rebelling against low expectations

How do you respond to the crude language of people around you?


Haven WRITES: I am volunteering at a secular sailing camp this summer. A lot of the kids will take the Lord’s name in vain repeatedly throughout the day. The teachers are the same way and I want to respect their authority, because I am only a volunteer. However, I found last summer that just trying to ignore it affects my own language, so I don’t want to do that again.

I don’t know what to say to them. I want to be a witness to all of these people because I may be the only Christian influence in their life, but I also don’t want to burn bridges as the crazy teen that doesn’t want them to say OMG! Should I say something? Should I not? Should I talk to the instructors about it?

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  • My mom was a high school teacher, and at one time she had a kid swear in her class. Her immediate response was, “That is asinine language and only proves your lack of vocabulary.” Everyone was all excited(“ooh, the teacher swore in class”), which insited her to inform them that she most certainly did not swear, here was a dictionary and they could look it up.

    If it’s a kid your age or younger, when someone swears maybe try telling them that they should not swear. If they want to know why, you could point out that it shows a lack of education and if they have to swear to get their point across, they should go read more and expand their vocabulary. It could also be a point at which you could witness to them, explaining why using God’s name in vain is a big deal and how swearing affects those around them.

    If it’s a teacher/instructer older than you, I wouldn’t push it. It’s not really your place to correct them, you can only live in a way that speaks volumes.

    • I love your mom’s response, Regan! She nailed it. And your advice is excellent. It’s a different story when we’re dealing with non-believers sinning — because why would we expect anything otherwise? But there are still things we can do in light of that. Great response.

    • That’s a great way to deal with it! Stonewall Jackson said similarly, “if a man uses profanity it shows that his vocabulary is getting sparse.”

  • I find it really hard to tell adults and people my age to stop cursing. They like to curse and that’s what they’re going to do. I noticed that if a lot of people see you’re a Child of God , most of them will stop or at least try to stop cursing in front of you. But it’s really hard sometimes because some people just don’t care. If you know someone curses on a extreme level, I would say don’t be rude but try to avoid conversations with them as much as possible. I don’t believe children shouldn’t be talking filthy and I don’t see anything wrong with telling a kid to watch their language. That still might be in vain. This is another form of subtle( sometimes not so subtle) peer pressure that we should look out for. So remember the verses about corrupt talking Ephesians 4: 29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” I work with unsaved, sometimes filthy talking people on a regular basis, it can be hard because they really can fill your mind with a lot of trash. I find it best to absorb my mind with God’s Word. So stay strong in the Word is my best advice.

  • Wow, this is GREAT question. I recently got a job in a very secular workplace, and I have to deal with this on a very daily basis. And yes, I agree that it really does effect my own language. Even if I’m not using bad language, it starts being the first thing to pop into my head. I hate it! I notice myself starting to use some more crude language that is banned in my house outside of the house around others.

    As I have prayed about witnessing to my coworkers and really being a light in darkness (I am perhaps on of the only Christians in my workplace), Romans 12:2 has really stood out.

    “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    Striving to be different, even in something as small as crude language, is SO important! I am thrilled that you are trying to be an example. (1 Timothy 4:12)

    So, as far as actually CHANGING those around you, my Mom just suggested an idea. Start a discussion with your peers about it, and try to find someone who wants to stop swearing. Then do a challenge, where the person trying to stop is fined 50 cents every time they swear. Make it fun, make it a challenge, and make it a team activity. Not only will it help build a team attitude, but it will also work towards eliminating the crude language! Start with a peer, and then maybe your superiors will start to notice and want in on it. I know that I am going to try it!

    p.s. As for trying to give non-Christians a reason to not swear, try pointing out some of the reasons that swearing is looked down upon. See Regan’s post below.

    • I’m around people that cuss and use God’s name in vain a lot. And I find myself wanting to say it or it’s the first thing that pops into my head. I hate it, because my parents don’t approve.
      I like that idea.
      I’ve found I can’t control what other people say, but I’m responsible for my actions and words. And I can do my best to show Christ through what I say.
      It’s hard, but we are not perfect. And God still loves is:)

  • You obviously have a heart for those not saved. That is a good thing. May God bless you for it.

    If you have been raised in a Christian culture, it is very abrupt to be faced with the world’s way of speaking. It shows the influence that they can have on you when you are outnumbered. Think of the influences they have around them 24/10, be it movies, tv, friends, Internet and so on.

    As one not in authority, you do have to show respect for the authority’s position, not their character. I believe challenging them could prove very detrimental to you. I find the best way is to not say anything. Show your love to them. Serve them. Let them see your good works so they might glorify God in heaven. Character says it all. Live as Christ. Read your Bible and do your devotions without an audience, These are not religious people but unsaved people. They see no reason not to be like everyone else. Your actions will speak volumes. Do everything you can with God’s help to stay pure before them in in your speech and actions. Just one slip up makes you just like them in their eyes.

