Christians who curse...and other unsavory sins.
I have not been a Christian my entire life. Well, I was a nominal Christian. Meaning I wasn’t born Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist. We had trees in our house every December and baskets with malted milk balls showed up in the spring. I occasionally went to the Methodist church down the street when my mother had what I can only imagine was a spiritual awakening. It wasn’t really a bring-down-the-rafters Praise God and Hallelujah kind of place. It was more a somber, a cappella-like-a-Zen-Buddhist-monk-chant of Praise God from whom all blessings flow kind of place. My mother had me baptized when I was five. I was up at the altar with the babies, and the thing I remember most was that I hated the dress with the yellow ribbon my mother made me get, because I wanted the one with the blue.
The point is, I didn’t grow up church-y. Plus, I grew up in northern New Jersey. Put those two together and it makes for an interesting experience when I sit around a table with people who grew up in the church-i-est of the churches.
Primarily, because I curse.
I curse a lot.
My parents did it and I do it, too. My father is a Bronx Irishman who pronounces theaterthe-ATE-a after all. I am always just a little bit frightened that at any moment a string of curse words will fly out of my mouth with abandon when I’m sitting around a conference room table with my church-y friends, who are altogether awesome but have never heard me in all my glory.
I’ve really tried to stop. I try to give it up to God all the time. I try surrendering to the Holy Spirit, I try plain old will power. And the minute I commit to never cursing again, out comes a string of obscenities that would rival any truck driver, football player or New York City taxi driver.
I don’t really curse at people (unless I’m driving and they can’t hear me. Or maybe when I’m talking behind their backs. Because yeah. I do that too. I think I suck at being a Christian.).
Primarily I curse at things that don’t work. Electrical outlets located in ridiculously hard to reach locations when I can’t figure out the way the plug should go in. When I open the freezer door and the whole of its contents come tumbling down upon my person like an avalanche. My stupid iPhone when Siri apparently has decided to reorganize my contacts for some inexplicable reason and suddenly my husband’s phone number is gone. Because I have become so dependent on the stupid thing that I have no idea what my own husband’s phone number is.
I’ve never felt the need to say “aaassss-phalt” as a sneaky way to say “ass”. After all, the word appears in the King James version 87 times. So yeah, I’m calling people a donkey. I never said, “Oh, shitake mushrooms,” when I was angry, either. I hate mushrooms. They’re gross.
I’ll never forget the time I realized that some Christians are offended by the word ”crap”. Oh, crap, I thought. I say crap when I’m trying not to curse.
The funny thing is that sometimes people feel like they need to not curse around me. I think it’s because I’m on staff at my church. The other day I was meeting with a member of the church and he said, “Shit!” then looked at me and apologized. We were in his place of work and one of his staff members were there. I laughed and said, “Oh don’t worry. I’m a Christian who curses.”
“I know a lot of those,” he laughed.
“Well, now you know one more.” I don’t think his staff member quite knew what to make of us.
It’s not just the habit I struggle with. As a writer, I truly believe that there are times that a well-placed f-bomb just does the job better than a weaker word. This probably demonstrates my limitations as a writer, but I can’t help it. I still think it’s true. Part of the reason I think my writing is weak is because I am often only about 80% truthful. A lot of people would probably stop talking to me — or maybe continue not talking to me — if I were 100% truthful. I think I’m going to write an essay about what would happen if I wrote truthfully. Anonymously, of course. My point is, if I were writing truthfully, I would probably curse a lot more and not worry if I offended anybody.