Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Cussing Lite from a Cussing Heart


In every culture certain words are considered to be profane and individuals use them to either express themselves in what they consider to be the strongest way possible, or in such a way that is intended to shock or buck the established authority. At the same time, words of this nature often find their way into regular usage by those who don't have the education to express themselves in creative ways. Others simply enjoy speaking in a vulgar way. Sadly, when a particular group uses language in this way and has influence in the culture at large, then that which was once unacceptable in the main becomes acceptable in the same. Certain words that were once taboo are now used regularly and indiscriminately by otherwise cultured adults.

Unfortunately, this trend is not relegated to adults alone. Al Mohler reports, "These days, it's getting harder and harder to shock, as curse words fall into general use -- even among the young." He cites an article by Marlon Manuel of the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" which lamentably asserts that kids are artful in their use of curse words. Moreover, their parents accept their foul language as normal. Just as bad, if not worse, "Manual suggests that many very young children have adopted what he calls 'Cussing Lite' -- a list of words that are clearly offensive, but will not get you sent home from school. Many parents seem to see this trend as an acceptable compromise." Manuel observes, "Vulgarity -- like other things labeled out of bounds -- has long held a coolness factor for kids and cultures. But when the real word is too much, the watered-down one still carries enough panache for the tween and under-10 set."


That's a good term: "Cussing Lite." Sadly, cussing lite is part of evangelical culture among adults and children alike. This reality is particularly grievous because sin is never a mere issue of that which is external; rather, it is always an issue of the heart. Cussing lite is an expression of sin in the heart. After all, it was our Lord Jesus who said out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The apostles James warns us to control our tongues for they are set on fire from the pit of Hell.


Why do Christians allow their children, and perhaps themselves, to be so cavalier if not downright supportive of such wickedness? Part of the problem lies in the fact that most do not even realize how sinful such practice is. How focused we are on works of the law even when we affirm the reality of grace. In other words, if we do not say the actual word, we feel as if we have kept the law and we have not sinned in God’s sight. I heard a well-respected Christian pastor say from the pulpit recently, "that sux." Surely we are not ignorant as to the connotation of that word and yet it is used pervasively by evangelical Christians. Brethren, this ought not be.


How grieved I was this past summer to see kids on a local swim team outfitted with new swim caps. Emblazoned in bold letters on the side were the words "freakin' fast." Again, we all know what the word "freakin" means and yet, we say it or allow it without a second thought. Where is concern for personal holiness in such language? Where is concern for the glory of Christ in such language?


After a recent admonishment from us, our daughter asked us, "Well, what can I say then?" We replied, "Nothing." Any expletive no matter how benign is an unbiblical response to one's circumstances. We are to be content with God's providence in our lives and praise Him for His grace. There is no place in the Christian life for cursing of any sort whether for emphasis, shock value, rebellion, or something to say after hammering one's thumb. We are to put anger and rebellion out of our hearts and replace such with peace and submission.

Unfortunately, Mohler reveals more: "Meanwhile, another controversy over language is forming in Scotland, where the Scottish Parent Teacher Council has argued that educators often 'overreact' to the use of profanity by school-age children. A school in England announced recently that it would allow children to curse up to five times per lesson without sanction -- even using the worst vulgarities imaginable."


He quotes form "The Scotsman," "I don't think we should go round swearing all the time. But in particular the 'F word' has become such a common thing in language that, yes, people should be made to think about it. But if you overreact you are less likely to be effective in stopping it." Mohler then comments: "The lunacy of this approach should be evident to all. Is the teacher to keep a list of children and their curse words of the day by frequency? Why is five the limit? What comes next, five passes on cheating, lying, hitting, and playing hooky?"


Mohler is right here of course. I might add that this type of thing is the natural progression and result of cussing lite. Once the substitute is accepted without so much as the bat of an eye, the real thing can't be far behind. We have misunderstood the nature of what we have allowed, the nature of human sinfulness, and the inevitable result of those misunderstandings. We have also lost the nerve to call sin what it is and deal with for what it is: just that, sin.


The Lord is grieved over cussing lite. He is grieved when people say the accepted word while laughing in their hearts because they've said something that is offbeat but won't really get them in trouble. It's akin to the denials of having sex uttered by our former President before a Grand Jury. It's akin to winking at God as one watches porn only with his wife. It's akin to crossing one's fingers. Furthermore, it won't be long before the kids at Furman University substitute the real thing for their "F/U" chant at the football games or the folk who say "Jeese" feel the need to "really" take the Lord's Name in vain. That's the nature of sin. It will take you further than you thought you wanted to go.

Mohler aptly quips, "Remember when parents expected the schools to require children to behave, to learn, and to obey? Well, those days are long gone. It's enough to make you want to curse -- but don't." Agreed. And, I would go one step further. Let's deal with the issues in our hearts so that we won't be tempted to curse, and then teach our children to do the same for their joy and God’s glory.


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