Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Books with Bad Words


A few weeks ago I showed up at the library five minutes early for our Monday service project because I needed some reads. I scanned the shelves and found some familiar names. Down on the bottom shelf, I noticed a random title by an author I'd never heard of. He's a dude. And I never read dude fiction. But I liked the title, loved the cover art, and was sunk by the inside flap. I brought it home.

I brought it home and immersed myself in the world of Abraham Singleton, living in Ever, the projects, and I fell in familiar love. I know this kid.

As for me, I had done three things. One: I went to school. I sat like a piece of furniture in class. I stared out of the window, put my head down on the desk. I did my work when I felt like it. I passed it in rarely and most often never. I didn't raise my hand, not once. My mother, she whose sole responsibility was to love me unconditionally, proved I held less value than a small chunk of baking soda and cocaine. So what did I have to ask or contribute? So I had stopped talking. I had become mute.
- Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman

The funny thing about blogging is that it can sneak into your thoughts when it really doesn't have to. Just a few pages in I knew there was trouble because Abraham's family cusses like a cramped apartment full of Mobsters. Did I dare link the title over on my side bar? What if someone bought it blindly, on just my recommendation? They would be offended. They would be disappointed in me. They...they...they...

I decided I'd just write a disclaimer. They'll still be disappointed in me, but at least they'll know not to buy the book.

Then I kept reading. I couldn't read fast enough. I took it to the conference and after we'd stumble in at midnight, full of pizza and dreams, I'd pick it up and read until two in the morning. When it was time to check out, I opted not to put it in my bag because I wanted it out with me for the drive home. I wanted to be able to glance over and see it on the passenger seat. (weirdo alert)  

(In a strange twist, the previous decision actually caused me to accidentally leave it in the hotel room and pay to have it mailed back to me. It was a rough couple of days.)

It made me wonder, why did Christians decide to choose cussing as one of our top 3 worst sins? Because I'm telling you, I grew up believing that if a person said the d-word, they definitely needed Jesus. Pass the tract.

A few years ago, a church lady said, "We were at a football game last Sunday and the men behind me wouldn't stop cursing so I finally turned around and said, 'I'm a Christian, and I am offended by your language'. So even though I wasn't at church, I still felt like I was able to be a witness for Jesus!"

To put it feather-lightly, her stance didn't make sense to me. I'm quite confident that her personal offense did nothing to point those men to the Kingdom.

I had nothing to say, no song to sing. I owned not a single word, not a guttural syllable. No matter what I claimed, what I learned in school, how I loved to jump and run, how I played basketball for hours with friends, and alone in the dark of night against imaginary defenders, no matter how I watched TV for hours: I was not free. The absence of my creators enslaved me. And not just me; there were armies of brothers, so many children, like me. So I did what I had to do. I did what plenty of other brothers did too. I looked down, spit on the ground, and stopped myself from crying. Hell no; Lord knows, I would not break. From then on, I would be a dam; a dam that dammed a dam. Nothing would leak from me. Nothing would slip in. 
- Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman

I know that kid, the one talking up there. I have seen his pain and felt his fear. I've stood next to the dam and wondered who built it.

The more time we spend with people we have nothing/everything in common with, the more I'm overcome with compassion and fierce love for them. I want them in my face as much as possible. We ask that they not cuss around our kids, because the last thing I need is Silas carrying around a four-letter-word. For the most part, they're quite respectful, even without our asking. They tone it down about twenty-five notches.

But at the end of the day, I just don't give a rip. I don't want them to see a list of things about them that excludes them from our club. I don't want them to worry about a senseless hierarchy of sin the way that we do. I just think God has bigger fish to fry. If they can come to Jesus just the way they are, who are we to make stipulations?

This sort of thing just doesn't offend me. If it did offend me, it would also separate me from some of the people who need me most.

This was the effect of Ever, that even the strongest and most courageous and most blessed of us, even the most confident and willful, even the most brilliant were infected with a dangerous degree of self-doubt, that damn dankness that infiltrated bones. In worst-case scenarios, it caused us to aim ourselves at self-destruction. In best cases, we fought and clawed and used that seed to fuel our refusal to fail. 
- Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman

Suffice it to say, I've got opinions about this stuff. I'm sorry if you're disappointed.

But if you're interested in an extremely true-to-life glimpse of life lived in the Projects, if you want to be pulverized to your core, this story was beautifully, flawlessly rendered. It was told so well, in fact, that I had to force myself to remember that it isn't an autobiography. It's the kind of writing that makes me believe that I should hang it up and leave it to the pros.

