I have a feeling that some of my friends are reading this just to see if I actually used curse words in it. I’m definitely not great at filtering myself or taming my sailor tongue. More often than not, when I get passionate or frustrated the uncensored Jess runs wild. I think there are some church curse words too. You know what I mean, those words that we aren’t really supposed to say in church. They become the unspoken awkwardness that hides in our pews and keeps us from being authentic with each other. Here are a few of the church curse words I learned growing up:
We don’t talk about failure in church. We do this thing where we just talk about the surface struggles when we’re together like our dislike for reading the Book of Numbers or the lack of prayer we’ve offered up for the “fallen” people we work with. It leaves no room for people to be real about the depth of their struggles and causes people to hide their failures and pain. Hidden pain can do nothing but fester and it soon becomes a monster that eats away at you from the inside until you feed it with the emptiness of this world. I can’t help but wonder that maybe if we talked more about our failures with other believers we might actually find the hope we so desperately crave.
“Um, that is inappropriate, we don’t discuss that here.” Why the hell not?! Do you think if you just ignore the issue of sex that somehow it will just go away? The Bible talks about sex, why can’t we? I have news for you; our young people are hearing about sex from everywhere BUT church! It’s all over the TV, in our schools, weaved into our social media, and talked about amongst their friends. The only place not talking about it is the church. Shouldn’t we be talking about it with them? I don’t mean giving the typical “God says no sex before marriage that’s all that matters, oh, and here’s a purity ring. Now go be an example and make God happy!” Do we really think that is real? It’s time we were real, raw, and honest with our youth about sex. If they don’t learn it from us, they will learn it somewhere else.
This one hits closer to home for me. I do struggle with depression; less than I did but it’s still a very real part of my life. I’ve heard messages preached on depression saying that it is just another demon that can’t afflict the true believer. We play the “ok” game in church a lot. “How are you today?” Ok. “How was your week?” Ok. “How are you feeling?” Ok. We say it over and over again, trying to convince everyone and ourselves that it’s true, when really we are absolutely not Ok. Depression sucks life, energy, and hope out of you. It’s something we should be fighting in the church not hiding.
“There are no addicts in my church!” Wanna bet? I have this crazy belief that 99% of people are addicted to something. Some things we don’t even know we are addicted to. My biggest was, of course, alcohol. I also struggle with busyness addiction which comes in a close second. Addiction creeps into more than just the overtly obvious places such as porn, alcohol, or drugs. You can be addicted to duty, addicted to work, addicted to control, addicted to power, and even addicted to religion. To me, addiction is what keeps you up at night worrying about what will happen if you can’t get your fix, if you can’t fill the emptiness. Addiction is something we need to discuss in church because we hold the key to recovery… fullness. Grace fills up and overflows; it’s addiction’s worst enemy.
Ah, freedom, my favorite church curse word. It’s one that has been forbidden from our pulpits for fear of losing control of our people. We think that if we teach people about freedom then they will take advantage of it, sinning extravagantly. I think there is power in freeing people. I have found that people are much better at doing what they want to than at doing what they are supposed to. If we shackle people to religion we will get nothing but a façade of purity while the inside of them rots away. Freedom allows people to run full speed after a God who is more concerned with pouring his favor on them than with raining down his wrath over their smallest missteps. Freedom has a power to heal brokenness that is unmatched by anything else. It’s worth the risk of allowing people to run into the arms of sin, finding nothing but slavery there.
I think it’s time we went uncensored in our churches. I think it’s time we broke all the rules and screamed these unspoken words from the tops of our steeples. Let us be defined by our authenticity and not by what we do in the dark.