If you know me well, you know that I do not use foul language. I don’t curse or take the Lord’s name in vain. If a year in my life were played back, there would not be one questionable word in my speech (though there might be some gossip….so, let’s not do a playback).
Or, so I thought until yesterday afternoon.
Obviously, there is a word that I don’t find offensive that others do. A word that I don’t generally use, but that I also don’t wrinkle my nose at.
This word found its way into one of my books.
This book to be exact.:
See, I was writing from a former Navy SEAL’s perspective, and I was trying to get into his head. I thought about what word he might use to describe being incredibly irritated and angry and…well…the word appeared. Right there. In my manuscript.
It never crossed my mind that it might offend someone.
Apparently, it didn’t cross my editors’ minds either. The book went to print with the word in place, and I have gone on my merry way, writing two more books that do not include this word (just so we’re clear).
But, the word that I didn’t think would offend has offended.
I have been kindly called to task by one reader and not so kindly called to it by another.
As writers, it is never easy to put ourselves out there. Each book is a small piece of our hearts. What we write is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. As we pour stories out onto paper, little bits of our souls peer out at the world, and the world peers back.
As a Christian writer, this peering back and forth is fraught with peril. It is not just my writing that comes under scrutiny, but my theology, my faith, my Christian walk. When I write a “Christian” book, it is incredibly important to me that I represent living faith rather than empty religion. I want to write characters who are both faith-filled and human. In the twenty-five books that I have written for LIS, I think I have done that.
Colossians 3:8 says, But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.
I have no intention of arguing about whether or not the word I used is, in fact, filthy, because I think that the truth about this situation does not lie in the verse I quoted or, even, the word itself, but rather in 1 Corinthians 8. Though the discussion in the chapter is regarding the eating of meat sacrificed to idols, I believe it applies to every area of our lives.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block….
Because I do not feel that the word I used was filthy, I do not feel guilty about using it. I exercised my freedom in Christ, but in doing so, I unwittingly upset people who view the issue differently than I do.
The last thing I would ever want to do is be a stumbling block to others. If I have become that to you, I sincerely apologize.
And, you can rest assured that I will not be doing so again.
Although, I am sure, I will slip up in some other way. I am, after all, only human! :0)