Hold Love Strong paints a searing picture of urban American poverty. It starts to unwind some of the biggest tangles, it answers a few questions and leaves you with more. It was heart-breaking and raw. It was hard to read and impossible not to. It was Rated R, but you know what? There's a lot of Rated R out there waiting on us to pull our heads out of the sand and stop being a bunch of wimps. Their kind of ugly is really no scarier than our own.

95 comments:

  1. Sounds to me like I have another book on the docket to read. There is something refreshing about your candor, something stark and true when we choose to remove the veil of ignorance. There is no benefit for sticking our heads in sand, for once you surface for air, the problems you hide from are blatantly staring back at you.

    We are called to look at the ugly and find the beauty. Once again, your words give me something to think about......

    Thank you.

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  2. AMEN AND AMEN!!!! I can't stop reminding myself that people who don't know Jesus are going to act like they don't know Jesus and not to hold them to 'Christian' standards. Why should I be surprised or even offended by a sinner's sin, when they don't know that's what it is? God says love them all the same, so that's what I'll try to do.

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  3. I'm with you start to finish. I, personally, love cuss words. I try not to cuss in front of my children. I try not to cuss in front of those whom I know will be offended. But I do write the occasional cuss word, b/c--when used sparingly--they carry punch. And, sometimes, no other word will do what my well-chosen cuss word can do.

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    1. yep. see this. :) http://likethelove.blogspot.com/2012/01/proliferation-of-profanity.html

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    2. so, so agree with this one. i told someone the other day that i don't mind hearing a certain word, even say it when it is appropriate. sometimes it's the only word that makes sense. ha!

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  4. this is the kinda book review i want...added it to my amazon cart.
    thank you. i recently read a book to review for a christian publishing house and my #1 complaint was the lack of grittiness...it was "too clean and too christian".

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  5. Ok Wow gonna b real honest here and this is gonna be long I have your blog on my sidebar because Jen Kerschner said u helped her through the roughest time in her life and you have a great smile I also follow u on twitter and I know u don't know my history and it's to long to get into but when I saw your tag line for this post I made the ASSumption that u were gonna preach about books with bad words and how they offended u and well go down that road with this post and I was so prepared to cut you out of my existence with the click of the delete button - so first let me say I APOLOGIZE to you for making that ASSumption- seems it just made an ARS out of myself lol. I am so glad I decided to read what u wrote and don't for a minute think u should leave writing to the "professionals" writing is a gift that u are supposed to share- it is part of your path and journey.
    Can't wait to get this book and read it
    Thanks so much for more than you know.
    RaNae of Ewe Creek Cottage
    ps I am so new to twitter forgive me if I make tweet mistakes lol

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  6. Bravo! Cursing is the least of our worries, I think. In this day and age, everyone is so quick to point fingers. To say "you are not this" "you are not that" "you are wrong." I wonder why so many forget that Jesus didn't turn his back, but opened his arms instead. Opened them. Wide.

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  7. {{stands and applauds}}}. PERFECT, SPOT ON. Thank you.
    Sarah

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  8. I so love your heart. I do. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  9. You always make me think. Whether it's about tile, layering t-shirts, adoption, or faith....

    And you do it without sounding pompous, pretentious or pious.

    I love you about as much as a stranger can! (without being a stalker, I mean!)

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  10. I'm personally not a super sweary person. I find myself cringing if I'm forced to listen to it in large doses. It's not because I'm morally offended. Maybe it's because I grew up in a house where yelling swears at each other was an apparently acceptable way to fight and there is nothing about that, that I want to emulate.

    That being said, I once interviewed for a job at an Episcopal church with a priest that had a mouth like a sailor. Oddly, I found that refreshing.

    Your book sounds wonderful. Those passages immediately made my heart seize.

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  11. Oh boy. So so true. I have always wondered if cussing is actually a defense mechanism, designed to ward off people who would be offended by less-than-perfect (and who, really, is perfect? Jesus, and he doesn't look for it in others)
    Please never consider "hanging it up" . You have a real gift (and I do realize that you probably couldn't stop writing if you tried, but please never consider not sharing your thoughts!) I always go through your blog posts saying "yes!" because I get it.

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  12. thanks for the recommendation! this will be checked out soon:) my first, "kids are back to school sit on the couch and read all day" read! by the way, have you read the glass castle???? amazing true life story that rips out all stereotypes of poverty.

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  13. in light of my recent family situations, i especially like this. there's enough legalism out there... we don't need more! anyways, great review... duh! you're the best reviewer around!

