“You take that back!”

by K.W. Leslie, 07 April 2016

How curses freak Christians out.

Curse /kərs/ n. Solemn utterance, meant to invoke supernatural evil, punishment, or harm.
2. v. Invoke supernatural evil, punishment, or harm.
3. n. Cause of evil or suffering.
[Curser /'kərs.ər/ n.]

Some Christians are mighty sensitive about curses. (Also mighty sensitive about “cursing,” by which we mean profanity, but I already discussed that.) Sometimes they call ’em “word curses,” which means precisely the same thing: You used your words to curse something. (How else are you gonna curse something? Waving one’s hands? Magic wands? Yeesh.)

For certain dark Christians, any negative statement—or anything they can interpret as a negative statement—counts as a curse. Fr’instance, I could say, “Hmm, cloudy day; looks like rain.” And to their minds, I just cursed the sky. Seriously. “You take that back! Don’t you call down rain on us!” As if my casual observation has the power to call down rain—and y’know, if it could, I’d make a fortune.

See, according to these folks, our words, even our idle words, spoken into the atmosphere, have the power to create or destroy. ’Cause we humans are made in God’s image. Ge 1.27 And since he has the power to call things into existence, supposedly we have the power to call things into existence. Good things or bad. Because I’m a semi-divine being, my uneducated weather forecast can actually make weather.

Which is rubbish, but you’d be surprised how many Christians believe this rubbish.

Don’t get me wrong. The spoken word isn’t a powerless thing. Words can build up; words can tear down. I can make someone’s day by giving ’em a compliment; I can ruin their life by criticizing ’em at the wrong time. That’s what Solomon meant when he wrote death and life are in the tongue. Pr 18.21 For this reason, Christians need to watch what we say. We never know the direction we’re influencing people.

But the idea my words have magical power that might trigger a reaction in nature around us, and create all sorts of unintended horrors: Not biblical. Ridiculous. And illogical, too: You’ll notice all those Christians who fear accidentally destroying stuff through their “word curses,” never worry about accidentally blessing stuff. “Gee, it looks like the weather today will be really nice!” never seems to force the clouds to dissipate. Nope. Blessings gotta be intentional, but curses can be accidental.

God’s children are curse-proof. And “word curse”-proof.

Whenever I encounter a worry-ridden dark Christian who’s terrified they’ve just been “word-cursed” by someone who wished evil upon them, I gotta remind them—or sometimes inform them for the very first time: We Christians are curse-proof.

Seriously. Curse-proof. Devil can’t curse us. Other people can’t curse us. Oh, they’ll try. It’ll range from people whom you’ve annoyed, intentionally or not, who wish all sorts of hateful vibes upon you; to Christians who pray God might smite some sense into you; to capital-p Pagans who seriously dabble in magic, trying to hex you. This isn’t just the “[Bleep] you, pal!” of someone who waves the wrong finger at you while driving; these are people who intentionally, actively want bad stuff to happen to you.

And none of it’s gonna work. At all. Not just ’cause these people’s vibes, prayers, or spells have no power. Even if they did have power, it’d bounce off you like a rigged carnival game. You have the Holy Spirit in you. You think he’s gonna let that stuff touch you? The One in you is infinitely greater than anything outside you. 1Jn 4.4

What God has blessed, nothing and no one can successfully curse. Nu 22.12 In fact, cursing what God has blessed frequently tends to have a boomerang effect: The curser gets cursed. Ge 12.3, 27.29 God can turn their curses into blessings, Dt 23.5, Ne 13.2 turn their evil intentions into mighty acts of rescue and salvation. He’s not gonna let any power they imagine they have, touch his kids. Don’t be afraid of those who curse you. Trust God.

Dark Christians, to be blunt, don’t trust God. Their whole relationship with him is purely contractual: They said the sinner’s prayer, so he owes them heaven. But they don’t really expect him to come through for them till then, and they don’t really follow him much in the meanwhile. They don’t know him well enough to know he defends us from curses—and all the other things which frighten ’em. They live in fear, not faith.

God’s children aren’t to curse people. That includes you.

Jesus, during his earthly ministry, never cursed a single human being. Not one.

People who believe in “word curses” might be thrown into an utter panic when anyone says something like Jesus’s, “Sin no more: Worse things could happen.” Jn 5.14 But that’s not a curse. That’s an if-then-maybe statement. If you don’t do P, you shouldn’t experience Q. The man Jesus was speaking to had four possibilities in his life, and Jesus was trying to steer him away from #1:

  1. Sin, and worse happen to him.
  2. Sin—and out of pure dumb luck, worse didn’t happen to him; but the chances weren’t good, hence Jesus’s warning.
  3. Not sin, and worse not happen to him.
  4. Not sin, and accidents happen—but absolutely not as a consequence of sin.

