Cussing in Church
One of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand . . . John 18:22
I grew up in a home where I was pretty sheltered from foul language. Like any kid though, once exposed, I quickly soaked up the colorful words I heard in the neighborhood. After hanging out with the neighbor kids one Saturday, I thought I’d try out my new vocabulary the next morning. Unable to find my Sunday socks for church, I casually shared my struggle with my mom, “I can’t find my gosh darn socks” (only I didn’t say gosh darn). She calmly let me know that we didn’t take God’s name in vain.
I appreciate my mom’s patience, but honestly, it was exhilarating to learn those new, vulgar words. It was exciting to be a little bad. I learned though, to use those words only occasionally, not around adults, and certainly never in church. I did have friends who cussed in church, and it shocked me. That was taking it too far. I was pretty sure those kids were going to grow up to be criminals or drug addicts, and I was pretty confident in my own superiority for not cussing in church.
I’ve done this throughout my life. I’ve engaged in what I considered to be small, insignificant sins, while soothing my conscience by looking down on those whom I considered to be worse than me. As my failures grew, I simply had to find someone worse to look down on. I did this again yesterday, while reading today’s passage. As I read about the high priest’s officer who struck Jesus, I thought, I’m glad I’m not that guy. Anyone who would punch Jesus must be destined for hell. Thank God I’m not as bad as him.
We often do this as Christians. We condescend to the sins we don’t struggle with and we make ourselves feel better about our own failures by comparison. I might be prideful, but at least I’m not a gossip. Sure, I gossip some, but at least I’m not using drugs. OK, maybe I use drugs, but at least I go to church – where I would never cuss.
I’m not saying all destructive behavior is the same. Different sins have different consequences. When we look down on someone else’s flaws though – to make ourselves feel better about ourselves – we compound our sin by indulging in condescending pride. If we truly want to know peace and absolution, then we must take our eyes off those around us, look inward, and abandon whatever it is that is causing us misery in the first place.