Let Them Cuss

It was a competitive evening. I was playing a basketball game with a group of guys when all of a sudden one of them made a mistake. We’ll call him Alex. Alex cussed after he made the mistake. An older man, whom we’ll call Jack, heard him cuss and told him to watch his language. Alex looked at Jack, dropped his head in disappointment, and apologized. As soon as I saw this scenario take place I became very angry. I had no anger towards Alex, but a lot of anger towards Jack. Jack is an older, strong Christian man. Alex is a young man in high school still searching for truth. In other words Jack IS a Christian and Alex is NOT. Why did this scenario make me so mad? Great question! I was angry because there was no need to correct Alex in his speech. So what, he said the word “damn”. Do we really think that by correcting his speech his heart will change? If so, we have it all wrong!

Why is it that when Alex cussed Jack corrected him? Many believe Jack did the right thing, but I beg to differ. Sure, I believe there is a time and place for everything. If Alex was in front of little kids, speaking in front of a crowd, or cussing excessively and causing a scene, I would ask him to stop. But since he said “damn” in the environment he was in, I find it okay to let it go. In Alex’s situation, what is the correct response? The correct response is no response at all. The best thing you can do in that situation is keep on playing the game like you never heard anything. Why make no reaction to a sick, sinful, pitiful, disgusting, and vulgar word like “damn”? (Sarcasm here) Because Jesus never corrected anyone into Heaven, he loved them into it.

If we tell Alex to stop cussing, one major thing will happen. He will get the wrong picture of the gospel. This is why I became angry at Jack. When he told Alex to stop cussing, what was he implying? It could be put as simple as this: “Alex, you need to stop cussing and clean up your language. Once you’re able to fix your behavior, you will be able to reach God. You have to get yourself together before going to Him.” Jack never said this, but that’s what was implied. It’s as if we have forgotten the gospel. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We are saved by grace, so why do we preach morals rather than grace? The gospel isn’t after a change in behavior, it’s after you! When Alex cussed, he didn’t need someone to correct him; he needed someone to love him, be his friend, and someone to set a good example.

I have to ask, what are we after? Do we want a change in word choice or a changed life? Do we want a change in behavior or a change of heart? Do we want people to live duplicate lives in which they privatize their sin or do we want people who are the same person wherever they go? Just remember that God is not primarily after a change in behavior, he is after our hearts! Isaiah 29:13 says “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” You can have someone who does and says all the right things, but despite good morals we can’t earn our way to God. Christ already did that for us. So I ask, would you rather see someone who has a clean mouth, but doesn’t know God or see someone who cusses, but knows God? Regardless, just remember that a change in behavior doesn’t always result in a change of heart, but rather a change in heart results in a change of behavior. And how do we change the heart? Not by pointing people to their moral hiccups, but by pointing people to the one who has the power to change the heart. Did Jack do the right thing? You be the judge.

4 thoughts on “Let Them Cuss

  1. The piece, to me, that is missing is relationship? If Jack has already developed a strong relationship with Alex then they probably can say just about anything to each other. However, I agree with your idea of turning people to Jesus with love not words. In that case, Jack taking the time afterward to go grab a Coke would maybe afford an opportunity to talk…not about cussing but for matters of the heart…
    Love your stuff, Jordan! It is great for people to do self checks, and your stuff maybe helps them with that. It is good for me, for sure. “Iron sharpens iron”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Relationships are the context in which discipleship and evangelism happens. Without a relationship, Jack has not earned the right to correct Alex. Thanks for your thoughtful response!

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  2. Your assertion that Jesus never corrected anyone into Heaven isn’t correct, though… Basically every interaction with the Jewish leaders was a correction. The context, though, betrays the correction’s motivation. Jesus did not shy away from correcting people in their false teachings about what God requires; this is what you are doing now, correcting false teaching and behavior. Whether or not he SHOULD cuss isn’t a question of whether or not he CAN.

    Very obviously, as you point out, we are free in Christ and should not be afraid; If Jack made the mistake of stating, “cussing is sin”, he’d be wrong and worth the anger that is coming through in this post. Jack’s intentions were good from what I gather, but they were based on false premises of what’s “right” or “wrong”. The statement here, in context, CAN give a false view of the Gospel, but it’s not wrong to stand up for what you believe is right AS LONG AS THE CONTEXT IS CLEAR.

    P.S. Sorry for the caps; there’s no way for me to bold in this post. Please reread these as bolded statements consistent with how you bolded in your own writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your feedback! The reason Jesus corrected Jewish leaders is because they knew better. They had the head knowledge, but not the heart knowledge. He also corrected people who were hypocrites; people who believed in Jesus, but lived in a different way that didn’t reflect those beliefs.

      Jesus did correct people, but Jesus corrected others in a different context than Jack corrected Alex. For Alex, I don’t believe it’s a matter of whether or not he should cuss or whether or not he can cuss. It’s neither of those. He can cuss if he wants. His cussing isn’t going to damn him to hell, separation from Jesus will. Correcting Alex is going to change his heart. Sure, it may correct his behavior for a moment, but it won’t change his heart. The disease you plant in his heart is more dangerous than the cure you temporarily gave him for his language. In other words, changing his behavior is telling his heart he needs to change before going to God rather than going to God and allowing God to change him. Alex simply said “damn” because he turned the ball over. He didn’t cuss at someone in an attempt to degrade them. His cussing was harmless, and correcting him isn’t appropriate or necessary in this situation.

      I agree with you that Jack had the right intentions. Jack was standing up for what he believed was right, but is he supposed to force his convictions on Alex? Jack believes cussing is wrong; Alex doesn’t. If Jack tells Alex to stop cussing, is that going to change Alex’s heart or just remind Alex that he is with people who want him to change his behavior? It’s not wrong to stand up for what you believe in, but for this situation it was wrong for Jack to correct Alex. A correction in word choice will not change Alex’s heart, it will only change his language.

      Thanks again for your push back. I appreciate the different perspective you bring to the table. Your feedback is always welcome!

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