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  14. I love this post- I think I actually said AMEN out loud! Absolutely brilliant- thank you!

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  15. Love this post...you would like Alan Hirsch's books, you sound just like him. Right now, I am reading Untamed, he and his wife Debra wrote it.

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  16. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for saying this.


    Lyndsey
    (www.gettingbusybeinggood.com)

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  17. I could not agree more. We must become offended by our own sin before we can love others out of theirs. ~Maria

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  18. Amen and bless your heart. You are so wise. I am going to read this book!

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  19. Hmmm, what to say? Well, I agree with you for sure but I do hate cursing!! I guess my beef is that most of the cursing I hear is from my husband's family and they claim to be Christians. I'm talking the "F" word in front of the kids. So much that one of the kids talks the same way. My son's girlfriend was shocked to hear a four year old use the "F" word but impressed he could use it correctly!! =O I "get" unbelievers cursing but just not Christians, specifically long time Christians. :) The book sounds great though. ;) And, your writing is so worthy of being published!! :)

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  20. Wow - I'm amazed that you found that book in your 5 minute quest.

    My favorite quote ever is Mother Teresa - "if you judge people you have no time to love them".

    As always, you've inspired me.

    xo ellie

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  21. That was a great big gust of fresh air, served up by one farmgirl I love to read. You are one of the pros!

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  22. When I was a kid, we weren't allowed to say bull, because my Mom said her brain finished it for her. Finally, when he was about 12, my brother told her that sounded like her problem, and she should pray about her dirty mind. Lead. Balloon. And still not allowed to say bull.

    I'm not sweary, either, but not in a judgy way, I hope. In our house, I tell my kids we try not to say "harsh" words to anyone. Because a word is only bad to them because I said it was. To me, it's more about the tone and attitude behind what's being said, even if you use a Christian-ese substitute swear word.

    I love your writing. No bull.

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    1. Yep. We were highly discouraged to use "oh my" anything, because it was a euphemism for taking the Lord's name in vain. I used to roll my eyes, because seriously? What about "For Pete's sake?" None of us knew Pete, and yet we considered his sake frequently. They're ALL euphemisms! Now that I have elementary age kids, I concede the point- I don't enjoy hearing my 9 year old shout "WHAT THE...?!" Blame my dirty mind. I try not to get too uptight, but I do tell them that using cuss words to describe is just being too unimaginative to come up with a better alternative.

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  23. What a great post -- I don't know that I've ever heard this point of view put quite this way before. Well done.

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  24. I found your blog just a week ago and i find your writing so refreshing. Thank you for having grace and giving grace.

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  25. If I went around eliminating all of the people in my life that use different words than me I'd be in the smallest circle ever with no one to witness to. Jesus doesn't want that at all.

    xxoo

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  26. I lived in a wonderful "hood" in the Wash D.C. area for 5 years--very mixed and loved being surrounded by people from all walks of life. Just across the street were the projects...and I enveloped those kids into my life, just the same as the cute little girls that hung out with me down the block. So I say this from "being there". It is not that we eliminate or exclude people from our lives because they have filthy mouths. That is NOT Jesus. HOWEVER....it also does not mean we stay silent on the matter! I learned that from these kids! You TEACH them. They WANT someone to care--they WANT someone to react. Much like the kid in your book....whose mother couldn't have cared less WHAT he said, or that he even said it! On the contrare...I think they NEED us to say, "Hey--let's not use that language..." they need to KNOW that while they are not "going to hell" for talking like that, they learn respect by you taking a stand on the subject matter. I had a guy, years later, tell me that every time he started to talk smack, he thought about my ONE comment to him those many years ago, and it stopped him in his tracks. And I was not judgemental, I was not pointing my finger...I simply made one comment, and we all carried on with the conversation...

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    1. I agree! With Shelly and with FPF! I live in the city of Baltimore and while I surely don't want to discourage kids from coming to Jesus because of some words they choose to use, neither do I want to join them in using them. They don't talk like that around me - there's not much need. We aren't talking smack, I'm trying instead to give them a safe place where someone cares about them enough that they don't have to cuss to be somebody. I'm busy trying to teach them things, to show them love, to give them a peek into how beautiful Jesus thinks they are and what value they have as his daughters. That doesn't leave a whole lot of room for cussing on my part, or much need on theirs. But it does crop on on facebook when the hurt is pushing hard at their door, and this blog post will remind me to extend grace when I see it.

