By: Jana Greene
The office was silent, except for the gentle clicking of keys and an occasional throat clearing. I took a bite of the carrot I’d brought for a snack.
CRRHHRUNCH. The sound echoed through the open space filled with short-walled cubicles. I had no choice but to finish chewing, each bite resonating.
“This is one crunchy-ass carrot,” I said awkwardly, without thinking – and to no-one in particular.
And then I felt guilty. The whole office knows I’m a Christian, and Christians don’t curse, right? Real Christians don’t.
It’s difficult to exist in a work environment 40 hours per week without saying a naughty word. And….is “ass” a naughty word? Any fourth-grader can tell you that the words “ass” and “hell” are in the Bible. I suppose it depends on the context, since carrots don’t have asses, per se.
I’m a wordsmith. Sometimes, when I weave words, a strand of metallic thread makes its way into the fabric of a story. It can get pretty shiny, what with all those threads.
Sometimes, it is just pure laziness when I resort to the four-letter-genre. The societal standard for what constitutes a curse word is always changing.
Curse words are fuzzy territory to me, as a Christian – I know they shouldn’t be fuzzy. We aren’t supposed to say offensive words, period. But what is offensive, and to whom? The Bible also warns against saying, “by heaven or earth….,” but every translation of this verse is slightly different.
I have a slightly salty tounge, which I try to tame on occasion. Hey, I’m working on it.
Once, while trying to reign in my language, I tried substitute a particularly virulent word (said mostly in frustrating situations) with “mercy.” For a two-week period, I refrained from said Big Daddy Curse Word, and instead, said “mercy. …until my husband remarked that I sounded a lot like his aunt, whose most favorite word in the universe is “mercy.” This aunt is a lovely Christian woman, 80 years old, and I’m sure she has never said either “ass” or “hell,” even in passing, unless reading scripture. (If “by heaven and earth” is not biblically acceptable, what about “mercy?” I mean, if we are going to be legalistic.)
But I am not a lovely 80-year old Christian. I am a 40-something recovering alcoholic with three daughters, a full-time job, a passion for Jesus and recovery, a red-headed temper, and an occasionally salty tongue.
All of this wondering about potty words reminded me of a post I’d read by favorite blogger, Jon Acuff, about the subject. He is much more astute in his observations (and much funnier, I might add.)
“Christians occasionally swear. They don’t do it a lot. I’m not talking about thirty-second tirades laced with profanity. I just mean that every few days they’ll say a swear in the middle of a conversation. Why do we do it? I think we want you to know that we know those words exist. We want you to be aware that we are aware they are out there and we know what they mean. Plus, everyone knows that swears are nineteen times more powerful coming out of the mouth of a Christian. That’s a scientific fact right there. If you’re a nonbeliever and swear a ton, it’s just not that big of a deal. If you’re a Christian though and you swear, birds fall out of the sky. Trees shake to their roots. Magma gets fourteen degrees cooler under the crust of the Earth. Wielding that kind of power is too tempting to ignore.”
Mercy! Jon Acuff is one funny-ass writer.
And I mean that with the utmost respect.