As Christians, let’s move past the curse of the holidays

Cursing someone out – anyone – but especially your spouse or children - is not okay, under any circumstances, for any reason. Profanity is often excused by saying, “Oh, that’s just the way he or she talks. They don’t mean any harm.”

As Christmas Day fast approaches, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is full on – and for so many of the “wrong” reasons.

Check your news feed. Instead of being patient and loving one another, there’s name-calling, quick tempers, road rage, gift-buying that we really cannot afford, and more. For many, the real “reason for the season” is totally lost in a sea of commercialism and flat-out bad behavior.

Just today I saw a woman airplane passenger go viral for all the wrong reasons – she ripped out a computer monitor and threw it at a gate agent at Miami International Airport while sharing some choice words. The reason – her kids had walked away from the gate without telling her. (Somehow, that was the gate agent’s fault.)

She caused $10,000 in damages, hurt the gate agent’s shoulder and was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, and aggravated battery.

When will we stop rationalizing bad behavior? When will it stop being considered okay when it’s not okay? There are so many examples but let’s just single out one – for now. Let’s talk about cursing.

Cursing someone out – anyone – but especially your spouse or children - is not okay, under any circumstances, for any reason. Profanity is often excused by saying, “Oh, that’s just the way he or she talks. They don’t mean any harm.”

It’s not okay.

Twelve years ago, Rex Ryan, then the coach of the New York Jets, came under fire because of his excessive use of profanity captured during the filming of the television program Hard Knocks. Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, a devout Christian, had criticized Ryan for his choice of words and said if he were making the decision, he wouldn’t hire him.

Ryan’s response?

"I'm a good person," Ryan said. "Just because somebody cusses or whatever doesn't make them a bad person. Just because a guy doesn't cuss doesn't make him a good person. So, I'll stand by my merits."

What upset Ryan the most was that his mother was disappointed in him. And I agree with him – cursing doesn’t make you or me “a bad person.” But that fact doesn’t make it right, does it? Professional athletes and coaches are famous for their outbursts and they typically “get a pass.” But why should they? This past season, the NBA fined its players $95,000 for swearing, the most since 2004, the first year they began providing that data. I don’t think those fines have been much of a deterrent for multimillionaires.

Sadly, even churches have now become a place where salty language is allowed under the guise of being “relatable” to the common man. I thought we were supposed to show the common man what Christ is like. We are called to be holy, not to be “cool.”

How about you? When those buttons get pushed – and at some point, everybody’s buttons get pushed, what is your response?

Do you “go off” on your spouse or children or friends or colleagues? Then do you or they shrug it off as a bad moment? If you do, it’s not okay. And no, I’m not sitting on some high horse because I’ve been thrown off it too many times. I am still today capable of a “dang” or a “shoot” or a “doggonit.” Those are euphemisms for curse words and quite honestly, I’d like to get past those as well.

Profanity today has become so commonplace that many hardly bat an eye at it. The use of curse words can make a moment more personal, more emotional, more frustrating, and more embarrassing. The words can literally change the tone of a movie scene, or more important, a life scene. But they elicit these changes for all the wrong reasons.

So, what is it that the Bible says? Well, it doesn’t give us a list of taboo words, but it does say that we should never use the Lord’s name in vain. It also admonishes us to steer clear of “filthy language,” “unwholesome talk,” and “crude joking.” We are called to reflect the image of God, so the answer is still “no.”

We should not curse because of the Scripture that tells us that what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of the state of our hearts.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks, Luke 6:45.

Foul language is not a benefit to the body of Christ. Period.

Colossians 3:8 takes us further: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Jesus died for all of our sins, and that includes cursing. If you use profanity, I will simply ask that you study the Scriptures and seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit to help you conquer the habit. Some folks use a so-called cuss jar or swear jar. Every time they curse, others who witness it collect the “fine,” which is taken by the offender putting money into the jar or box. Hey – whatever it takes to beat the habit, beat it.

We are called to lift one another up and to lift up the world. Few things can tear down a marriage or a relationship more quickly than berating your spouse or friend with poisonous words. And let us not forget that the attitude behind what we are saying can be just as deadly. Calling your spouse “stupid or your child a “dummy” can be just as lethal as cursing.

During this holiday season and always, let us not make room for unwholesome words to come out of our mouths, but words that edify and bless. Let’s stop looking to the world and how it does business. Let’s look to the Father and be about His business.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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