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  27. I don't much understand or honestly even care for Christian's who's personal offenses are deemed of higher importance than showing genuine love for their neighbor. Like has been said already, why are Christians surprised when the darkness is dark? Maybe it's not so much surprise as a reminder of their own personal apathy toward a lost and broken world. Wouldn't it be nice if Christians put half as much energy toward the things that matter to Jesus and the Kingdom as they do to minor personal annoyances? Wouldn't it be nice if for a change, Christians actually gave a shit?!?

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  28. When an author is trying to help you understand a world different from your own, it makes perfect sense to describe it just as it is. How else will you get a true picture? Perhaps we would not be able to understand the necessity, depravity, etc without it. Though, I suppose there is the possibility a writer could paint the very same picture for you if they wrote even more skillfully and left out the swear words. At the end of the day it isn't the swear words that resonate within us, it's the human condition.

    I will say one thing that is true for me; the more I read swear words or hear swear words, the more likely I am to use swear words. And therefore, I try to avoid them. After awhile you realize, you don't need them. When it comes to our own lives as Christians, there is a fine line between living in the world and not being of the world. I am thankful for Christ as an example. Swear words never crossed his lips, nor mind. What perfection. And if it's him that I aim to be like, I will do my very best to follow his lead. And in the same breath also not get wrapped up in other people's sin, but love them through it and ask them to do the same for me. It would be a shame to let that be a barrier.

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  29. If we are so offended by those that are not like us, how can we show them love? How can we really love them.
    This review- and your thoughts on being real with others- resonates with me.

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  30. I grew up thinking tattoos and cussing were the worst. Not really from any specifics my parents said, but I just thought they were. I think I heard that the Bible said not to mark your body; I think that is mentioned in the Bible maybe one time. But as an adult, I think of all the ways I don't obey the other important things that are mentioned many times in the Bible, like love God and love my neighbor.

    Those words are often said with rage (that's where the damage is), but the actual history of profanity (the acronoyms that they form) brings those words down a notch and makes them less offensive as words.

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  31. You go girl!
    -CeCi Loves

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  32. great book recommendation....will add to my list.

    but. :) i'd cut that woman some slack from a few years ago. reading those words in a book, contextually makes sense. but having to hear those words at a football game, in public, that seems different. i don't think she did anything wrong by saying she was offended. i was once in a group where some swore, using the Lord's name in vain (do people still say it that way - ha?), and someone else spoke up and said he was sad when he heard the name of God spoken in that way because he loved God. anyway, poor description on my part, but it was well put. so, yeah, not sure if the woman you're speaking of pointed anyone to Jesus, but, maybe she made them stop for a second (in their own minds) to think of their words. maybe? anyway...just a few thoughts...i have a poor habit of not wanting anyone singled out and i felt maybe that woman was, maybe not.

    in peace.

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    1. I'm glad you said that. Grace can go towards fellow Christians as much as towards non-Christians, right?

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  33. Amen. Amen. Amen. "Their kind of ugly is really no scarier than our own." Good gracious me, Hallelujah. So glad to see this post.

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  34. I have added this to the list of things I need to load onto the Kindel. This is a great endorsement and a great thing to hear a Christian say. I agree, Jesus has bigger fish to fry than somebody dropping a curse word.

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  35. I just think as a general rule making a big deal out of any ONE sin is not the way to go. I have been stewing about the same thing for the last two years and it mostly has to do with any one person thinking they're better than any other person.

    We're all just a bunch of mistakes with feet, after all. :)

    Love this, Shan. You know what's important. And even though I only swear in the comfort (and quiet) of my garage so no one (esp. my kids) can hear me, it doesn't offend me the way some other behaviors do.

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  36. Everyone has "ugliness" and who are we to judge that. I've got this marked to be a next read. So many times we are surrounded with those that think as Christians we should act this way or that when in all actuality we should be ourselves because we are accepted by God no matter what or how we may be. So thanks. I'm so thankful I stumbled upon your blog.

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    1. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

      Your old life is gone. Swearing is gone. Your old way of living is gone. We can't live how we want anymore. It does matter how we live.

      Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

      We are called to holiness NOT GRACE.

      1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

      1 Peter 1:15-16 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

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  37. Yes, their ugly is no scarier than our own-LOVE that!

