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.

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