I don’t remember the exact words, but they were something to the order of, “Rattle, frattle, ricken, schmicken”. As a child those words always mystified me. Why did Fred Flintstone grit his teeth and utter unfathomable incomprehensible verbiage whenever he got hurt or upset?
To a child, cursing is something of a novelty that could make us feel like adults, or get us slapped upside the head. Growing up in a Christian family, potty mouths were not tolerated. Except on rare occasions when I would be flabbergasted to hear mom throw out that short little utterance associated with excrement. That was a rarity, but it could happen. I did learn at a young age that there are certain fingers one does not extend to their mother, even if they don’t know what it means. And the day that I decided to try out the new word I’d learned at school in front of dad became a very painful experience.
Maybe that’s why us boys in fifth grade tittered about the fact that certain verboten syntax could be found in the old Merriam Webster.
The problem with swearing is not so much the word as it is the intention behind the word. It seems to be a rite of passage that makes us feel like we’re big boys or girls. We go for the potties when we want to demonstrate to the world that yes, “I’m an adult now!”. Big whoop.
A young man named McKay Hutch, a junior high student from South Pasadena, California, has had it with fellow students who constantly let cuss words rip. So, he formed the No Cussing Club. As a result, he’s been featured on every major network as well as Dr. Phil (not one known to be of the most saintly tongue). Also as a result, he’s received death threats, angry emails, and other forms of intimidation. It’s interesting that people who want to exercise their presumed freedom of speech don’t want to extend it to poor McKay.
That happens often in the world of the Christ-follower. Most folks want us to shut up and do it there way. “Don’t tell me how to live… let me tell you how to live!”
But back to the issue of cursing. We often forget that our freedoms have limits and restrictions. We are NOT free to do or say as we please at all times. Want proof? Try making a threat to the president. Try yelling “movie” at a fire station. Or something like that. And see what happens if you drop the big-bomb word on a live telecast. Oops. We also realize that there are restrictions that we ourselves place on our own language use. I’ve been there when someone lets a blue word slip out in my presence, then says, “Sorry pastor, pardon my French”. I find myself wanting to point out that it isn’t French. Besides, why should they try to paint a different picture of themselves for me than for others? Could it be there is guilt attached to certain words?
In most cases, it’s isn’t the word, it’s the intention. Good behavior is never out of style. As a Christ-follower, I find swearing to be morally offensive. After all, it’s far to easy to go to Hell without someone encouraging you to do so. And why is it a society that gets all up in wads about not offending Muslims by profaning Mohamed find it easy to use the name of God as a curse? I’ve never heard someone offer as an expletive, “Mohandis H. Gandhi on a Popsicle stick!” When someone desires to “damn” something (place a curse of eternal damnation upon…), you don’t here them use the name “Buddha” as a pre-cursor so to speak.
This isn’t my first blog on this topic, but it does continue to be a topic that presents itself to my attention. So to McKay, I say, “Keep up the good work”. Sure, it’s like throwing coins into a wishing well. But when someone comes to the public realization that we don’t have to be childish to be an adult, it’s always a blessing to someone. The larger lesson for us all, though, is even if we don’t swear, we can still speak with evil intention. Good words used in anger can become just as evil. Even if we’re just saying, “Rattle frattle schmattle schmicken…”