Monday, September 3, 2012

Jesus Christ As Blasphemous Profanity

I got to thinking about profanity the other day, the ways, whys and whens people choose to curse. In the course of my thoughts about profanity I realized that Jesus Christ was pretty much the only religious figure whose name was regularly used as a curse. I wonder why that is?

I assume anyone able to read this blog already has a pretty good idea who Jesus Christ was but to summarize anyway...

Jesus is a pivotal figure in the Christian religion and influential to the entire world as well (We all use the same calendar, right? It starts - Year 1 - at Christ's birth 2012 years prior to me writing this blog entry) Christian's believe Jesus was born as the Son of God. Conceived of immaculate conception (his mother was the Virgin Mary) Jesus grew into a prophet of God and eventually powerful enough that the people in charge of things during those times decided he had to die. Jesus was arrested, tried and convicted to death by crucifixion, a particularly nasty method of dispatch that involves a large cross. Followers of the Christian faith believe Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice to all Mankind's sins. Throughout the many denominations and subsets of the Christian religion symbolism and ritual evoking the name and image of Jesus Christ can still be found today.

Jesus Christ is a very important dude to a lot of people
And recognized as such by many others who aren't Christians. People of other faiths and even people of no faith know that Jesus Christ is someone important and holy to Christians (just as pretty much everyone knows that Allah's last prophet Muhammad is someone important and holy to followers of Islam)

So it strikes me as odd that Jesus Christ's name somehow became a profane curse, a swear word used casually by numerous people (even some Christians). It just seems weird. It's not like other religious figures of importance get their names used by countless thousands of people every day as swear words...

Except maybe God, as in "God damn it!" which is more a demand that God damn something of your choosing. It's not exactly a prayer but it's not exactly a curse either. I'll let the deep thinkers figure that one out.

Getting back to Jesus...
I don't know when his name was first used as a curse and I don't know why. It seems weird that his name became a profanity still in use today. I mean, he died over 2000 years ago. He was a criminal of his time but was Jesus really that bad a dude his name becomes a curse word? An entire religion is based around his life, death and resurrection. Millions of people around the world have embraced Christ as their savior. How and why did his name end up as a modern day profanity (however mild) to so many?

And why are so many Christians seemingly okay with the name of Jesus Christ their savior being used as a casual profanity? Honestly, it seems like some Christians get more upset if someone takes a poke at the Catholic Pope than they do about the name of Christ being blasphemed in a curse. Not for nothing but followers of Islam get right upset if someone denigrates the name of Allah or his last prophet Muhammad. People have been killed for profaning the prophet of Islam. Seriously. I'm not suggesting Christians should start condemning to death everyone who usurps the name of Christ the Savior for their own use as a curse. I just find it odd that so many seem okay with it.

Maybe it's because "Jesus Christ", when used as an expletive, is actually a very mild one as curse words go. The more I thought about it the more I realized people use "Jesus Christ" as a curse of frustration, exasperated annoyance with someone or something often very familiar to the person vocalizing Christ's name as a profanity. Even parents who would never use curse words rhyming with "sock", "ditch", "truck" or "stunt" anywhere near the ears of young children will use "Jesus Christ" as a swear word around their kids. (Sometimes even directly at their kids.)

As curses go, "Jesus Christ" is a relatively gentle one. but that still doesn't explain why it became a profanity in the first place. Why pick the Christian's Jesus Christ as a name to profane? Why pick any religious figure at all? Surely there are more deserving individuals throughout history whose names would be more worthy for use as an expletive?

For example...

Why this:
"Jesus Christ, what a mess! Who's gonna clean this up?"
And not this:
"Adolf Hitler, what a mess! Who's gonna clean this up?"
Doesn't Adolf as a curse make more sense than Jesus? Hitler was a bad dude. Pretty much everyone agrees on that. Why isn't his name a curse? How could anyone choose Jesus Christ over Adolf Hitler for use as a profanity? I don't get it.

Here's another example...

Why this:
"You did what? Jesus Christ! What were you thinking?"
And not this:
"You did what? Mel Gibson! What were you thinking?"
Using the name of Christ is bound to offend some Christians (even if they don't overtly demonstrate that it does.) I don't think using my suggestion would offend anyone, would it?

I don't pretend to have any answers. I have no idea why the name of Jesus Christ became a relatively common profanity... one I've used myself on numerous occasions. I haven't suddenly become offended by it nor have I recently "found God" (or religion). I just got to thinking about things and Jesus showed up in the middle of my thoughts on cursing.

It just seems weird that there among the descriptive references to body parts (and their functions), sex, scatological humor and other swear word and curse expression mainstays, one finds Jesus Christ... a divine symbol of religion, God's love, salvation and rebirth.

Whether devout Christian or not, whether believer or atheist, doesn't it seem strange that "Jesus Christ" somehow morphed into a common curse, albeit a mild one?

I think so. The more I think about it the more it doesn't make sense. All considerations about my personal beliefs and faith aside... using "Jesus Christ" as an expletive just doesn't make sense so I'm going to try and not use it as such anymore. I'm not saying you should or shouldn't make the same decision. Cursing, like religion, is a matter of personal choice.

Thanks for reading.
Take care of yourself.

3 comments:

  1. Hello, Gordo. Someone sent me the link for this because of something I wrote on my blog, and I found it intereating and thought-provoking. If you are interested, I've responded here: http://mindrenewers.com/2012/11/29/why-is-jesus-christ-used-as-blasphemous-profanity/

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  2. Hi Gordo, I read your blog with interest. (Jon Gleason gave the link to your blog in his blog on mindanswers.com) I am a Christian, and the reason I was surfing for articles and comments on using Christ Jesus' name as profanity (I said Christ Jesus because many of us do...Christ is His title and Jesus is His "human" name) is because it does hurt me very much when I hear His name used like that, regardless of who is saying it. Sometimes the voice tone used sounds angry, and other times sounds just exasperated....but it always cuts me to the heart like a knife. I struggle with what to say: do I point out that it hurts ME? and draw the attention to myself and that I'm the one who is hurt? That really isn't the point, is it, I ask myself. If the person who swore with Jesus' name is hurting Jesus, then it's really between Jesus and that person. It's a hard decision to make in the moment: what to say and whether to say it, especially to a total stranger. I have been wanting to find "something" to say that brings honor to Jesus and doesn't snipe at the person who swore as if they are so wrong and I am so right...does that make sense? Jesus taught to love and pray for our enemies. He never said to hurt or kill someone for using His name in a blasphemous way. I don't know if you are still on this blog, but thank you for reading this comment if you do read it. Again, I really appreciated your thoughtfully written viewpoint. Betty, Chicago IL

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  3. I'm a Christian and it bothers me. I don't get it either. I personally try to never use curse words. But Jesus Christ and GD are never words I utter from my lips. I just can't do it. Thanks for writing this blog. It is good food for thought. I wish people would not do it.

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