Potty mouths

I feel like maybe stepping on some toes tonight, and since I seem to be so adept at it, I’ll give it a go. By the way, I managed to do that quite largely when I visited Chorale last week. I mentioned something about drinking, just as an example of an IWU rule which isn’t as bad as it seems–only apparently 5 or 6 people have been booted from IWU (and Chorale) because of that very thing. Looks like the reputation I built as Chaplain is safe for a while longer.

My spiritual journey has been interesting in the past few months, and particularly since I started working at a church. Of all the places I expected my belief system to be challenged, that wasn’t very high on my list. It hasn’t been so much challenged on a dogma level (the things which we must hold to if we call ourselves a Christian), and has only moderately been challenged on a doctrine level (the beliefs which seperate Lutherans from Wesleyans, and Baptists from Methodists), but it has been radically challenged on a personal values level. After growing up in the center of religious legalism, now I am in one of the more religiously liberal parts of the country. And it’s interesting.

In order for us to all be on the same page, I’m going to admit something to you. In the last two months, I’ve began using curse words on a much more frequent basis than ever before. Up until the last year of college, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I had used certain words in my life. Then the stretch for graduation came and I would guess that I doubled up on that number. In the last couple of months, I would have to keep a physical tally to know how many. I can easily point to certain influences in my work place and lay the blame, but I think it has little to do with what they say and a whole lot more to do with where they have placed their personal values. It’s no different than my housemates choosing to have a beer or wine with dinner. Both of these things are cause for being permanently removed from a church in Indiana, yet here they come without a second thought.

Which brings me to my point. What makes using curse words unacceptable? Is it a specific precept that says “don’t use &*#(, &#^, &#^*, or *#&(@”? Nope. It’s a man-made rule. Is there a specific passage that tells us having a beer with dinner is a sin? Nope. It’s a man-made concept. Originally I wanted to quote you 1 Corinthians 10:23, which is they widely used (and widely mis-used) verse about everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. But in the next verse, Paul writes “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Here, no one seems to really have a problem if I want a glass of wine with dinner. And really honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it. And if I’m 25 feet in the air climbing on the rails of a scissor lift and it sways more than I expected it to, enough that my body starts pumping adrenaline because I thought it was falling, and I say it scared the hell outta me, there’s nothing wrong with that. And believe me, I’m drawing from personal experience on this one.

I’m going to go out on a limb a guess that no one had a problem with accepting the fact there’s nothing wrong with consuming alcohol. While I’m out there, I’m also going to guess that most of you disagree that there’s nothing wrong with cursing. And therein lies my dilemma. Here, it’s acceptable. No one is struggling with the fact that I may curse on occasion if it’s warranted. No one is losing sleep over my choice of beverage. So let’s say that over the course of however long I live in Washington, I decide I’m going to place my personal values in such a place that I do these things on occasion. What happens when I come home?

I can only imagine some of the reactions I would get from people back home. Certainly if I ever said a bad word in front of them, I would no longer be a Christian. No Christian says those words. And in Indiana, they’re right. Christians don’t use those words. But it’s a byproduct of legalism, not of scripture. (I remember not being allowed to say the word “fart” when we were growing up. How ridiculous is that?) How do I position myself now? It is truly wonderful to be away from the bondage of legalism, believe me it is. Wesleyans should try it some time. But what happens in the different context? Do I subject myself to personal legalism just so that everyone feels happy when I come home? That doesn’t really seem right either.

To put your minds at ease, I have no intention of cursing like a sailor, or drinking like one. I’ve never been a fan of people who curse excessively, and I certainly have no desire to get to a point where I use words unconsciously. Actually to be honest, the whole reason I like using them is because, when used properly, they become a very effective tool for communication. I bet you remember that phrase I used earlier, don’t you? You wouldn’t if I had just said the lift scared me. But tangent aside, I want to wrap this up by saying that I have in no way come to any sort of clear understanding about this issue. It’s late, I’m tired, and I didn’t really feel like writing tonight. Normally when I write poorly it evidences itself by a lack of comments, but I’m hoping the subject will make up for the style.

I bid you adieu.

I was eleven words short so I needed to write something else.