What’s the cuss all about?

The other day, I was listening to a podcast from one of the Believer’s Convention services that Kenneth Copeland Ministries puts on each year.  Gloria Copeland was the speaker and she was saying something about instead of letting the devil beat you up with doubt, you should use your faith and beat him up.  The she came out with “kick the devil’s toe!”  My brain went *tilt* – his toe?  What?!  Is Gloria Copeland trying to talk all tough?

She then explained that at her home, she has a device on her TV that will substitute cuss words in live TV with other “normal” words.  And the word that replaces “ass” most of the time on her TV is “toe”.  So, when she watches a Bruce Lee movie at home, they “kick toe”.  I thought it was hilarious!  (I tested out this substitute in my last blog, y’all let me know how you like it).

It got funnier when Creflo Dollar got up to speak and he made “kickin’ toe” sound all street, saying Goliath might be a big giant and you feel like a little David, but with God you can kick toe!

I didn’t grow up around people that cussed.  My mama wouldn’t let me say suck, screw, or freakin’.  I had a biology teacher in the 10th grade that would make students write sentences if they said “suck” in her classroom.  My best friend came up with a new phrase – “that rots” – so we started saying it. Since it was all biological and stuff, the teacher liked it and let us keep it.

Soon after we moved into our new house last fall, we changed some of our movie channels and started getting HBO.  During the evening on most week nights, they have a show called “In Treatment”.  Each episode is basically someone’s therapy session with their psychiatrist.  When you have to deal with people and you have no idea what it is that makes them tick, but you still have to learn to work and relate with them, this show gives you an inside look at a wide variety of people.  I was very intrigued by it when I first started watching it.

One of the first episodes I watched was a session with a 16 year-old boy who’s mom gave him up and he doesn’t know why.  He’s disclosed that he is gay and would sneak into gay bars to hang out with older guys because they make him feel needed and protected.  Previous to this session, he had done well with taking his meds right and not skipping school, until the day of the session.  During that session, the therapist tries to dig into why he “backslid” so suddenly.  Turns out, his birth mom left him a voicemail that she wanted to meet with him.  He traced her number and found out that she lived in Manhattan (aka she’s rich).  During this episode, he also uses the “F” word a lot (I know, it’s HBO, what do you expect) – but it was very strategic because he admitted to trying to make the therapist uncomfortable.

Then the therapist said something very profound: “Why would that word make me uncomfortable?  I want you to express how all this makes you feel, and if that’s the best word to communicate those feelings to me, then you’ve done exactly what I’ve asked.” (Now, what if I had watched that episode at Gloria Copeland’s house?  Would it have had the same profoundness as the original?)

After that episode, I said to Ken, “what if we took that approach with the teens we minister to and even all the people we encounter?  Would it make them communicate more openly with us?  Feel less judged?”

I’m not saying cussing is okay.  God tells us that we should bless and not curse and that the power of life and death is in the tongue.  He wants us to choose and speak life.  And yes I’m supposed to guard my heart (and my eyes and my ears) because what’s in my heart will come out of my mouth.  So, I’m settled that I don’t need to cuss and that I should protect myself and not have to hear it all the time.

But what if that 16 year old boy walked into your church or your office or your classroom… would he be able to accurately communicate his feelings to you without needing a “word substituter” or being judged by our “thou shalt not cuss” religiosity?