Dr. Michael Svigel recently shared this on twitter: “Is it just me, or is ‘Jesus Christ’ as a curse word on the rise in popular culture? I’ve heard it a lot lately both live and in recent television/film. It’s almost as if it is being purposely scripted to offend. I can shrug off a lot of profanity, but this one bothers me.”
I agree. How about you?
But what can we do? I think we should begin saying something, rather than staying silent, when we hear the NAME of our Lord used in a profane way. Speak up, even if it is a stranger in public.
But we don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou or judgmental, so we say nothing. But I think it is easier to say something in a non-judgmental way than we think. This is NOT about giving someone a lecture! Maybe we are over-complicating it. Some ideas:
Use the element of surprise. People aren’t expecting a response to their profanity, so take advantage of that fact. You may decide to take their profane statement literally, and this will likely surprise them and get them thinking about the words they say. Often people say things without thinking.
Speak in a matter-of-fact way. Being deadpan or mellow in your tone could be effective, rather than your tone being passionate or riled up. Be calm. They won’t feel threatened. You may be able to use humor as well.
And to clarify what I mean, here are some ideas, which could be more or less appropriate depending on the situation:
♦ Someone says “holy Christ” in a profane way? Take it literally. Respond, in a serious tone: “I agree that Christ is holy, but what does that have to do with this mechanical issue we are trying to solve?”
♦ Many years ago I worked with a nurse who wore a big crucifix necklace all the time, and would also say “Jesus Christ” in a profane way. I never said anything, but if I could go back in time, I think I would use mild humor. Consider the tone here to be light and friendly: “So, I like your crucifix necklace. But when you also curse using the name of Jesus Christ isn’t that a bit contradictory? I think you are cancelling out any benefit the crucifix may have brought you! (mild chuckle).”
♦ You, in passing, hear someone say “Jesus.” Say something like “Praise the name of Jesus. He is worthy of all our praise” or “What a wonderful Name it is!” Again, make sure your tone is not arrogant or on-edge but properly emotional – genuine – expressing your love for Jesus, like you are in church saying it.
♦ I heard this shared once. This man was being helped by a sales clerk for a few minutes, and several times the clerk profaned the name of Jesus. When their transaction was about over, he said something like: “You have been very helpful today. Thanks for your service. But when you cursed using the Name of someone very important to me, I was hurt and bothered.” — The clerk was puzzled, and had no idea what he meant. He then explained it was when she misused the name of Jesus. The clerk responded that she didn’t even realize she had said it, and she guessed it was something she said out of habit without thinking. They had a brief, cordial discussion, and the man was able to share what Jesus meant to him as his Lord and Savior.
♦ After hearing the profane use of Jesus, spontaneously burst out in a Scripture quotation! Such as: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11) And then just move on – don’t say anything else about it – but continue your conversation where it left off or keep walking on your way. Just a Scripture “burst” probably leaving the person startled. haha. That verse in Philippians does say “at the name of Jesus” and you did just that!
Your input and ideas are welcome.
UPDATE: someone commenting on social media described this approach as being “gently re-directive” – Yes, let’s pray to be/do exactly that!
Let’s turn things around, and lift Jesus high!
Also: Turn off the movie or TV program if the name of our Lord is used as a curse. Stop watching it. Check online sources BEFORE you decide to watch a movie to see if it has profanity, so you won’t even start watching it to begin with. Imdb.com has a “content advisory” section where you can sometimes determine if there is profanity.
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ANOTHER post here: More thoughts about responding to the profane use of the Name of our Lord…
P.S. I have a category of posts entitled “It’s about Jesus” – see the right column. One post is here: It’s about Jesus…part 6. The honor of His Name.