Monthly Archives: January 2019

Hey, @#$%^!

A friend of mine brought up the topic of “swear/curse words.”

He made a valiant effort to get Christians to think about their intent (and the state of their hearts), rather than hyperfocus on certain “naughty words.”

1.28.19 swear words (1 edit)

Personally, I’m fascinated by the topic because I have small children, who depend on ME to tell them what our culture considers “right” and “wrong.”

Every, single one of my toddlers, while learning to speak, has said a few “bad words” completely innocently… And therefore, they were not punished for what they did not know. When my 5-year-old asked excitedly, “What the hell???” I simply explained that many people would be upset if they heard him say that.

It’s only NOW (since we’ve had this conversation) that he knows the word can be offensive, and he will be in trouble if he says “hell” intending to disobey.

But on the other hand, the same boy was disciplined when he was three and kept yelling “YOU BAD!!!” when he was angry.

Any time I told him to pick up his toys or get ready for bed, he’d growl, “You bad, Mommy!”

Make no mistake, THAT’S filthy language, Folks! That little boy was cursing me–to the best of his young ability.

As the conversation on my friend’s wall continued, there were two, distinct “groups” which emerged:

  1. Group one argued that any word can be a “swear word” if it’s said with hate/malice.
  2. Group two argued: Yes, but there are certain words which are ALWAYS “swear words,” and never should be said in any circumstance.

Group one brought up several examples of places in the Bible where Paul and Jesus used forceful and culturally-offensive words, for teaching.

Group two said things like, “You’re just making excuses” and “we all KNOW, deep down, that you’re just defending your sin.”

Group one argued that “cursing” literally means “wishing a person harm” (i.e. damning them to Hell)–and “swearing” literally means “making an oath you fail to keep.” But it’s not a certain combination of letters.

Group two continued to struggle with fear that if they agreed with any of these points, Christians were going to freely drop F-bombs in every sentence for the rest of their lives, whenever they felt like it.

So I jumped in and offered a couple more real-life examples of what happens when humans are taught to consider their ATTITUDE while speaking, instead of just the words…

I said:

“I know some kids who were taught that “I don’t care” is the worst thing you can say in frustration. I find that very thought-provoking. It seems the majority of people who throw around “swears” are doing it because they DON’T CARE enough to consider how it affects another person… Which is what makes it unholy.

True story: I once had a family member (a Christian woman) get triggered and call me just to scream. I asked, “If you won’t let me respond to any of your accusations, then why did you call?” She said, “Because! I wanted to tell you off, and I can do what I want!”  Without taking a breath, she told me I was evil and that my children are feral and that I’m a Pharisee.

Then she said “You effin think you’re perfect.” Note: that’s not censored. She actually said “effin”. 😂

Even as hurt and annoyed as I was to be dealing with a verbal attack, I still almost laughed at the irony of a church woman who is absolutely out of her mind with rage but still has the discipline to avoid saying The Big No-No.

I picture Jesus on his throne observing the whole thing and saying, “Well done, my child. You have followed my command perfectly! Don’t stop until you’ve given that Pharisee every single piece of your mind.”

Most interestingly:  this woman eventually apologized for using the words “bitch” and “jackass” during her tirade. And I accepted, because I’m looking for baby steps. But she never took responsibility for the unrighteous anger which fueled EVERY word she said in that phone call, because “You made me hurt, and I still feel that stuff is true, and you can’t invalidate my feelings.”

And that, folks, is why we need to help Church People understand that intent matters more than words.

There are individuals who think they only owe others an apology if they slip up and say one of the things on a list of Naughty Words.  But the heart matters most.

I understand the worry that people in “Group One” will abuse their freedom and start swearing like sailors for no reason. But I wish Group Two would have some faith that God can use the conviction of the Holy Spirit to hold all of us to a higher standard than that.

Yes, there are rare occassions when “checking your intention” may mean that it’s okay to say “shit” or “fuck” when you’re not cursing someone…sometimes… in the company of people whose faith won’t be destroyed in the process.

