Thursday, February 18, 2010

When People Use "Colorful Language" Around You...

I thought this recent post by one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff, was a classic. Over the years I've been struck by people who, when they discover I'm a minister, apologize for swearing around me. I'm thinking Jon has come up with a great set of responses to these folks.

The other day in the car, my four year old blurted out, "Stupid backpack!" I slowed down and asked her what she had just said. She paused for a minute and then responded, "Sometimes my brain says silly things. Silly billy, willy scoobaleedoo."

Although I appreciated the verbal smokescreen she threw down to cover her tracks, she still said a word we’re not cool with at the Acuff house. But as funny as her response was, it’s nothing like what happens sometimes when people swear around Christians. Have you ever experienced that? It is a truly magical moment my friend.

Usually, it’s just that a word slipped into a sentence unexpectedly. Your friend suddenly catches themselves and says, "Oh, hey, sorry about that. I didn’t mean to say that. My bad." And then the conversation moves on. But what are we supposed to do? What should your response be when you hear one of your friends swear near you? Funny that you should ask…

5 Things To Do When A Friend Swears Near You.

1. Slap him in the mouth.

Right in the mouth. Go on, do it. I know a lot of people are going to tell you a kidney punch is most appropriate in this situation, but I disagree. For my money, few things offer the same sound, impact and “who dat” power of a slap in the mouth.

2. Weep softly.

Just start crying softly. Wipe your nose with your sleeve and keep looking at the person, shaking your head back and forth in clear, visible disappointment. The more tender the tears the better.

3. Swear back.

First two options not your style? Then go the other direction and make them feel okay about the swear by saying one of your own.

4. Hold them.

Want to make a slightly awkward situation even more awkward? Just embrace them. No side hug, I’m talking full frontal. Recreate that scene from the movie Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams cradles a sobbing Matt Damon and says, “It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.” Do that exact same thing here.

5. Reassure them that you’ve heard that word before.

If I’m in my mid-thirties and you swear near me, chances are, I’ve heard that word before. Maybe even a lot and more colorfully dressed up if I happened to be a mailman one dark, twisted summer. (That last one just got personal.)

If you do end up slapping people in the mouth, please don’t mention this blog site. This list is probably the kind of advice that makes Christian magazines keep avoiding me. But if you do make a big deal out of a swear, know that you’ve just asked someone to edit themselves around you and it’s really hard to get a friend to be honest when you’ve placed conditions on what they can say. I’m not justifying swears, but just hoping that if the choice is "help lead someone into a growing relationship with Christ," or "avoid someone because they swear a lot" that we’ll all make a good choice.