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  38. I think we (the church in general) have become so afraid to be slapped with the label of legalist that we've allowed the pendulum to swing all the way over to permissiveness and tolerance of sin.
    I think we should be offended by sin. God sure is. So much so that He has to be separated from it. Thankfully He loves us more than He's offended by us and He sent His Son to fix it. I think we have to do the same thing. We should be offended by sin but not the extent that we forget those sins belong to a person who needs a Savior.
    Paul said it a lot better than I can:

    Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

    But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

    For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

    “Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

    Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

    (Ephesians 5:1-20)


    We're supposed to do what Christ did and love people right where they are. Right in the middle of the dirty, nitty gritty of being human. But our lives should be imitating that of Christ so closely that there's distinct difference between His light in us and the sin of the world.

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    1. What I wonder is, why do so many of us have such a problem with swearing, but we don't have as big a problem with ignoring the mandate to love and care for the poor, the orphan, the widow? THAT's the bigger fish. That's the forest amid all the trees.

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    2. We should have a problem with it but fact of the matter is, it's easier to not swear than to actually invest time and energy and heart in people. So if you pick that as your token "atta boy" and pat yourself on the back for not being a potty mouth you can feel good and forget about the rest. Not that that's okay by any means but it's easy to do. Complacency at its finest.
      I don't think that loving the poor, orphaned and widowed is a bigger fish to fry. I think it's just a different fish. Just like we're commanded to love those around us just like Jesus does, we're commanded so many times to be careful with our tongues.
      It's a package deal. God didn't give us His Word with a multiple choice option. We don't get to pick which parts we obey. He wants all of us.

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    4. Well said, once again Kelly!

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    6. Kelly, you have given words so wise. Just as we can elevate one sin above another, I think we Christians can tend to elevate one "good work" over another. And if we are not careful, pride and self righteousness camouflaged will sneak in. We have to take the Bible as a whole, and the bottom line is that God calls us to be in different places at different times. Thank you for the scripture you shared. I think God's Word speaks volumes all by itself!

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    7. This discussion started in regards to Christians being offended by the language of non-believers, and I don't think we're really talking about that anymore, though that's okay.

      As far as the Big Fish comment, I think there IS a bit of a difference. When we allow our love for the rules to impede our ability to truly love another, or when we focus on the rules more than we focus on loving others, it's just not alright. We miss the big picture sometimes when we choose to flounder on the shores of rules.

      17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

      18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.”

      20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

      21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

      Incidentally, I think we need to be careful of dying on the hill of "cuss words". It's not that simple. We should never hurt others with our words. We should never take the Lord's name in vain (and that SHOULD offend us). We can all agree on that. Maybe that's where the conversation can linger for a while.

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    8. I'm not all up in the conversation completely, but we just went through these verses at church about 2 weeks ago. In that day and age, money and stature for a Jew meant "righteousness". Jesus was simply trying to turn it on it's head. Even if you're rich (righteous), it's NOT enough. NOTHING is enough to get you into heaven. You must LOSE EVERYTHING. "Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor" simply means, throw away the law and recognize my grace. I do think that it is important to love others, and that the poor and widows are among those! Though, not even the act of loving others, gets us to heaven or makes us righteous. It's not until we realize that we are worthless, hopeless, and unrighteous to the point we are so needing and desiring Christ's sacrifice and grace that we are saved.

      I'm not saying any one of you believes differently. I just love this passage, and have had it on my heart for 2 weeks! It's come up a few times in conversation, and now here it is again tonight (at least for me). Verse 25 was my fav. A rich (righteous) man getting to heaven is about as easy as a camel going through the eye of the needle. Amazing picture. I'm sure the audience listening to him during that time were completely SHOCKED to hear him say that. (maybe like a cuss word! gasp! ;) Jesus went around healing the poorest and most unrighteous! There is nothing we can do, and no "works" that are greater than others, we simply have to recognize our brokenness and accept His grace in order to be saved.

      And for the record, words are words, swearing is swearing, sin is sin. And my life right now is probably rated R too whether I want it or not. I wish people would stop worrying so much about what everyone else is doing and saying, and trying to prove they are "righteous"er. Though this is also, indeed, showing our hypocrisy, and a gift if we could recognize how much we need Him. They(me too!) appear the same as the Pharisees in the gospels, and need to listen to Jesus' words. Surely Jesus was NOT concerned with what they were "doing" or "saying" but with where their hearts were.

      (I apologize if this has nothing to do with the conversation, I just couldn't believe that passage had come up AGAIN! I love when He does that. :) I think when we miss the big picture of LOVE, it's missing out on the big picture of why we are in this life! We are here to steward what is His, and He gave us LOVE (John 13:35). Missing out on that big picture is unfortunate, and also poor stewardship.)