But, more often than that, asking God to “check our motivation” actually LIMITS our speech, even beyond those dirty words. 

At the same time that Group Two was worried about this conversation opening the floodgates of profanity, I was actually convicted about certain phrases I’ve been using thoughtlessly as of late, such as “You’re driving me crazy!”  and “I just can’t even ________”

I plan to apologize to my kids for letting that stuff fall out of my mouth so easily–and to ask them to help me choose my words more carefully, out of love.

So, what about you, reader?  Can you think of situations where you’ve used words/phrases in a holy way, that others would find offensive?  (I can think of several more examples of my own…)  Or are there seemingly harmless words/phrases which God has warned you to stop using in an UNHOLY way?  (I can think of more of these, too.)

Furthermore,  I floated the idea that the MOST OFFENSIVE comments came when certain Christians got so frustrated with eachother that things like this happened:

1.28.19 swear words (4 edit)

Does anyone agree with me that cutting off our siblings is more unChristlike than a few friends calling eachother “bastards” for fun?

Let’s continue to discuss in the comments!

Expose Christian Schools?

A few years ago, I drove to Lafayette, IN to be part of a nationwide protest of Planned Parenthood.  This was shortly after the undercover videos started revealed top Planned Parenthood staffers admitting they fudged reports, manipulated women, and ultimately sold the body parts of aborted babies to various places…

The videos outraged many across the country, and we gathered by the tens of thousands, holding signs and sharing personal stories about women who deserve better than Planned Parenthood–and asking the government to “Defund PP.”

At the PP in Lafayette, there were roughly 200 people standing on the sidewalk alongside me: young, old, black, white, male, and female. And we knew there were even larger crowds at other locations around the U.S.

It took awhile before some of us noticed a man standing on the other side of the street, “counter-protesting” our message.

Guys–he was holding a piece of printer paper, on which he had written (in pencil?)  “Go Home and Mind Your Own Business.” 

I’m serious.

It looked as though he had spotted our group from his office window and decided to grab whatever was in reach as he rushed out to the sidewalk–to stand in unity with himself and tell everybody else to look the other way. Just let PP injure whoever they want with tax-payer money.

It was kind of funny, in a sad way, until the news crews started to show up. 

And that’s when it dawned on me: “Oh, crap–this guy is going to be interviewed several times today…because those journalists think that’s how you tell a ‘balanced’ story.” 

Hundreds of people organized to shed light on an injustice.  One dude decided (on a whim) to say “GO AWAY!”

And he was given a microphone.

I’m reminded of that story as I scroll through the tweets under the hashtag #exposeChristianSchools, which started trending after Karen Pence accepted a teaching job at Immanuel Christian School.

Being reminded that those schools exist–some people wanted a place to share their horror stories about their private educations.

And by “horror stories” I mean mostly vague accusations of “hate” and “lies,” punctuated with a only a few more specific claims just like this:

 

1.26.19 suspended for violating dress code

 

1.26.19 expelling a lesbian

 

At first, it’s kind of funny, in a sad way.  I imagine these people, standing by themselves outside of a private school, holding a piece of printer paper.

There are many, many, many people using the hashtag to talk about their positive experiences with rigorous academics, the teachers who were like family members, and the atmosphere of love. So I almost feel bad for the handful of bitter ex-Christians, standing in unity with themselves to say “I was expelled for violating the dress code.”

…but then it dawns on me:

Oh, crap, someone will still give them a microphone.

When Dan Levin goes to write his piece for the New York Times about the hashtag #exposeChristianSchools, he’s going to feel the need to be “balanced” by taking seriously the pitiful complaints of roughly four, jaded Atheists.

But why wait to talk with kids after they’ve graduated?

You can go into any Christian school NOW and ask any of the students, “Which one of your classmates absolutely hates being here and will talk to me about his/her terrible experience?”

They can tell you. I guarantee it.

Nobody who went to school with “ebnjsandwich” is surprised that she’s still bitter over the dress code as an adult.  There is at least one in EVERY school who loudly and repeatedly moans how stuuuuuuuuuupid dress codes are–and some of them never get over it.

