving are similar in many ways.  You are swimming in the water, breathing while your face is under water, viewing many of the oceans fish and flora and in general having a great time.  But snorkeling and scuba diving are not the same thing.  You cannot enjoy the hallways and rooms of a sunken ship at a depth of 100 feet while snorkeling neither can you easily lift your head out of the water to take a breath of fresh if you happened to swallow some water and you are scuba diving at depth.  So in spite of the fact that there are many similarities, to try and redefine or combine the two into one is simply dishonest and what I will call (coining a new phrase) – definition envy.

Definition envy is what someone does when they want to legitimize or validate what they are doing by associating it with a well established and time honored institution, event or activity.  The most prevalent example of this today is those who desire to call same sex partnerships a marriage.  Even though I consider homosexuality a sin from what I read in scripture, the truth is it is acknowledged in scripture as a reality that has been practiced for millennium.  It would be foolish for me to deny it historicallly.  I am not on some campaign to oppose civil unions or many of the partner benefits to be similar in nature to those inherent in a traditional marriage covenant.  And although I acknowledge similarities in many practices, a same sex union or partnership is simply not what the word marriage has been defined as for those same millennium.  There are distinct differences that demand different definitions as in the case of snorkeling and scuba diving.  If not, then what is the purpose of definitions and the muddy water that follows the merging of distinctly different things?

There are other definitions being challenged today.  What is gender, what is racism, what is pedophilia and perhaps most troubling, what is Christianity.  I believe there is purposeful intent and strategy in the attempted muddying of the water of definitions in today’s society.  It is that desire I mentioned earlier to attempt validation or legitimatization of actions which were historically frowned upon in order to try and bring them into the main stream of “everybody’s doing it”.  But the concept of “everybody’s doing it” is the enemy of the cross of Christ and the eternal boundary stones He set up before the foundations of the world to guide us away from trouble.  Our pastor yesterday posted a picture of a warning sign on a fence in Israel indicating “Danger Mines”.  He correlated the sign with the boundary stones of a Godly life.  The sign was not there to keep people from having fun, but rather a warning that to cross the (fence) line was to invite death and destruction.  The same is true for God’s commands of obedience.

So what we are experiencing today is same sex couples posing as married, transgenders posing as the opposite sex, pedophilia posing as tender love and most tragic of all an increasing number of people embracing the name Christian while plainly ignoring His character and teachings.  Barbie and I have personally met with several young unmarried dating couples who have no convictions of practice about having sex.  They might say they see it as “not the ideal” but love for God and obedience to His commands does not reach that far into their “private” lives.  A recent article in Charisma Magazine calls this “Sexual Atheism”.


But we do not even have to go that far down the road of sinful practices when you consider the rampant divorce rate, envy, gossip, lust or any of the other boundary stones of prohibition in scripture which are practiced unrepentantly among many church goers.  Please note the critical point of unrepentant actions as I can be labeled amongst the worst offenders of God’s boundary stones.  I am a sinner save by the forgiving grace of a loving Father who, upon my repentance, removed the sentence of death from me as I endeavor to honor His ongoing command that I “go and sin no more”.  Although all Christians are still flawed, that ongoing repentance and the embracing of going and sinning no more is the true and accurate hallmark and definition of Christianity.