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Is it okay for a Christian to cuss? January 25, 2006

Posted by JP in Uncategorized.
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This question is harder to answer than it initially seems.  On the surface one could easily say that passages of scripture like James 1:26 and Ephesians 5:4 indicate that it is not okay for Christians to use profanity.
 

One could easily stop with these two verses and say ‘no, Christians should not cuss’, but truly that is only scratching at the topsoil of this topic.  We have further, deeper considerations when we look at the subject, such as:
 

“What is profanity and who determines if something is profane?” And “What of Christian liberty?”
 
What is profanity?
 

I have been asked:  If the group I hang out with uses profanity and does not think there is anything wrong with it, is it really profane? 

One young man tells me that he and his buddies (Christians all, I believe) regularly cuss amongst themselves, they do not view it as profane so obviously in this context, using the ‘F’ word certainly must be okay…


One writer on the use of profanity said this:

The fact is the evidence that cussing is a sin just isn’t there.  Or at least if it is, I haven’t been able to find it.  So I say this with as little sarcasm as I can muster: will someone please direct me to the list of forbidden cuss words in the Bible?

  
To be sure, scripture does not give us a list of words which it considers profane.  The venerable comedian, George Carlin however, in his own fashion, did give us such a list.  In his bit about the ‘7 Words You Can Never Say On Television’, he demonstrated clearly that certain words are considered profane by society.  In this day and age, that list is the most concrete example of unacceptable words which we have.


Language is a fluid and living thing, words change over time, meanings change over time.  What would have been considered a cuss word in Jesus’ day, may not be in use today, or has taken on different meanings. 
 

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving

What is it that defines filthiness or foolish talk or crude joking? The culture we are living in, without a doubt. No matter how commonplace profanity is, it’s always pretty clear what words are profane, and what words aren’t. We all know this and intuitively understand it even if we do not have the academic training in linguistics or sociology to voice our understanding. We know instinctively what is considered profane by society and our culture. We then are faced with the example I stated above. 

If my immediate culture (sub-culture) accepts certain words and their use, then they must be fine…

I can only say this:  If you would not use those words when speaking to your mother or father, in church, in a job interview, or when speaking with someone you have just met, then they are clearly inappropriate for use, regardless of one’s immediate company.

It has been shared with me that some congregations (Emergent and Progressive Churches, for example) use and accept the use of profanity, and that they consider this as part of their ‘witness’, a way to reach those who may be put off by ‘religious’ people.  In fact, it seems to be a more and more prevalent course in many churches today to become worldlier in order to reach the masses.

This is hogwash. Christians are not Chameleons, changing colors to blend into their immediate surroundings.  We are to be lights in the world, noticed, and set apart, through our word and our actions.

Additionally, Christians need to always be aware of how their speech is going to be understood by those around them. As it is, the message of the Gospel is going to offend many  – our use of language should not offend them.

One indictment of Christians that I’ve heard is that “Oh, he says he’s a Christian, but listen to him talk. Swears like a sailor… I Wonder if he talks that way in church on Sunday” or something similar. We can, and should, make our points clear without resorting to profanity. Matthew Henry said this:

Filthy words proceed from corruption in the speaker, and they corrupt the minds and manners of those who hear them: Christians should beware of all such discourse. It is the duty of Christians to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring persons to think seriously, and to encourage and warn believers by their conversation.

What of Christian Liberty?
I’m troubled by the immature view of liberty amongst Christians today.  The idea of Christian liberty is becoming one of liberty as freedom from something (i.e., the Law) rather than freedom to something. The truth is: We were not freed in order that we might do as we please. We were freed so that we could finally be able to become like Christ.

Phil 2:4-5 Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Although the Law should never be replaced with an updated form of legalism, we should also not fall for its opposite error. ‘Christian Liberty’, as thought of by many today is simply a form of ‘reverse legalism’. 

Legalism basically asserts that ‘the bible says you cannot do this or that and you must do this and that, in order to be righteous, or demonstrate your righteousness’. Misconstrued liberty, reverse legalism says: ‘we are saved by grace, not of works, so anything I do which is not specifically denounced by scripture is okay’.

Grace and conscience should not be used as covers with which we justify any sort of questionable behavior we don’t want to give up. When it comes to the issue of swearing we must be guided by the Word of God, our conscience, and the Spirit. But if you claim that the Holy Spirit is leading you in your “freedom” to use such language don’t be surprised when your fellow Christians respond by asking, “What the  @*&# are you talking about?”