It’s kind of funny.

But it’s also sad.

When I was a student, it never occurred to me that someday I might be judged as “lacking in empathy” if I said anything in defense of Christian schols.

I didn’t know I would one day be guilty of “lacking empathy” unless I pretended to agree with Betsy that her latest drama with the “unfair” principal REALLY WAS a big deal.

1.26.19 lack of empathy

Did you catch that last line?

If someone says something negative about a system, you shouldn’t tell your own (positive) story. The PROPER response is to let a dissenter speak…  Even if everybody else disagrees.

Empathy means taking them seriously.

Balance means giving them a microphone.

I just can’t help wondering where we learned these wacky “rules” about empathy and balance, in the first place?

Can anyone tell me?

Was it Christian Schools or Public Schools–teaching us that the CORRECT thing is to shine a spotlight on literally anyone who disagrees with the majority?

I want to know who to blame and where to protest for the ridiculous situation we find ourselves in now: where the people with the most insignificant opinions are still finding ways to earn attention.

My little piece of printer paper will say:

“You don’t deserve to be heard just because you are arguing…”

Sometimes people feel voiceless and out-numbered–not because there’s a need for a social justice crusade–but because their “perspective” about the issue is simply wrong…

#ExposeBadEducation

Keep Asking Those Questions

I was 15 when I first heard somebody ask, “What if the health of the mother is at risk?”

Immediately, I wanted to answer. But I couldn’t.  I had never thought about it before.

Usually my classmates and I knew exactly what we were “supposed” to say when our teacher asked for input.  (Note: it was a private, Christian school.  So, the answer was “Jesus.” 😉 )

But this time, I only shifted uncomfortably, while I waited for Miss Mack to let us off the hook and give us a tidy answer.

She didn’t.

In fact, she made it even worse: “What if the baby is sick and will die anyway?  Is abortion okay then?”

Ugh.

These were BIG QUESTIONS. Tough questions. 😦

I remember exactly where I was and how much my mind reeled, the very first time I struggled with the idea that sometimes women don’t WANT abortions; they NEED them. 

Questions have that much power.

I share this story to explain that I’m not opposed to asking.  Actually, I’m grateful to my teacher for forcing us to face the complicated issues. And I’m grateful she let us squirm and wrestle, so we would learn how to think.

Those questions, which threw me for a loop as a schoolgirl, needed to be asked. They are valid questions.

But, in the years since I sat in that classroom, I’ve discovered there are even more questions which can (and should) be asked in reply, like:

  1.  Do sad situations involving sickness and possible death change the baby’s status as a human?
  2. Is a preborn baby still valuable in God’s eyes–even if he/she never takes a breath?
  3. Are doctors able to predict, with certainty, how long a child will live?
  4. Is it EVER medically necessary to make sure a fetus is dead before delivering it?
  5. What does the “health” of the mother refer to? Emotional health? Mental health? Financial health?

This is not an exhaustive list. There are many more questions, of similar weight, which might cause a budding-Feminist to feel as uncomfortable as I did years ago.

If you’re struggling with a point you’ve never considered before, I totally relate! 

But let’s keep pressing into it:

In the time since highschool, I’ve heard the stories of women who were told their babies were “terminal”–only to stubbornly refuse abortion and deliver completely healthy children.  I’ve heard stories of women putting off chemotherapy until 24 or 25 weeks and delivering micropreemies which allowed both mother and baby to survive.

You want something that might make you shift uncomfortably in your chair, while your mind reels? Watch this video: Choosing Thomas.

Did you watch it?  Does it leave you with some questions?

I can only think of one:  “God, if I’m ever in that situation, can I have the courage to make the same choice?”

What I WON’T be asking is: “What if the health of the mother is at risk?”

Though it once gave me trouble, that one seems pretty obvious now.

It’s Only By Challenging Ourselves to Do More…

Perhaps you’ve seen the new ad for Gillette, which “challenges men to do more” in order to “get closer to their best.”

As someone who really loves to issue challenges and hold people accountable to rise and meet higher standards, I LOVE the “no excuses” message.

