Tuesday, March 26, 2013

gosh is not a swear word: when truth is uncomfortable

Mom, did you hear [local radio station] isn't carrying Dave Ramsey's program anymore?

Yeah, I did.  Dad asked about it and I read the email reply; they said they received a lot of complaints about the program.  I don't know why, but they did.


Well. . . I have a complaint about Dave. . . he uses God's name in vain a lot.

Um. . . he does?  (have never heard this phenomenon)  Can you tell me what he says?

Oh, yeah.  He says. . . G-E-E.  And G-O-S-H. spelling out the offending words

Well, saying gee and gosh - that's not swearing.  Or taking God's name in vain.  I guess we don't like you to say gee cuz it sounds like geez which can sound like Jesus and could get you in the habit of saying that. But gee and gosh aren't really swearing, they're just idle words.  Like, there's nothing wrong with gee all by itself.

Right, like A-B-C-D-E-F-G.

Well, sure.

Mostly Dave says it when somebody gets into debit really fast.

Yep, and that was all during breakfast. 

Isn't this the stuff of parenthood?  I know that too soon, he will tire of seeking my thoughts on every subject under the sun.  He will be happy to develop his own opinions independent of us and right now is a massive window of opportunity to shape his direction with truth.

I find it tempting to avoid truth when dialoguing with my kids;  at their ages, it seems simpler, easier, quicker to just dismiss undesirable behavior with blanket statements, like drinking is wrong or saying gosh is swearing. 

But that would be at least, misleading; at worst, dishonesty.

And children are so much smarter than we give them credit for.  It won't take them long to find holes in faulty logic, and the consequences for glibly mislabeling issues seem staggering. 

As a child of God, my final authority is continually the Word of God.  God speaks to every issue under the sun;  He has answers and He cares about my life, my little people, our home, our desire to raise our kids to honor Him.  Pointing my kids to Him is wiser than pointing them toward us and rules for well-behaved children.

I want a lot more out for my kids than good behavior.

In fact I am quite okay with struggling through bad behavior if we can get to the deeper needs of their hearts and raise kids who want to walk with God.  After all, He is the God of the man who falls seven times and picks himself back up. 

Daniel and I are fallible, broken, weak;  we will disappoint our children.

Friends we admire deeply are human, frail, not meant to be placed on pedestals for our kids to follow.

The church, children of a gracious Father, includes the honest, the hypocritical, the struggling and the strong; humans will disappoint, too, flawed by their very nature.

The only constant, the only unchanging that we can point our children to is God, accessible to us because of the Man, Christ Jesus.

Wading through the issues to find the truth is messy, uncomfortable, and it takes a long time. When the discussions are tangled I hope it's okay to say. . . I don't know, let's ask God to show us. 

I respect people who don't pretend to know all the whys and I hope my children will see through my weakness to the strength of a God Who cannot lie.

As a child, I thought smoking looked so cool, and it was the cool thing to do, with Marlboro Man on billboards and a beautiful blond Virginia Slims girl in every magazine.   I'm not going to lie, I pretended my little dum-dum sucker was a cigarette on more than one occasion.  Why?  Well, definitely not because my parents smoked, because they didn't.  It is impossible to totally shield a child from culture and the newest trends.  Children are intrinsic copy-cats; they need to be walked through these stages.  How wise my parents were to reason with us through these issues;  they didn't shrink from calling sin sin, but they didn't say it was sin if it wasn't.  Smoking isn't a sin, it just isn't wise.  It's poor for your health and destroys your lungs.  Amazingly, culture caught up with mom and dad, and interestingly, smoking is quite un-cool now. 

All that glitters is not gold, but it is foolish to deny the appearance of glitter. 

Denying the obvious

racing motorcycles on a two lane highway looks thrilling to a boy

the shortest shorts look prettier to a young girl craving approval and acceptance

school is grueling

work is boring sometimes

marriage is hard

Christians fail

bad things happen to good people

is setting my kids up to find that I lied.

I don't drink.  But I don't believe that the Bible forbids drinking and we don't teach our kids that.  They hear a pretty steady diet of the destructive consequences of alcohol from their paramedic dad and they know that God says not to be drunk.  Adding to the voice of biblical wisdom advising against drinking is the foolishness of being controlled by a substance that often causes harm to others. 

But saying drinking is unwise is a lot different than saying drinking is a sin. Adding to what God says might seem easy while my kids are 6 and 8 but it will quickly become alienating and harmful as they get older and find out what God really says.

I'd rather get to the root issues of wisdom, self control and not wasting one's life than camp on thou shalt not drink. 

Or thou shalt not say gosh.

Rather I want to point them to what God really says:

[Jesus said] you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. {Matthew 12:36}

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! {James 3:7-10}

Let your speech always be with grace {Colossians 4:6}

And in contrast, the instructions He gives:  They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. {Deuteronomy 32:47}


  1. wow. this is excellent. great reminders. great perspective on raising children to follow Christ --not rules.

  2. Love this. My favorite quote: "I want a lot more out for my kids than good behavior.

    In fact I am quite okay with struggling through bad behavior if we can get to the deeper needs of their hearts and raise kids who want to walk with God."

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately as we try to get to heart issues with David when he is tantruming.

    1. Ha ha Lisa . . . your favorite line included a duh. moment typo: I meant I want a lot more *for* my kids than good behavior. But it seems you grasped what I was trying to say.

      It's a little dangerous to be writing about motherhood while in the thick of it, so please take anything I say with a grain of salt and realize I'm writing while wrestling. ;)

  3. love this :) kids needs to see us humble and human for sure!

    1. Thank you Dawn. yes. . . humble and human. I want to be that.

  4. SO refreshing and good. I'm right there with ya! And wow, do we not have the most introspective, curious, thinking kids ever?? Wow. I need a nap. My guys won't take "because I said so, and I am the m o m!" as an answer. I'm so glad, and tired for that.

  5. Excellent thoughts! wow. I want to remember this when I'm a mom someday. thanks for sharing! Betsy

  6. This is such a great post. I totally support all that you said. My 3 little boys are not quite asking these questions but I see them coming... ;/ I wish you courage today!

  7. This is so true... Never realized my need for wisdom til this parenting thing kicked in.

  8. "Adding to what God says might seem easy while my kids are 6 and 8 but it will quickly become alienating and harmful as they get older and find out what God really says."
    Oh, my hubby and I have talked about the importance of this EXACT THING so often as we seek to raise our little one-year-old. SO thankful for parents who were careful to differentiate b/w God's absolutes and "house rules".
    I also think it made a huge difference when I bacame a young adult, b/c I understood that even Dad & Mom answered to a Higher Authority and that I could always access that same Wisdom.