But whatever happened to this guy, the only possible result of Jesus’s statement was blessing. ’Cause if they guy heeded Jesus’s warning, worse shouldn’t happen.

Nope; Jesus cursed nobody. But he did curse a tree once. “May no one ever eat fruit from you again in this age,” he declared Mk 11.14 and within a day it dried up from the roots. Mk 11.20 Pretty harsh thing to do to that tree, but Jesus did it to make a point to his students:

Mark 11.23-24 KWL
23 “Amen, I promise you whoever tells this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’
and doesn’t hesitate in their mind, but trusts what’s spoken will happen, it will.
24 For this reason I tell you: In prayer, when you ask for anything, everything,
believe, because you’ve received. It’ll happen for you.”

It wasn’t to tell the kids, “Go ahead and curse fruit trees when they don’t do as you want.” Nor go ahead and curse people when they don’t do as we want. Curse no one. “Bless your cursers,” Jesus elsewhere instructed; Lk 6.28 “Bless your persecutors,” Paul instructed too; “bless and don’t curse them.” Ro 12.14 We have no business cursing any human being, anyone made in God’s image. Jm 3.9-10 Following Jesus’s example, Christians should only be known for blessing people.

Well what if we do curse people? Will they shrivel up like the tree Jesus spoke against? Not necessarily. God won’t say yes to evil prayer requests. Jm 4.3 Two of Jesus’s students wanted to call fire down upon the Samaritans, and Jesus rightly told them off. Lk 9.54-55 Curse people, and God’s not gonna play along. The people may feel awful on their own—remember, words have power—but God’s not gonna damn anybody on our say-so. Those kinds of judgments are for him alone to make. Not us. Especially when we dare curse a fellow Christian, one of his beloved children.

Yep, there are biblical commands which specifically forbid cursing certain individuals.

  • Don’t curse God; Lv 24.15 duh.
  • Don’t curse your parents. Ex 21.17, Lv 20.9
  • Don’t curse a ruler. Ex 22.28 (Man, are some politically-minded Christians in trouble for this one.)

When we read of Old Testament saints cursing people, often it’s any generic sinner, like anyone who makes idols, Dt 27.15 or switches a good sacrifice for a blemished one. Ml 1.14 Or any generic person who might commit a certain forbidden act, like rebuild Jericho. Js 6.26 The idea was to discourage misbehavior, not ruin particular individuals. But of course there are examples of people trying to do just that. Not every OT saint was all that saintly.

Now, cursing objects—yeah, God’s okay with that, depending on our motives. The tree Jesus cursed, fr’instance. If you have had it with that vending machine which keeps eating your money and not giving you soda, you go right ahead and curse that machine if you wanna. Condemn it to utter ruin. Of course, you might feel silly doing so… and probably should. It’s only an inanimate object, after all.

Cursing yourself. (Whoops.)

So if God won’t let other people curse us, and God won’t permit us to curse others, are there any curses we oughta worry about?

Yes. Those curses in the scriptures against generic sinners: Let’s not become one of those. Don’t commit those sins. No secretly moving the property lines around; Dt 27.17 no giving bad directions to blind people; Dt 27.18 no denying due process to foreigners, orphans, or widows; Dt 27.19 no having sex with your stepmom. Dt 27.20 You know, common-sense stuff.

And then there are the curses we call down upon ourselves. That practice is a little more common. No, it’s not necessarily where people say, “May my fingers rot off if I ever do [something to avoid],” as part of our bargains with God. Some of those oaths were kinda stupid, and God is merciful when we make dumb oaths. Just be more conscientious next time.

But God does hold people to their promises. Nu 30.2 And when we break our promises, often he’s obligated to turn off blessings till we make things right. No, this doesn’t mean he actively does horrible things to us until we shape up. It only means he won’t stop all the horrible things which ordinarily would happen. Like when ancient Israel was sinning, he let their enemies have at them. It was the curses they called down upon themselves, triggered by their own disobedience. Dt 28.45

Well, we’ve called down similar things. When you first became a Christian, didn’t you promise to follow God? Heck, just about all of us did—and we’ve made similar promises ever since. Some churches make it a regular part of their worship services, where the pastor gets up and prays, “God, we promise to do everything you ask of us!”—and all the people say Amen. Well, those promises count. We’ve obligated ourselves to God in all sorts of ways. So when we turn away from him, God won’t necessarily turn our enemies loose on us—even when we asked him to. But make no mistake: When God turns off our blessings, stuff’s gonna happen.

Nope, these self-curses weren’t accidental either. We said ’em deliberately. Maybe not intentionally—we never expected ’em to come back and bite us later—but that makes no difference. They apply.

They have a ridiculously easy solution, though: Repent!