“well in the proper context, my Christian liberty affords me the position of enjoying these things”?

Have we really begun to take Scripture so lightly, that suddenly it’s okay to go right back to those things that we once did, said, or thought?

Eph 2:1-5  And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to this worldly age, according to the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and by nature we were children under wrath, as the others were also. But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! 

Look at verse 2: “in which you previously walked according to this worldly age,”  What does it mean to have once walked according to this worldly age? I believe the context of this verse spells it out pretty clear when we keep reading in verse 3: “We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts

If that’s not clear enough, let’s look at a few more verses:

Ephesians 4: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries
Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Have we really strayed so far from holy living, that it’s now okay for Christians to go right back to the former ways, and use the grace of God as our security blanket? To abuse our liberty to say, and do, whatever we feel like saying and doing, no matter who it offends? Someone once said “Christian liberty is not the freedom to do whatever we wish, it’s the power to live to please God.”

Does profane speech, please God? Let’s see:

2Ti 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (have we seen an increase?)
1Co 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (are we seeing what was once good, now corrupt?)

I believe the answer is quite clear that cussing, swearing, using vulgar speech does NOT please God in any way. It’s the communication of the world, which we are told again and again, to have no part of. And yet we desire to be “culturally relevant” and “progressive” and “connect” with the culture around us… adopt this speech, and think everything’s fine, “for the cause of the gospel”.

Modern Christianity may teach us this method is just fine, but Scripture has a higher standard. The real question in all this, would be: does the following attitude reflect the modern attitude? Or, does the the consideration of the use of profanity as acceptable align itself with the overwhelming admonitions of scripture?

1Th 2:1  FOR YOU yourselves know, brethren, that our coming among you was not useless and fruitless. But though we had already suffered and been outrageously treated at Philippi, as you know, yet in [the strength of] our God we summoned courage to proclaim to you unfalteringly the good news (the Gospel) with earnest contention and much conflict and great opposition. For our appeal [in preaching] does not [originate] from delusion or error or impure purpose or motive, nor in fraud or deceit. But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the glad tidings (the Gospel), so we speak not to please men but to please God, Who tests our hearts [expecting them to be approved].
Eph 4:29  Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.
1Co 15:33  Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.
1Co 15:34  Awake [from your drunken stupor and return] to sober sense and your right minds, and sin no more. For some of you have not the knowledge of God [you are utterly and willfully and disgracefully ignorant, and continue to be so, lacking the sense of God's presence and all true knowledge of Him]. I say this to your shame.
Mat 7:16  You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Mat 7:17  Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.
Mat 7:18  A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].
Mat 12:36  But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.
Mat 12:37  For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.
Pro 10:19  In a multitude of words transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.
Col 4:5  Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity.
Col 4:6  Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].
 

I hope this message encourages, convicts, and brings fruit. If you have read this a wish to defend the use of cuss words, as a believer, please reconsider what the Scriptures teach us on these things. The only “proper context” for using such language, is from the lips of a man at enmity with God, walking according to the lusts of the flesh, according to the ways of this world, defending his pride. It has no place coming from the mouth of a man or woman, professing to love Christ.

 

 

Comments»

1. kristi - January 25, 2006

Right on, Rev! I could not agree with you more whole-heartedly on this!

2. JP - January 25, 2006

Thank you! I’m expecting a rash of comments to the contrary, however, that presupposes the idea that anyone actually reads my blog…

3. theseldonscene - January 27, 2006

you’re the man! CHRISTian liberty is often abused. JESUS said we’d be held accountable for any and all idle word.

4. lyndsey harris and ainsley price - June 13, 2006

all my friends cuss and i try and tell them that it is wrong but they wont listen im gonna tell them about this site! thank u so much!!!!! christians rule!!!!

5. jessica - June 13, 2006

tis funny cuz i always thought it was kinda a given. it’s one of those things you just don’t do. and if you do then you have some heart issues that need to be dealt with. cuz what you say tends to display whats in yer heart loud and clear. and if trash is comin out of eyr mouth..then what does that say abouit whats in eyr heart?

6. Olukemi King - September 4, 2006

Thank you for this website.
Its a blessing. Thank you for highlighting the relevant scriptures for supporting the statement you made.
God Bless and Increase you

7. prima - September 15, 2006

wow thanks 4 helping me out…i was trying 2 find where exactly it says bout this subject cuz i have a friend that “enjoys” cussing and i told him the bible says that cussing is wrong and then i stumbled across ur page…wow i even learned something

8. jb - September 18, 2006

i hope your friend doesn’t claim to be a christian…

9. Solea - October 25, 2006

Amen. AMEN. I couldn’t agree more. I have always been a firm believer that Christians shouldn’t cuss, and had the verses, or, some of them, but after reading this I feel so thoroughly equipped.

