When I was a kid Bill Cosby was far and away my favorite comedian. Now that I think about it, he still is but this anecdote is about something I learned when I was young. In Bill Cosby’s comedy routines he would occasionally use what secular people consider mild profanity like Hell as in ‘go to Hell’. I was taught that as Christians we should never say ‘go to Hell’ because we actually believe in Hell.
Below are some of the worst verbal punches that a person who speaks American English can throw. They are what I think is ascending order of severity but I could be wrong. For the purposes of this blog I’m leaving out verbal punches that are aimed at a person’s race or nationality etc. It’s a whole different category of insulting and it is so obvious why Christians should not partake that it is not worth the time.
Least severe are the blasphemous:
God Damn You
Go to Hell
Then those that insult intelligence:
Stupe (is that the noun form of stupid)
Then the scatological:
Like a boxer, if you really want to get to your opponent you throw these punches in combinations. I’ll leave that you your imagination.
My opinion is that for Christians this list should be in reverse order. Christians already, I think, put the blasphemous above the scatological. We don’t curse as in ‘go to Hell’ or ‘damn you’ because it is counter to everything it means to be a Christian. We also don’t like scatological language because it is considered filthy language and Ephesians instructs Christians to not use such. What I don’t understand is why Christians feel free to use words such as idiot and stupid. Jesus was very specific in his sermon on the mount that anyone who says ‘thou fool’ is in danger of hell fire.
Don’t talk your way around this one. When expositors find a verse in the Bible that they don’t want to follow they find a way to talk around it. I can understand why a person might argue that a tithe can be calculated on income after taxes are deducted or dancing is okay because David danced before the Lord. I will also grant that sometimes we talk around verses for good reason. If you take the ‘turn the other cheek’ too far you might not defend someone who needs defending and thus someone could die. Similarly, the teaching on forgiveness does not mean allowing a person who is not qualified to do a job to continue doing it. I acknowledge that you can always talk your way out of a verse if that is what you want. If you can’t change the meaning of a sentence then change the meaning of the words. For instance if you want to have a potty mouth you could always say “but what exactly does the Greek word translated as filthy language in Ephesians really mean?” But why twist Jesus’ words that way? What is lost except the ability to insult someone? But why fight for the right to call someone an idiot? Don’t do it. Don’t talk your way around this one.
Like all sins, calling someone an idiot is bad for the person who does it but I’m not going to say why. I get tired of teachers who teach Christ as if the Christian is the center of the world. Have you ever heard a sermon on tithing where the preacher did not say that if you tithe you actually have more money because tithing teaches you to budget? Bah! If the only reason that you are not going to call someone an idiot is because it is in your best interest then please get a different religion. There are already lots of religions that allow their adherents to be self-centered. Christ did not die to give us another one. Jesus said to not call people stupid so don’t do it – Period and Exclamation point.
If I had my way the words stupid and idiot and moron would be to the Christian like the words F*ck and C*nt. They just wouldn’t be said. At the very least they should be like the words sh*t and a*s. It is okay to use them under certain circumstances if you are actually talking about what the words actually mean. This is a true story that you may at first think is funny. It was a very hot day so my mom, ever the caring person, called up a woman that she knew to see if she was managing. When asked what she was doing to keep her apartment cool the woman replied “I have the air conditioner on, the fan on, and the window open”. That would be a funny story except the woman in it was a high functioning developmentally challenged person who was living independently and my mother was her social worker charged with helping her. The woman in the story really was stupid. But that is just the point about calling someone stupid, if they really are, we (Christians at least) don’t – because it’s cruel. We only call people stupid who are not. Therefore for the Christian to call someone stupid is also a lie. What we mean when we call someone stupid is that they have overlooked something that we think should be obvious to everyone (like the woman opening the window on a hot day). If that is what we mean then that is what we should say.
I don’t mean this last statement as a veiled insult (please forgive me but maybe I do), I mean it in a practice what you preach sort of way. We Evangelicals have overlooked this for far too long and it really should be obvious to everyone.