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    9. amen kelly! if my children are around, and someone is throwing the f bomb around, i will absolutely ask them politely to be contientious of their vocabulary. for me, it would present a stumbling block to others, and that in itself is a sin. should it be a huge line drawn in the sand? nope. but we shouldn't ignore one sin simply because there are bigger fish to fry. now, obviously, a christian cussing vs. a non christian's use of words -2 totally different things. we can't hold them to our standards, but must be salt and light.

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  39. Adding this book to my list on Good Reads as soon as I can type this comment….thank you for the recommendation! I'm teaching my tweens/teens that foul words are just words, but that people define you based on how you conduct yourself. I wholeheartedly want them to not use foul language out of respect for others, but I don't believe swearing is a sin - it's the hate that often accompanies the words that's the sin….right along with the self-righteousness that some people throw around in the name of God.
    Thank you for writing posts that make us all think and consider our own behaviors. Such a gift you have!

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  40. Amen, sister! You stirred up my Tuesday. Thanks for that!

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  41. first. i love those plants you have in the picture on this post. they are like fun little natural legos. you can pull them apart and put them back together. we have them in the forest by our house.
    second. i feel super strongly about your post today. it makes we wish we could have a sit down, heart to heart. the thoughts that you wrote have been swirling in mind as of late. this very morning I was thinking about what was meant by “love thy neighbor.” at the core. we should walk the walk and talk the talk. even if that means getting down and dirty with “different from us.” oddly, sometimes the ones that need love the most are not the most obviously needy. i am reminded on an almost daily basis that we are not the deciders of which sins are more offensible. we are so lucky to not be burdened with that task.
    have you read the book called the other wes moore?

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  42. This right here is all kinds of wonderful. I need some Abraham in my life. We all do.

    Never hang up that writing hat of yours, sister.

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  43. That woman you described who told the men not to cuss because she is a christian is exactly the reason we all get such a bad rap at times. I really hate when people use ""being Christian" to try to stop someone from doing something offensive to them personally. I hate the cussing, I don't appreciate it when someone cusses in front of my child. I hate it more because it is disrespectfull, not because I am a Christian. Do you really think God would tell someone to stop cussing because he is God? I don't think so. I don't have a problem asking someone not to cuss, but don't tack on the "because I'm a Christian" label. It immediately makes that person feel as if they are not good enough when in fact you are just as guilty of sin as they are.
    This sounds like an excellent book! Thanks for telling us about it, and thanks for the disclaimer as well, I like to know what to expect. :)

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  44. I'm glad you recommended the book. It sounds really good, thanks .p.s. I am a youth pastors wife and sometimes I like to say damn. cheers.

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  45. I LOVED that book, I read it a long time ago and think I might need to re-read it :-) Also, there would be no way to write an authentic account of the home life of one of my kiddos without including curse words. And authentic books are the best ones, right?

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  46. A thousand times yes to this post. I heard of a lecture once given by a prominent Christian speaker who used both the f-word and statistics regarding third world poverty in the same sentence. He was met with complete silence by the crowd, and his response was this:" How many of you were more offended by my use of profanity, than by the fact that there are people dying from poverty?"

    I think he deserved a standing ovation. We need to check our priorities. Do we want to love people into the kingdom or do we want to alienate them from it?

    And as a side note, I think we need to remember that God talks a heck of a lot more about slander and gossip than about whatever swear word is the flavor of the month.

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  47. How true. what offends us is a good picture of the condition of our hearts. We need to ask how we can love them and reach them, not how we can change them, THAT is God's job. I am sure Jesus heard a lot of unsavory words with men he walked with everyday.

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  48. Thanks for words that stir my heart and make me think...

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  49. I'm a Christian. I will never use God's name in vain. However, I don't believe in "cuss words". My whole life, I wasn't allowed to cuss. I didn't grow up in a "Christian home", but I was blessed to have read a Christian book series that led me to Christ. These "four-letter words"-we give them power they don't deserve. I use them to add emphasis to good things. When I'm with my best friends, where I know I'm safe and no one's gonna judge me for saying how f****** awesome something is, I AM NOT less of a Christian. Legalists, like some of the women in this comment section, are one of the reasons I'm leaving my Christian college this year for a secular school-are one of the biggest reasons why the Christian culture exasperates me-are one the reasons why I'm sometimes wary to say "I'm a Christian". Yes, we are new creations, but using the so-called "f-word" or "d-word" isn't sinning, sorry. No, this is not a fish that needs frying. Wow, if more Christian families were as hard-nosed about showing Christ's love to orphans and the homeless, we 'd really start leading colorful lives! We'd really start looking more like Jesus! So, please--enough w/this "no cussing" crap- a put-down is a put-down, regardless if it's calling someone "stupid" "retarded" "gay" "dumb" or using one of those scary "four-letter words" to do so. I recognize that this is an unpopular opinion, and I fully understand if my comment gets deleted. Also, I'm not perfect so sometimes I use "bad words" to emphasize bad things too--I slip up sometimes. But, even w/o those words, it's the negativity that's the real issue--not the words that the American church has given too much time in the spotlight. Uh-oh, did I just say I wasn't perfect?!?! Yes, I did. Praise be to Jesus. He f****** saved my life.

