Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?

Today my brother asked me if I thought saying the "F" word is morally wrong. We had watched In Bruges the night before, and that movie says the "F" word probably in every scene. Jacob, Karolina, my brother and I all found the movie hysterical. Maybe my brother felt a bit guilty for laughing at that type of humor. Maybe that's why he asked.

I answered that cussing is only as wrong as you make it. Fuck, damn, shit, etc- these are just words. They have dictionary meanings and then they have the meanings we give them when we use the words as cuss words. In themselves, these words are not wrong.

Galatians 5:20 includes fits of anger in its list of "works of the flesh", or sins which are natural to fallen man. So if one curses in a fit of unrighteous anger, then yes that is wrong. Most of the time people do bark out these words in selfish anger, but really, I say that the anger is wrong, not the words. I could call someone an imbecile out of anger, and that would be just as wrong as calling him a shit head. It's the force that drives the words that is wrong. 

I find that when I say these words, most of the time I am at most, annoyed. I don't use the words to insult people. Most of the time I use the words humorously, around people who also find it humorous. Really, it's connected to the humor in sarcasm. People tend to be jokingly hyperbolic, and they may use a curse word to this effect. If I use the words to insult someone who has angered me, then I am wrong. If I use the word in a derogatory and disrespectful way, then I am wrong. If I use the words around someone who is offended by my use of them, then I am wrong. Christians are called to be peace makers, and to love others. However, I do not believe that Christians are under legalistic list of laws. We walk in the Spirit and are not under the law. We use discernment, wisdom, in making decisions about our words. 

As we make decisions about our words, it is important to be creative. Words are fantastic, and there are so many of them. In my life, I know I am not nearly as creative as I could be with my use of words. As we communicate in colloquial language or artistically, we should try and use words that are interesting. It gets monotonous hearing people use the same few words to describe everything. This is one way in which cursing can be, not wrong, but just annoying. When people use these cuss words as an adjective for everything. The world is much more complex than that- so we should use interesting language to describe this complex place and everything in it. 

But words are words. I concluded to my brother that it is the motivation behind your use of these words that can be morally wrong. As words are powerful, we should be careful and creative with our use of them. I am not offended by casual use of curse words, but when people curse to insult, or out of selfish anger, this is when I find it most offensive and morally wrong. 

In the case of In Bruges, they mostly use the words to be over the top, and therefore funny. Also, "fuck" is not nearly as offensive in Europe as it is in the States, so I have heard. So given American cultural contexts, I am not promoting an excessive use of curse words, since you will offend people in that way. I don't want you to be unnecessarily offensive. I am saying that we shouldn't be prohibited from using the words sometimes, because they are not wrong in themselves.

P.S.- If you have not watched In Bruges and you enjoy dark comedy, watch it as soon as possible!

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