A few weeks ago, I came across this blog post by Nate Pyle. It made for an excellent read and it totally resonated with me. Talking about the idea that “God never gives us more than we can handle” he made the following statement:
God won’t give you more than you can handle. If I may be so bold, let’s just call that what it is:
This created a firestorm. Apparently, many of his readers were appalled. And so he wrote a blog post about it.
I was surprised by this kind of reaction, because honestly, when I saw that word, I had the exact opposite reaction. My first thought was “YES! Thank you for stating it so succinctly and calling it like it is.” I found it refreshing and honest, not horrifyingly un-Christian-like.
This concept of “appropriate” language is something I have struggled with as both a writer and a Christian. As a writer, I’m compelled to call it like I see it. I don’t want it watered down, and I don’t want to skirt the issue. Sometimes, the only words that can precisely capture the moment are curse words. But then the Christian in me says things like, “You can’t use those words! You’re not being a good witness! What will other Christians think? Do you think you’re setting a good example?” And so, sometimes I’m forced to either apologize for the language I use or water it down which frustrates me to no end. I thrive on writing honestly and clearly… watering it down nearly kills me.
So, how does one balance being a writer and being a Christian? The writer in me balks at using words like “Doo-Doo Head” and “Meanie”. Does it make me less of a Christian when I use “jackass” instead of “jerk”? Do I take my faith less seriously when I use “Bull Shit” instead of “Donkey Excrement”? I don’t think so, but I’m sure a lot of Christians do. I’m sure a lot of Christians would question my faith and call my behavior un-Christ-like.
To clarify, I’m not condoning the use of profanity. I’m not saying we should just spew forth whatever curse words we can come up with just because we can. I rarely ever swear. I don’t like it. I recoil at people who use cursing as a crutch – where every other word must create shock and awe. I hate it and I think it’s gross. However, in my writing, there are times when a curse word perfectly fits the situation and watering it down would simply not carry the same effect. Does that make me less of a believer? Or does it just make me an easy target for the morally superior, quick-to-judge-and-condemn Christians?
Mr. Pyle put it perfectly.
The Bible does not try to pretty up the facts. It is raw and edgy and reports history as it is. For me, this makes it extremely believable. I can relate to it. I cannot relate to a world in which the only frustrated speech allowed is Ned Flanders gobbledegook. We can substitute all the approved words and nonsensical sounds for words we label as profane, but often times the sentiments behind those words is nothing different. Words mean nothing without the sentiment behind them. And if the sentiment is the same, then why not use the word? Or saying it another way, you can be just as obscene and profane using words considered to be decent.