    And most importantly, stay in the Word and meditate on it day and night.

    In Him,
    Mrs. Jean

  • I take it you’re mainly referring to them using God’s name in vain more than actual swearing.

    To be honest, I do believe a quiet, humble example will be your best course of action. My family started a touch football team earlier this year, and our non-Christian neighbours swear all the time. I don’t want to hear it, but they don’t know any better.

    The funny thing is, after a season of playing together, (the rest of the team is Christian) they don’t swear as much! They still do, but not as much. Because swearing and using God’s name in vain are so accepted, it stands out when they’re clearly not part of your vocabulary. 😉

    As for feeling that you’re impacted by it, I would recommend praying for strength to stay pure.

  • They need the gospel. They don’t need to be conformed to more “christian” speach. That’s not to say the language isn’t an issue, but there’s a far bigger issue of their sin. You can’t just tell them to stop sinning all the time, you would giving them a false hope in moralism.

    Get to the gospel first. Talk about God’s justice and how we’ve offended him, how we are guilty and deserve even worse than death –we literally can’t die enough to pay — but then when we least deserved it, God paid for us. He satisfied his own law by living, and dying like we never could, and cleared the way for us to know, enjoy, and live for Him.

    That will change people. That addresses the deeper issue. Don’t worry about the specifics of fighting sin until they’re saved.

  • It goes all through me to hear people say God’s name, when they don’t mean it and it bothers me a great deal, and I really hate it when people use God’s name, then a cuss word.
    I also don’t know how to ask them to stop. But most people don’t care about our feelings, but it hurts. Good question.

    • I hate it, because if someone was making fun of my best friend I would stand up for and defend them. I feel the same way with my God and when they take His name in vain it hurts my heart. I’m just not sure what I’m called to do about it.

  • I totally get Haven! When I go to teen craft days at my library the teens there swear a lot! It’s constant! I don’t feel comfortable calling them out on it because they think its okay because their parents probably swear and the TV shows they watch have swearing in it. They have been numbed to swearing basically but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be a light. My sister and I are the only ones who don’t swear there and I think the kids see something different about us because when we are there they seem to swear less than when we first came and it was every other word! Pray for strength to keep your mind pure I know its hard but you can do it! Never stop praying, pray that you will be a good positive influence on the kids and that they will see Christ in you each and every day.

    • Thanks Bekah! I’m glad I’m not alone in my struggle, but I’m also sad other teens have to face it too. Thanks for the advice!

      • Gods coming back soon Haven we just have to focus on the finish line and one day we will be in a world without sin and swearing. Boy won’t that be a happy day? For now just keep strong and pray on! 🙂

  • So I actually had to deal with this at a CHRISTIAN camp, believe it or not. It was a dudes-only survival camp, so I guess they wanted to sound tough or something. When I heard them take the God’s name in vain or curse, I would give them a look. They would think about what they had said, then they became embarrassed. But later I’d hear it again. I eventually asked them point blank why they felt the need to take God’s name in vain, and they didn’t have a good answer obviously. I basically gave them a guilt trip, saying stuff like “Last night during the alter call you were praying and crying out to God, now you’re using his name as a swear word? Something’s not right.” Towards the end of the week, the cursing had basically stopped.

    Now, I know that this isn’t quite the same as your situation. You’re in a secular environment, and some of those kids may have cursed their whole lives. You can always use the Captain America line “Language!” That might draw some laughs but it might also make them think. Just ask them little things when you hear them curse. “Why do you have to talk like that man? It doesn’t sound tough. In fact, it really sounds juvenile.” Something like that. Don’t outright criticize them, just make them think about why they think they need to curse. Maybe this could start the conversation about why you don’t curse, which could lead to a speech on purity, which could lead to a speech on salvation. See what I did there?

    But again, these tips will not work for everyone. Every case is different, and unfortunately, being a Christian homeschooler I haven’t been in too many of them. In your off time, pray that God would give you opportunities to spread your light to them. Hopefully, those other kids will notice you don’t curse and ask you why.

    Hope this helps!

    • Man that is weird. It’s kind of uncomfortable for me. I want to correct them but it feels weird to me. I feel so weird sometimes that I don’t correct some guys at my youth ministry at church. What do I do?!?

      • Sounds like you need a dose of encouragement and confidence brother! Look, I know it’s rough when you go to these places that you think are “safe,” only to find that some of them aren’t too different from the rest of the world. I feel you man. Other than praying that God would give you the words to say, I say guilt trip them. If these guys are at your youth group and they’re swearing, make them think about what they’re doing. Ask them why they feel the need to swear. Ask them why they would take God’s name in vain if they also worship and pray to that same God. Ask them if cursing sets a good example for younger Christians. Hopefully, these questions will make them think about what they’re doing so God can convict them.

