The Most Offensive Word in America – Part 1 of 2

By Curt Devine


It’s at the root of every national flare-up—and it’s affecting your faith.

I once stayed at a Catholic convent full of strict, wrinkled nuns in Hyderabad, India. One night, my friends and I decided to go out for some fun, food and drinks, but as we approached the compound’s main gate, we ran into the Mother Superior. As the oldest, coldest, most intimidating of the nuns, she gave us strict orders: “Be back by 9 p.m. or we will lock the gates and release the guard dogs before you return.”

Of course, this only made us eager to defy her authority. We scoffed at her orders and ran off to eat spicy tandoori without a care in the world. We naturally returned past curfew and assumed we were in the right because the nun had encroached on our right to do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to do it. But although the guard dogs turned out to be 10-pound puppies, we strained our relationship with the convent, and our actions called our missions organization into question in their eyes.

More than a random incident of youthful rebellion, I see this as a reflection of a wider ideology that pervades our culture. We are the land of the free, the home of the brave, a nation founded on revolution and individual autonomy. These are beautiful things, of course, but they also come with a side effect.

The most offensive word to many of us is a simple, two-syllable word that insults our beliefs and violates our value system: submit.

We inherently believe no one has the right to tell us how to live, where to go or what to do. We are our own masters. I’ve heard it said that a culture can be understood through its celebrities, and so we love the ego of musicians like Shakira, the image of revolutionaries like Che Guevara and the entertainment of TV stars such as Honey Boo Boo. All of these figures represent individualist rebellion against the authorities that be. They refuse to submit—and we love them for it.

Although most of us do not rebel on the same level as the eccentrics mentioned above, we often defy authority in subtle ways. We fly down the freeway at 90 miles per hour, then feel violated when police officers obstruct our daily routines by giving us speeding tickets. How dare they tell us we’re wrong, right?

The problem is that this hostility to submission often leaves us raring for selfish gain without considering how our actions affect others. More importantly, it hardens our hearts to the will of God.

This article will continue in the next post.

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