I’m reading a popular book for older kids and teens right now to review and it’s a great book except that the author uses God’s sacred name as a swear word over and over again. It isn’t essential to the story or even the character. She could just as easily use another term to show she’s upset.
There are a couple of things I have in mind as I’m reading and dealing with this author’s decision. First, using swear words is lazy. I’m a writer, which means words are my business. I feel that if I can’t think of a more interesting word than one any six-year-old could blurt out to show strong emotion, I’m not much of a writer. A wordsmith, which is what a writer is, should be able to show those emotions in more creative ways.
In your own life, this is also true. Using a swear word is just lazy. I was teaching a group of children about why we shouldn’t swear one day and one child said swearing made him feel all grown up. Another child, though, pointed out that the other day his two-year-old brother said a swear word. Swearing isn’t grown-up. The truth is that it’s childish. Kids first say swear words because of the shock value. They like getting people all excited because they said a bad word. Well, that’s understandable if you’re six years old, but it’s pretty sad to get it from a teenager. Teenagers know there are better ways to get attention. In the long run, swearing never helps, but it can hurt. It becomes a habit that is hard to break and it can keep you from getting jobs or cause some people to be uncomfortable around you, the same way some people won’t read an author who uses swear words—they’ve lost money for no good reason. It’s so much better to get your attention for your talents or character than to get it for saying a word a baby can say. In the eternal scheme of things, that swear word won’t do anything good.
Of course, a more important reason is that it’s incredible mean to use the name of someone you love as a swear word. Would you want your name turned into a swear word people yelled when they were mad? It’s disrespectful. If you love God and Jesus Christ, don’t treat their names disrespectfully. Names are important. They become a part of who we are. The way we use another person’s name tells others what we think of them. When we change someone’s name a little bit to make it an insulting term, we tell people we don’t love or respect that person. When we turn the name into a swear word, we do the same.
God deserves better from us. He’s given us everything we have that is worth having. He’s there when no one else is, He listens when no one else will, and He loves us when no one else is willing to. He’s more than earned our love and our respect and that includes using His name in a loving and respectful way.
Jesus Christ has also done more for us than we can ever imagine. So much pain and suffering and sacrifice just for us! He deserves to have His name spoken with sacredness and love, not with anger or casualness.
If you’ve gotten addicted to swearing, how do you stop? Some teenagers pick a new word—something silly and creative—and say it over and over. I knew one who used to yell “watermelon rinds” when he got mad. It was such a silly term it even lightened his anger because people would giggle when he said it. That made him laugh, too and improved his mood.
Ask your friends to help you stop swearing. They can remind you every time you do it, and while that’s annoying, it does help. Another method some teens use is to put a dime into a jar every time they swear. It gets expensive after a while, so they stop. On the plus side, when you’re over swearing, you have some money saved up to do something that is more fun than swearing—but don’t spend it until you are sure you don’t swear anymore.
Here’s a video about a teen who started a club for people who don’t swear. A support group can really help when you’re trying to overcome a bad habit.