        But if it gets to the point where they are beginning to make you stumble in your Christianity or they are causing others to stumble, tell your leaders right away. Youth leaders and parents will end it. I guarantee it.

        In 1 Timothy, Paul charged Timothy with removing false doctrines and practices from his church. Timothy was very young, and these people he were criticizing were long-standing members in the church. The younger can teach the older. We are also to set an example for the believers. By not cursing when others do, you are proving your spiritual and mental maturity. Don’t be afraid to bring up issues to others when you know what they’re doing is wrong. Pray that God will give you boldness and confidence.

        Hope this helps amigo.

    • Wow, and at a Christian camp? Man… Great reply though! But I can’t see myself really asking people anything along those lines. I literally just try to ignore them and try not to view them differently– I tend to be prejudice, unfortunately. But while I’m in a Christian environment I might try asking those questions. Maybe challenge some of the kids around me out of love of course, not, like, judging them or something. Haha. xD

      • Yeah it can be hard. But for me, it drives me nuts to hear people talk like that in a Christian environment. In a secular one, I might be more subtle though. But thank you for the encouragement!

  • I try to ignore them and move on with my life. The people that do it out in public are never people I have met before. Once, I was having dinner with my family at a restaurant, and this one guy was swearing in almost every sentence he said. My dad almost got up to tell him to stop. He didn’t. The guy was probably drunk because he was sitting at the bar, drinking. It makes me cringe when I hear it, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t think they will stop. They would probably say “it’s none of your business,” so what’s the point in wasting my time?

    • I feel you on that one, Jessie.
      I work at a pool and people are not supposed to cuss, because it’s a family area, but the lifeguards I work with are terrible with cussing and I’ve tried to ask them to stop, but they just make fun of me.
      So I’m done with asking people to stop, and I just watch what I say. But is hard too, because it gets stuck in my brain, then it always pops into my head.
      But ya it’s hard to be around it and people don’t have respect for who is around them when they are talking.

  • I just ignore them. I haven’t sworn yet, I have accidentally used God’s name in vain, but I try not to. I someone who is swearing near me is I have to constantly hear them, I ask them to stop. This might not be the case always, but I found that one of the reasons that adults sometimes swear around teens, is that they think that we like to swear. They heard one teen swear, and so they think that we all like to swear. So usually when I ask, they look kind of surprised and say, “OK, I’ll try not to.” Hopefully this helps you not just with your camp (because that might be over by the time this is posted) but with life. God be with you.

  • I think if we sit back and ignore these people we are going to get numb to these words. I know this because it’s happened to me, we can’t fully ignore people, we still here what they say we just act like we didn’t hear them. We need to start saying something, whether it’s telling them to stop or guilt tripping them because if we don’t we could get numb to this sin and start doing it ourselves

    • That is so true. People notice I don’t cuss, and people are in shock when I do let a cuss word come out.
      But it can be hard not to, if your around it all the time.

  • Cussing used to be such a hard problem for me, and I used to “swear like a sailor” before, but when I became a true Christian, I asked God to help me, and he gave me the power to stop. However, since I had been such a harsh speaker in past times, people still don’t know that I stopped swearing, and when they hear about it, they don’t believe me. Sometimes, not cussing isn’t enough, and I know that it is really hard to point it out, especially when you aren’t really good friends with them. What I think may be good in your situation is to become better friends with those who have those problems, because people tend to open up to others that they are close to, not strangers. In the end, if they are truly good friends with you, most of the time they will respect you and your beliefs. And even if they don’t stop, you know that you have done what you can, that you have planted a seed if their mind, and you can pray too! Once a seed is planted, it is God who waters it. That doesn’t mean to sit back and relax, but to know that God is the one who changes people in the end.

  • Can someone please explain to me what it means to use Gods name in vain? If someone says ” omg ” is that using the Lords name in vain? Sorry for not answering the question, i would just really like to understand this.

    • it means using th lords name the wrong way. For example saying o my god or jesus christ in a way not glorifying God.

  • My friend at school keeps trying to get me to cuss. She goes to church and says that she’s a Christian. We’ve talked about our beliefs before and agreed that some of our views are very different but we don’t let that get in the way of being friends. I don’t cuss but she cusses nearly every other word and tries to get me to cuss even though she knows I don’t want to. She asks me questions like, “What’s another name for a donkey?” or says things like, “Here, read this out loud,” when some words that she wrote down would sound like a word if said in a certain order. Whenever I say that I don’t want to say words like that she just smiles and says that someday she’ll get me to cuss. She’s really nice and we’re a lot alike and I like being her friend but when she does stuff like that I feel like the relationship is toxic. Why is she so determined to get me to say words that I know aren’t pleasing to God? What can I do to show her that I don’t want to cuss and that I don’t like it when she does?

    • when you say rude thing that have a type of rude language and use with a nice word or if you use it with a powerful name is using and being rude and how do you not know this my 9 year old daughter knows this

rebelling against low expectations

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