I live in Germany as a Pastor’s daughter, and one of my best friends in America changed churches and I met many of her friends there, all claiming to be Christians. I have/had little other contact to other Christian youth my age, and I was SHOCKED when they ALL considered cussing, getting drunk (being underage on top of it), and even casual sex as normal acceptable Christian behavior. I was left thinking “what is Christianity coming to?”, but reading this and the responses… I feel very much encouraged. Thank you so so much and keep up the good work.

10. Bill Jackson - November 21, 2006

In the words of Dr. J Vernon McGee “Don’t blame me….these aren’t my words, its just my job to tell you what scripture has said”. Thank you for giving solid food.

11. NICK LOWERY - November 30, 2006

The one thing that all apologetic site I’ve been to that they didn’t have was a talk on cussing. I’m so glad you made this because i have heard so many people talk about how words don’t hurt people and it doesn’t matter to cuss (and most of these people were Christian). God bless you for this.

12. Vicki Driver - December 7, 2006

Okay…this is what I have to say…to anyone that cusses…you wouldn’t hear Jesus going around saying the F word every other sentence or saying God’s name in vain, so why would you cuss..it’s not the matter of why shouldn’t you cuss..Why Should You? I stumbled upon this site…I dunno how…but it was a real good topic..thanx for sharing…God Bless.

13. Kristina Taylor - December 14, 2006

Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront for other Christians to read. You put forth some very strong arguments, so much so, that any Spirit filled Christian who rationalizes using foul language for whatever reason, will definitely have something to ponder. It’s my belief that, as Christians, we are to live in the world, but not be part of it. And this not only has to do with behaviors, philosophies, attitudes, or perspectives that the world deems acceptable – it also has to do with linguistics. The words we use in our daily language are a reflection of how much world we’ve allowed to seep into our christian walk. And I would like to challenge all Christians who read this article to clean out their language banks so to speak, and reflect upon who they are supposed to be reflecting when the take on the identity of a Christian. A flame is meant to shine light – and as believers of Christ, we are living in a world of darkness. Brothers and sisters of the faith, let’s keep our language clean!

14. greg y - March 1, 2007

hey man. i like this article a lot. i have a guy whos about 4 years older than me who is an older brother figure for me. He is like a mentor and is always challenging me in my walk with God. His most recent challenge was for me to find out why cussing is wrong. He asked me why its wrong to cuss… and i honestly could not give him an answer. This really gave me something to think about..and he told me to write a paper on the issue, and i plan to use some of what you said. I do have a question though. The profane words that are censored off of TV are deemed inexcusable for Christians to use. What about the iffy words that are substitued for cuss words. Words that aren’t cussing, but aren’t really necessary either. Words such as crap, dang it, shoot, etc. I’ve always wondered about this. If you could just send me an email I’d really appreciate it buddy.

15. J - July 28, 2007

Has anyone checked out the contexts and the situations of the verses that are posted in this blog? 1 Cor 15:33 is talking about those being misled by the sadducees who were teaching the resurrection was not true. Paul was warning the people to stay away from false teachings.

2 Timothy 2:16 is also talking about teachings of false doctrine, not against cultural cuss words.

If I wanted to, I could use 2 Timothy 2:14 for my argument: “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” But then I also would be taking that verse out of context.

16. JP - July 28, 2007

J, what’s your point?

17. J - July 29, 2007

My points are that people shouldn’t take verses out of it’s context to conform to their argument and that saying, “Shit” or “Damn” is not a sin unless those words cause a person to have impure thoughts and stray from the Lord. Words mean so many different things to different people and substitutes like “darnit” or “crap” can very much offend someone as well. I’m not going to go say some words in public because people may become offended or stumble.

Some of you believe that cussing is a sin though you may slip on a few words but you felt bad so you started using the substitutionary words…why would that be better than using the original word? Does it make you feel unclean inside when you use the word “crap”? It does to me so I would appreciate it if you don’t use that word around me. But if you wanna express a pain you just had by saying “Shit!”. I won’t be offended one bit nor will it make me think of anything impure. People make words impure.

There is nothing in the Bible that narrows it down enough for us on which words we are and aren’t allowed to use. It states though that if it causes are brothers to sin then we should take in regard to that and refrain from using certain words they struggle with.