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    1. Oh, Jennifer. Lol. Sorry if my little asterisks offended you. My apologies :)

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    2. It wasn't your asterisks, it was your irreverence.

      Consider the real definition of the words you chose. You're also not even using them logically. It's shock and awe. That's what flippantly using profanity gets you; nothing productive. The vulgarity of them takes away from your enthusiasm and over all message. Christian families do need to be more hard-nosed about many, many topics, but they don't need to trade one wrong for another. The idea of profanity is all about crossing lines. We mistakenly think it's empowering and give way to much authority to profanity. We don't need profanity for emphasis.

      The fact that poverty is a worldwide epidemic that should get all of our immediate attention, money, energies doesn't mean that in comparison using profanity doesn't matter. Especially if our aim is to be like Christ. What a confusing message of a changed life we show to non-believers when we say it doesn't matter. (a slip-up while aiming to speak positively is one thing, a total disregard for wholesome speech is another.) Not to mention it's SO EASY.

      The answer isn't A or B or C. It's all of the above.

      So in response to FPFG's blog entry, I agree and disagree. Swear words should never be an obstacle in becoming someone's friend or a means of judgment on others. Neither should any other sin we see in them. We don't need to make profanity okay, though, because at the end of the day, it's not. In reality, we are much more capable people than settling for half best for ourselves.

      When someone uses profanity around me, it doesn't gravely offend me. I am pretty good at mental editing. I also understand, they haven't yet understood the importance of wholesome speech. That being said, I don't think it's wrong for someone to kindly ask another person to stop yelling profanity in a public place. I think it's safe to say nearly every adult on earth knows it's not appropriate. Furthermore, no one is incapable of withholding profanity. It's physically possible. Though, it may take some practice.

      At the end of the day: Christ came to earth, he didn't use profanity, he spoke with love, he did not gossip, he didn't use bad words to emphasize things, he rebuked those who needed it, he loved everyone from all walks of life, he spent time with them, he sacrificed himself to atone our sin, and we are asked to follow his lead. It's pretty clear and nothing we actually need to argue about.

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    3. Hi Jenny :)

      It seems like we will not see entirely eye-to-eye on this, but I just wanted to point out that I agree, there's nothing wrong with someone "kindly asking another person to stop yelling profanity in a public place". 100%, nothing wrong with that. My problem with the anecdote I shared was that it was done in an "I'm a witness for Jesus" manner, and I disagree wholeheartedly with that. Look, I don't want anyone swearing around my babies. I would probably have asked them to stuff a sock in it, too (kindly, of course) ;) but I would not invoke the "I'm a Christian and that offends me". Jesus just didn't go around being offended by non-believers. What offended Him most was legalists and a predominant refusal to embrace His primary charges to suffer along with the poor/widowed/orphans.

      As for cussing Christians, I might look at some angles a bit differently than you, but most of the time, I see swearing as a bit cheap and unintelligent. There are certainly more powerful ways of expressing oneself.

      Maybe part of the disagreement here is that I don't see all "typical" cuss words as vulgar. I think that's a personal opinion thing, not something clearly outlined in scripture.

      We can agree that harming another with our words is wrong. Taking the Lord's name is wrong. It is sin. Period. So see? We definitely do have some common ground. :)

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    4. Oh, and I'm not sure what caused me to default to shortening your name to Jenny???? Sorry. :)

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    5. Oh, I definitely think we have common ground FPFG. : ) I nearly completely agree with all you have said above. I would also not invoke the "i'm a Christian and you're offending me." I find the words and attitude behind them to be (sometimes) offensive not the person. I don't see the person as the curse word. Agreed. I do see your differentiation at how we ask others to refrain, especially around the kiddos.

      Can I just say how weird it was that so many misunderstood what you were saying and so many Christian women started posting profanity or referencing profanity in the comment section. I think that, more than anything, prompted my response. : )

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    6. Oh YIKES is right!

