BreakPoint Blog

Banner
Banner
Swearing fights pain

There's a reason you curse (or want to) when you stub your toe. British researchers have discovered that swearing is an antidote to physical pain.

So what's a poor non-swearing Christian to do?

Comments:

I think you're right LQ. What's a poor non-swearing Christian to do? Pray. And maybe, just maybe, prayers are groans of agony or loud cries or full of tears (not just rich ceremony). Christians have good precedent in Christ.
Interestingly lots of petty afflictions might seem harder to bear as they seem to lack dignity. I remember once or twice thinking that the thing that sounded most unpleasent about military service wasn't death but limited sanitation and lack of privacy.
Steve (SBK) wrote: "Aren't the Psalms filled with rage about life's apparent injustice?" // Indeed, my most excellent brother, they are. So apparently we're to be as honest with God about our situation as we can be, even if that means "praying" at the top of our lungs with neck veins bulging. Perhaps that is the answer to Zoe's original question.
Agreed. It's good to think through / learn more on this topic. Jason, I'm not certain that any thoughts are metaphysically free. I agree that minced oaths are like swearing/regular oaths *and* hypocritical (sadly, I've had my lion's share) - in the very sense LeeQuod is saying... we attempt to wrest control from God, either to ourselves or randomness, while at the same time never 'crossing the line' of what's *bad*, to keep our dignity. At the same time, I would suggest that there is a time to ... be angry with the world/God. Swearing makes promises beyond what we can control, but speaking our anger honestly ... has precedent. Aren't the Psalms filled with rage about life's apparent injustice? (I believe that we can learn to thank God in all circumstances, instead of learn to curse with the forethought of an animal).
Ellen M. wrote: "You lost me a bit here." // Hmm, I lost *me* a bit there, too. But you read my intent exactly right, Ellen; by denying that God is in control, we say that randomness is. // And we all know that "OW!" is quite different from "$@%#!!!" // Jason, you're correct; many people swear by reflex. But why don't children - like, say, Ellen's - swear, also? Clearly, adults *learn* to swear. And with that learning, they absorb some metaphysics. Zoe gave us a great post quite some time ago about the younger generation's use of "crap" as an all-purpose word that is often repeated without its implications being thought through. But as Steve (SBK) said, tongue-in-cheek I think, we can use minced oaths instead. Of course, minced oaths themselves also deny God's sovereignty, and even add a touch of hypocrisy to the mix. // Finally, as someone who was raised in a culture where swearing was casual at least and a highly practiced art form at worst, and who struggles to not be the dog returning to his vomit, I want to personally thank Ms. Sandvig for repeatedly writing about this issue. Each time, I learn a bit more and become better able to consider every idle word.
Somehow I doubt that many people are thinking metaphysical thoughts when they swear. It is more like what a cat is doing when you step on it's tail then a refusal to acknowlege that God is in control of the Universe.
"swearing reflects a refusal to accept that God is in control of the universe, and that randomness causes good and bad, empowering us to declare it so from our own personal perspective (as a demi-god in our own right)" You lost me a bit here. Are you saying "swearing reflects a refusal to accept that God is in control of the universe, and that [swearing states that] randomness causes good and bad"? If so, then a person who swears rebukes randomness for causing good and bad. What if it's a different word, like "OW!" from my 7 and 4 year olds who don't (yet...) know cultural swear words? Pain hurts. The person yells. Is this yell truly a denial that God is sovereign, or an acknowledgement that we live in a fallen, imperfect world? ... a world where sin is real, pain hurts, and we cry out to our Daddy to make it better? On the other hand, If we're not crying out to Daddy to make it better, we must be rebuking Him for allowing our sin to hurt.
Hm, apparently my last comment went into the bit bucket. My previous comment was too terse, but was intended to help people think about the difference between having a relationship with Jesus, and not having one. (See more in my comment on "I Kissed Dating Goodbye".) Apparently God wants us to have such intimate relationships that people we've never met except electronically can be so close to us that we refer to them by their first name (or first initial...). Shouting "Jesus!" without knowing him is clearly a denial of that. But even more foundationally, swearing reflects a refusal to accept that God is in control of the universe, and that randomness causes good and bad, empowering us to declare it so from our own personal perspective (as a demi-god in our own right). See Job 2:9-10 for an intense commentary on the different attitudes reflected in this point. Thanks, Z, for yet another very thought-provoking posting expressed so laconically.
I agree with Jason that rather than the actually words used, "More likely the effort of making a loud noise provides a relief and distraction." My two young children always yell when hurt. The word of choice is usually something really show stopping, like "OW!!!" The fun really starts when I'm brushing my daughter's hair: "MO-OM, you're HURTING ME!! OW! OW! OW!" I enjoyed a really great primal yell while in hospital OR while preparing for a forceps assisted delivery; got the attention of all the medical staff in the room off of their equipment and directly on me. Perhaps that's where we learn the pain-reducing value of yelling - while our mother's are literally pushing us out into the world.
There are two different ways to shout "Jesus!", aren't there, Z?
Only swear when it's appropriate? Seriously, there's no possible way it could be the words themselves. More likly the effort of making a loud noise provides a relief and distraction.
Two Words: Minced Oaths. Actually, pretty interesting. I do think that anger/aggression (as noted in the article) reduces our pain intensity. Is it fight or flight, or a sense of righteous indignation at the world's injustice? Probably relates to a reflex too, to warn others of our pain.