The question “Does God use four-letter words” popped into my mind when I saw a comic-strip one of our members posted on Facebook this week. The strip has four panels. It depicts a conversation in hell.
There are two characters. The story goes like this.
(1) Man arrives in Hell. Man with horns (Satan) welcomes him. (2) Satan says “I’m supposed to torture you forever or some s—” (3) Satan adds “But God never really comes to check on us so … help yourself to the minibar or what the f—.” (4) A halo appears over the newly arrived man, and he says, “Surprise motherf—er!” Satan responds, “Ah s—!” for he realizes the man is God.
The person who shared it didn’t give any context. I was perplexed. I asked him why he shared it. He said “I found it funny, like Satan being caught unawares. Overly simplified …”
I did not find it funny. I found it false, revealing, offensive. And insightful.
I found the strip false because why should anyone believe Satan controls hell? Also, it insinuates that people who enjoy alcohol (the minibar) are likely to go to hell – which, in any case, is depicted as a place where residents can experience enjoyment.
I found the strip false because the notion presented seems to be that because people use four-letter words, God does too. Since people also lie, cheat, steal, should we entertain the notion that God does too? Does God use four-letter words?
I found the strip false because I do not believe anyone can be in the presence of God and not recognize Him. Remember Moses and the golden calf? Remember Isaiah and the burning coal? Remember the burning hearts of the disciples on the Emmaus road?
I found the strip revealing because people who clamour for the unjust to be punished in this life mock the idea of punishment in the afterlife. Listen to C S Lewis’ commentary on such people:
In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.
I found the strip revealing because I can recall occasions when Muslims took offence against comic depictions of their prophet, but I can’t recall occasions when they railed against such comic strips. (Though Muslim leaders seem more likely to voice public protests about such comics.)
I found the strip offensive because it puts an expletive (four-letter word; swear word) in the mouth of God. God, whom Jesus has taught us, grieves like a loving father over those who turn away from Him, even Satan. Would you direct an expletive – which is designed to belittle, curse, insult – to your child?
I found the strip offensive because it mocks the idea of hell, which is important in the teachings of so many faith systems: Christians, Daoists, Muslims. (Buddhist teaching does not include the concept of hell, and regards cursing as a tool of self-destruction.)
I found the strip insightful because it may be argued that Satan deserves to be insulted and belittled. I mean, wouldn’t our fathers belittle and insult those who would harm their children? Also, just think of the names Martin Luther called the priests who opposed him!
Yet, we are bound by our scriptures. Consider these:
Luke 6:27-28 “… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”
James 3:10-11 “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?”
Does God use four letter words?
Are such people more lovable, effective, or admirable because they do so?
Should parents prevent their children from using expletives?
What do you think?