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  50. The Jesus I know, loves everyone. He gave his life for all of us. He spent his days here on the earth loving, serving, teaching... Showing us how to return to our Father in Heaven. He didn't just sit & talk with those who were perfect or un-touched by sin. He sat with the lowest. He talked to the children. He touched the sick with his hands to bless them. The same people who were banished because their loved ones were afraid to be by them. His love & acceptance was stronger than his fear or judgement.
    Some of my most rewarding experiences have been from people who I may have avoided because of the perception of who they might be. What is worse though, the choices that people make that are against our choice of living or the judgement that we place upon them? It think it is worse to judge. I'm sure that lady didn't appreciate the language that the dude was choosing, but her judgement with a high & mighty attitude was worse, putting herself above him. Being Christlike is so different than that. It cracks me up that her judgement & behavior was to "....be a witness for Jesus!" I haven't ever heard stories of Jesus saying, "I find....offensive & I'm Jesus!" Ha! He was loving, accepting, kind. Even when He was hanging on the cross, He was pleading on behalf of those who had done this to Him. "...forgive them Father, for they know not what they do...". If we are to take His name upon us, we need to know Him. We don't have to declare that we are a follower, just show it through our actions.
    I got a little distracted. Sorry. Thanks for talking about the book. I think it sounds awesome! I'm going to check it out for sure.

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  51. Hell yes! Teach it girl. Cussing is not a sin! Look it up, I read the book. Gods name in vain it's in there. F bomb not in there. Sorry to burst bubbles. Look in the book for yourselves

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  52. Hell yes! Teach it girl. Cussing is not a sin! Look it up, I read the book. Gods name in vain it's in there. F bomb not in there. Sorry to burst bubbles. Look in the book for yourselves

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  53. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Phil. 4:8

    I do agree that there are bigger fish to fry than someone's language, and we should stand up for what's right without making someone feel like they are less than we are. BUT - I disagree that it's acceptable for a Christian to cuss, and that cussing is not a sin. There's nothing pure, lovely or virtuous about dropping the "F" bomb.

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  54. My grandma used to say, "a few shits and damns never hurt anyone".

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  55. One time when reading the scriptures, I had a thought. It's a little different than what people typically think. When you become a Christian however you view that, whether it is born again or accepting Jesus or whatever, at that point you are taking His name upon you. Is taking His name in vain a matter of becoming a Christian just for others to see us & for our own vanity, or is it swearing? It made me step back and wonder if there is a deeper meaning than "just swearing".

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    1. I was given that understanding many years ago..there's always a deeper meaning to everything in the Bible...there's the letter of the word which brings death or the spirit which brings LIFE(zoe).The Spirit leads us into freedom for ourselves and others as we learn to love ourselves and others the way that Christ loves!!!We all know John 3:16 but we should also know John 3:17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

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    2. Thank you for your comment. : ) I have to agree.

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  56. We have missionary friends from Austrailia and when they spoke at our church, they dropped the f-bomb and the sh-bomb in front of the entire congregation. You could hear the crickets outside. It was their first time in the states and they had no idea that those were "American swear words". I think its funny that each society has its own set of bad words. What does God think of me when I, as an American, say the word, "bugger"....means nothing to me but may offend someone from Great Britain.

    And my "non-biblical" opinion on swearing....I love it when people challenge themselves to choose more creative, funny, or interesting words in place of cussin'.

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  57. thank you for the recommendation the quotes you posted were beautiful, I do love good books!!

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  58. Okay, I feel like I'm over at Lisa-Jo's five minute rambling Friday, but here's my take:

    I think this post is less about cursing (for the love, you aren't murdering your neighbor by throwing around an f-bomb when you stub your toe). I think it's about being real, and honest, and gripping the cross when there's nothing else left to hold on to. I think the frivolity in which many of us use term Christian is the real problem. We get so caught up in titles, and being proper, and living a life filled with church committees and cancer center galas that we forget that people are living an alternate reality. They don't eat fried chicken after church and laugh with their mamas and cuddle up in down comforters. The Frank McCourts of the world are told that Jesus died for their sins but their hands are beaten and their bellies are empty and the fleas bite at their scabby knees. What do we know of such pain? What do we know of such brutal nothingness as we drive to Whole Foods to pick up our spicy thai hummus? For this reason I think that we all speak different languages. Some are smooth and some are peppery. But I think God sees through it all and finds us where we are.

    Thanks for always digging. I love reading about your heart, and your actions that go along with it.


    Amanda over at hillpen

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