That’s why I’ve taken the liberty of fleshing out the ad for Venus razors which should be the obvious follow-up to Gillette’s empowering campaign:

VIDEO BEGINS

(Somber music)

(Flashes to female faces, young and old, looking at themselves in mirrors.)

*Voiceovers saying things like: “Bullying!”  “Out-of-wedlock births.” “Blame the Patriarchy…”

*Young girl’s voice yells: “You’re not my friend!”

(Jump-cut to a Venus commercial from the 90’s.)

Female Narrator:  Have we revealed the “goddess” in ourselves?

(Young girls break through the screen on which the Venus commercial is playing, shrieking like animals…)

Female Narrator:  Is this how the Divine behave?

(Jump to text messages appearing on the screen, such as:  “Freak!” “You’re ugly.” “Nobody likes you.”)

Female Narrator: We can’t hide forever…it has been going on too long.

(Quick jumps to news clips: women fighting, women pole-dancing, Miley Cyrus flipping off the camera, etc.)

(Cut to young girls sitting in a classroom as a nun writes “modesty” on the chalkboard. The girls’ mothers break down the door and throw wadded up papers and spit balls at the nun.)

Female Narrator:  We can’t “resist” evil, unless we purge it from within us. 

(Jump to women wearing pink hats, holding “resist” signs.  One woman hands a sign to a very young girl which says “F&$% Trump.”)

Female Narrator: …We keep making the same old excuses…

(Cut to scene where a woman is shouting at her husband: “I don’t get ANY HELP around here!”)

First Woman:  Girls just want to be loved. 

Second Woman: Girls just want to be loved.

Dozens of Women, robotically: We only want to be loved.

(Jump to teen girls grinding on their boyfriends at prom.) 

Female Narrator:  What will it take for US to change?

(Jump to young girl holding her mother’s hand while she’s lying on a hospital table.)

*Voiceover:  “Over 700,000 abortions per year.” “Babies born alive…” “It’s about MY needs…”

(Cut to news coverage of Kermit Gosnell: “accused of leaving babies to die after late-term abortion attempts…” Then jump to dozens of reporters covering the same story.)

Female Narrator:  When will WE take responsibility, too?

(Cut back to the women looking in the mirrors.)

Female Narrator: Because we….we believe the power of God is available to women.

Conservative Christian Spokesperson on TV saying: “We need to hold our sisters accountable!”

(Music rises)

(Cut to scene of an older woman stopping the nagging wife from yelling.)

(Cut to scene with the Nun in school, where one of the paper-throwing mothers snaps out of her rage and looks pained with guilt.)

Female Narrator:  Becoming a godly woman means helping each other learn to say the right thing and act the right way…

(Jump to women in a pregnancy center, teaching a pregnant woman to change a diaper…)

 Female Narrator: Some of us are already doing it!…in ways big and small.

(Split-screen: woman surrounded by orphans in Africa and a woman holding a single, adopted child.)

(Music continues to build.) 

(Jump to: one of the women who was chanting “Women just want to be loved” breaks away from the group and rushes to stop the girl dancing provacatively on her boyfriend…)

Female Narrator: But some is not enough…

(Cut to: a woman takes the ‘F&%$ Trump’ sign from the little girl and tells her mother, “That’s not okay.”)

Female Narrator: Because the girls watching us today will be the godly women of tomorrow.

(Rapid jump cuts to the cherubic faces of a dozen little girls, well on their way to being “goddesses.”)

TEXT APPEARS OVER THE LAST LITTLE GIRL’S FACE:  “Reveal the Goddess in You.”

…”It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to being goddesses.”

END VIDEO

Well?

So, who wants to partner with me to make this happen?   😀

Seriously, I don’t want the only ones improving themselves to be MEN!

Let’s empower the women, too!  

Or–if anyone wants to argue that this video isn’t empowering–(because it’s shaming or condescending or whatever)–then I’d love to hear your opinion of the original Gillette commercial as well.  How is it different?

As far as I’m concerned, either both of these commercials are uplifting or they’re both insulting… but no more double-standards, please.