Monday, March 18, 2013

Fifteen Days of Gratitude 15.2: CHRISTIANS WHO SWEAR (See also "F*$#!")

 ***Disclaimer: This post contains adult language. :) ***

Last week as I was contemplating gratitude, I made a 'stream-of-consciousness' style list of some nouns I'm grateful for (there aren't just things on this list so I'm trying to be PC, lay off me). I'll show you an excerpt of this list:

So, as you can see, there are a lot of random nouns here. I'm grateful for all of them; but this particular blog is going to be dedicated to item #4: Christians who swear.

This may not make any sense to you. In fact, this may be the most offensive post I write for many of you. But I suspect more people will agree with me, even though you may not want to admit it. I recall with fondness a particular friend from the Christian university I attended, and a particular conversation we had wherein we discussed the topic of swearing, and more specifically, women who swear. The only important part of the conversation went something like this:

Super Christian Friend: "I don't know why, but a girl becomes instantly less attractive to me when she swears."

Now... what I wanted to say was: "I totally f***ing agree."

But I didn't say it.  I was afraid of becoming less attractive. What I said was something unimaginative and beige, along the lines of "Mmmmm." If I could go back and repeat the scene, I would say it. Why would I say such a terrible thing? Because I like people who swear. I really just do. 

Now don't misunderstand me. I don't enjoy gratuitous, needless expletives. I think that, more often than not, it belies poor self control and lack of imagination/vocabulary. And yet... there is something about an otherwise decorous, articulate, spiritual person who knows how to drop an F bomb when they, oh I don't know, slam their head into a cabinet while unloading the dishwasher or stub their toe (which is freezing cold) on the corner of a door. I don't know exactly what it is... it's endearing. My ex-boyfriend hated swearing. I didn't do it much. In fact, the only time I do it is when I'm angry. Or when I'm trying to annoy someone like Hilary Faye from the movie "Saved." One time, during an argument, he made an statement that was completely untrue. I was so appalled and enraged by this lie that all I could think to do, in the heat of the moment, without forethought or self-control, was sputter:  "That is bullshit and you know it!"

He got very quiet and said sternly, "Don't ever swear at me again." (I also have a theory that there is a difference between swearing at someone and swearing in a statement directed to them. Don't ask why I've needed to put that theory together.)

He was using the fact that I'd said "bullshit" to deflect attention away from the fact that he was, in fact, actually full of shit! The nerve.

The thing that sucked was that in that moment, I was aware that I'd lost the high ground. But only in his eyes (and maybe yours. Oh well. We can talk about it if you like). He was the stereotypical "pastors kid", artful in the rules of bobbing and weaving, aware of what you could and couldn't get away with in the church community, knowing how to do bad things while still maintaining this aura of holiness. That annoyed the ... you guessed it, the shit out of me. (I'm not saying all pastors kids are like that. That would be absurd. I know too many amazing PK's to make a blanket categorization like that, but please lets not ignore the fact that the stereotype exists for a reason!)

Anyhow, that experience is not unique in my history. I had acquaintances in bible college who were quasi-amused/horrified to hear me mutter obscenities under my breath when I realized I'd slept through a class, spilled diet coke on my favorite shirt, etc. I get it. But can I just say this: the thing I found most upsetting was the fact that those who were most "offended" by my word choice were, coincidentally, the most vicious gossips. All I could think was... you object to my cursing? I'll stop swearing when you stop tearing others down behind their backs, criticizing minutiae, telling peoples secrets, and discussing other peoples failures.

Sure, I bet that sounds a lot like justification. It might be. Believe it or not I have wrestled with this issue. I ask God to help me stop swearing when I'm upset... and I come up with seemingly innocuous little utterances that I can use as a substitute for profanity: "Oh my word!" "Well doggone it!" And I'm always proud of myself when I manage to conquer that moment of impulsive outburst. But the thing I cannot do is acquire an offense. I actually thought for a time that if I could talk myself into being offended by swearing, I wouldn't do it. But you know something? I don't like people who are easily offended, and I don't want to be like that. I don't know how to have that response. Working in a restaurant pretty much beats any hint of delicate sensibility out of you. 

I have been a Christian my whole life. I have sincerely loved Jesus my whole life. I didn't really have a rebellious streak at any point when people normally exhibit that sort of behavior. Being brought up in a home virtually free of pretension and judgment allowed me to continue to love Jesus despite the innumerable experiences I've had which make me want to rebel: in mega churches, tiny churches, Christian camps, Christian schools, missionary organizations, any Christian-y, saturated environment you can think of... where I felt so critiqued and unwelcome that I can't help but think... it's a damn good thing Jesus is so amazing, because sometimes Christians are assholes. Does that offend you? Think about why. I'm sure you may have an explanation. I know all the Bible verses that can back you up, too. Quit shoulding all over me.

We criticize because we don't feel secure. That's like Psychology 101. But as Christians we should have every security in the world. Hello! It's called grace. We can't earn it. Impressing YOU isn't going to gain me points in God's sight. So grateful for that. I'm not saying that swearing is a good thing... but there are worse things to do with your words! My pastor once said "A swear word a day keeps the religious spirits away." And when I hear someone mutter a profanity... somehow I feel more relaxed around them. I don't know what to say about that. It just is. It's like the quickest way to ascertain whether a person is performance-oriented. I'm tired of performing, and I'm not interested in convincing people that I'm a good Christian. Perfection isn't relatable. There aren't any good Christians. I'm just a child of God. We're all His favorites (even the ones who don't love Him back!) So quit being so damn judgy, and watch this video. 


Teresa Beukers said...

I am so offended... NOT!!!!!!

I love it... was just talking about this very topic today...

Love ya!

HM said...

Thanks Teresa! SO curious to know what your conversation was about! x

Joel Glenny said...

Laugh My Ass off!!!' hahaha this is sheer greatness!!! You ha me rolling as soon as I saw "Christians that swear," half way down your notes! I couldn't help but to think where and what you were doing/thinking about when you wrote that down! And then the best, a quote I will forever keep in my back pocket- "it's a damn good thing Jesus is so amazing, because sometimes Christians are assholes!" oh dear, I hate that you just one up'd the shit out of me! I love how swearing right now seems so appropriate! You are killing me in the best way in this! I don't know if half the people reading this get how funny this is to me! Being a PK, I have seen this my whole life! Lol oh dear!

HM said...

Joel! I thought of the Glenny clan when I was writing about PKs and you were one of the reasons I wrote my disclaimer on PKs! You guys are gems, and I didn't one up you! In fact after I read your blog on Pain I was like, crap. NOW what am I gonna do!?

Saint Schizophrenia said...

Hang out with me for a bit and I'll test how far your thankfulness goes. ;)

glennygirl said...

How did I manage to miss this?! I'll never forget the first time I heard my father swear. I thought the end of the world had arrived. We were late for church...haha go figure. I was running out the door and he was impatiently waiting. He yelled at me as I hit the sidewalk 'rachael watch out for that shit and get in the car' haha. Thank you dad for the warning.

Genius H. Genius. I loved this!