Sunday, October 07, 2007


I don’t believe I ever heard my father swear… Ever. I can’t even imagine him saying ‘darn.’ Remember, my dad was born in 1923 and grew up with an entirely different standard of behavior. His swearing avoidance is/was actually something I respected very much. He moved in ‘earthy’ circles- He worked for the Bureau of Land Management which means loggers, foresters and truck drivers; he played sports in local baseball and basketball teams up until the 80’s; he knew a large population of native Alaskans up here as he dealt with the land claims stuff; plus, he pursued an art degree from 1989 until around 2000 and was surrounded by artists and musicians. (side note: every person in my family has drawn and/or painted the nude figure in some kind of art class) Yet, he chose to not be affected by the circle of people he moved in daily.

My mom grew up in a military family- her dad was an army car body mechanic and he was not a Christian. In fact, one of the joys of her life has been the knowledge that her dad accepted Christ within the year that he died from lung cancer. Anyway, she grew up in a very different home- half Christian, half not. My mom has been known to swear. Mind you, ‘darn it’ and ‘damn it’ are pretty much the extent of it, although I have heard her in a moment of extreme frustration say, ‘He is an asshole.’ It sounded funny, too. Swearing isn’t something she’s proud of and she consciously seeks to avoid and eliminate it from her speech.

I lean toward my mom’s swearing habits- the occasional ‘damn it’… Attending seminary for five years definitely affected my speech choices for the better. However, living with my husband for 7 years has overcome almost any growth gained from my seminary years… I’ve recently heard more ‘shit’ coming out of my mouth than during any other time in my life, including college. I don’t like it. I want to have clean language.

My husband swears regularly- ‘fuck’, ‘damn’, ‘shit’, ‘bitch’, ‘bastard’, ‘asshole’ + and any combination thereof is quite likely to come forth from his mouth… His jobs have brought him in contact with an entirely different world than mine, plus he grew up with swearing in his own home. He shocks me quite frequently. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the words that come out of him.

There was no leniency for swearing during my childhood. I remember having my mouth washed out with soap twice- once because my mom thought I said something I didn’t (oh, the injustice! I still get upset over that one!) and once for something I did say, though I can’t remember what it was… I NEVER said anything again that would bring that soap bar anywhere near my mouth. YUCK.

I have to say, in my opinion, a Christian should avoid swearing. I don’t want to say words that I’d be ashamed of saying before the throne of God. Any words I say are said in the presence of Christ since He lives within me. I don’t want to drag him into the presence of filth. And that’s how I grew up- understanding that swearing was filthy.

I’ve been thinking of this more because of my husband- I think that for a while Jake was trying to eliminate swearing from his language, but my impression is that lately he’s given up. Habits are so hard to remove. Sometimes it’s easier to just give up.

I like the saying ‘in, not of’ that’s bandied about in Christian circles… That’s what I want to be- in the world, but not of it. I do respect my husband, but this is something I wish he’d change. Partly because I just don’t like it and partly because his language is rubbing off on me. I’m tending to swear more now than I ever have and I don’t like hearing these words come out of my mouth! The other reason I wish he’d change this habit is because of our girls. They are hearing a lot of language come out of him that is not appropriate or cute out of a 2 or 4 year old. And he’s their role model. When Deborah asked me what 'fuck' meant last week, I really wasn't exactly sure what to tell her...

Oh, well… I’m sorry to be complaining about this- It’s just really bugging me right now.

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