18. JP - July 29, 2007

So what, exactly, are you stating that wasn’t already stated in the post?

Wasn’t it my closing paragraph which said:

“I hope this message encourages, convicts, and brings fruit. If you have read this a wish to defend the use of cuss words, as a believer, please reconsider what the Scriptures teach us on these things. The only “proper context” for using such language, is from the lips of a man at enmity with God, walking according to the lusts of the flesh, according to the ways of this world, defending his pride. It has no place coming from the mouth of a man or woman, professing to love Christ.”

19. Joshua Adams - August 4, 2007

1 Corinthians 8:8-13

8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Think about it. Even if doing something causes a brother to stumble or offend.. we should not do it.

20. JP - August 5, 2007

I agree Joshua, which was the point of the post, was it not?

21. Kyle - August 19, 2007

I may be considered one of those “brother’s in christ” who has a “weak conscience” because it shakes my whole being when Christians cuss among themselves, and a good friend of mine is an advocate of this mentality– in fact he sort of ridicules me for ever being offended by it, because cuss words are just words. Having been ridiculed recently (I don’t much like to use this word about my friend, but I think that is what he did) this forum has been very helpful to me, and very reassuring. It does seem that whenever I look to the Lord and his word for the answer to something, the result is that I find myself at peace. I mean only to say that I appreciate this post.

22. JP - August 19, 2007

Thanks Kyle. Have your friend read it and give the matter a little thought.

23. Josh King - October 28, 2007

I could not agree more with you. I am one of these young Christians that may be called socially liberal but on this issue I just do not see the justification. To me and apparently to you as well it is very clear that the instrument that God gave me for the specific purpose of sharing the gospel should not be used profanely. I do have some of those friends who say that they are being missional by speaking the way the unreached do. They will add that the Gospel is offensive. To which I reply that I can minister to both those who curse and those who do not without being shut out. They can not minister to those who do not. That is not a good exchange. As far as the offensive thing – the Gospel is always offensive but the method should not be.

Good post.

24. JP - October 29, 2007

“As far as the offensive thing – the Gospel is always offensive but the method should not be.”

and all the people said: AMEN!

25. matt - October 30, 2007

hmmmm….interesting stuff here. im not sure any of you can say for sure that cussing is wrong or right. you havent asked God about the issue. it could be either way. i’m not here to argue on one side. i just came to this to see if anyone had a good verse to point me in the right direction, but i didnt see one, just controversial verses left and right.

26. JP - October 31, 2007

Matt – “just controversial verses left and right.” Matt, I would be interested to see what verses you consider ‘controversial’.

you havent asked God about the issue. Really? and you know this how exactly?

I’m wondering though, are you looking for a verse that says “Thou shalt not cuss” ?

27. wordsseldomsaid - November 5, 2007

or either looking for a verse that says, “thou can cuss”?…

28. Ish - November 19, 2007

It’s funny when I read this (I agree by the way, that cussing does not honor and glory to God) because I see so many pointless arguments. It is clear that cussing bothers people so with Philippians 2:4 in mind we must listen and if you agree that there is nothing wrong with cussing then you must look at 1 Corin 8:11-13 (implies anything that makes your brother stumble romans 14:19-23). To argue with someone only proves that there is somehting more hidden in that individuals life, and for those the saying by Joseph Dunninger is true: “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, none will suffice.”

29. Tracy - November 22, 2007

Thanks for this great article. My two boys (ages 20 & 16) have decided that since everyone else is cussing, they should be allowed to watch movies and play video games with cussing. Mom (me) and Dad (the pastor!) have said NO, but they need reasons, of course. Thanks for giving me lots of good reasons and for standing up for what is right.

30. CJ Jeffcoat IV - December 15, 2007

This is exactly what I needed to refute and ‘Christian’ friend of mine who uses the whole progressive witness argument. Thanks for being intelligent, profound, and Godly.

31. June - February 11, 2008

JP, thank you for your thoughtful, well written post. I enjoyed it.

However, I want to pose a few ideas.

“What is it that defines filthiness or foolish talk or crude joking? The culture we are living in, without a doubt. No matter how commonplace profanity is, it’s always pretty clear what words are profane, and what words aren’t. We all know this and intuitively understand it even if we do not have the academic training in linguistics or sociology to voice our understanding. We know instinctively what is considered profane by society and our culture.”

If we look at the majority of American society, you could argue that profane words were distinguished by Christians. The word “profane” in itself means to be unholy or vulgar. What my point is is that I believe Christians initiated the split in what is good language and what is bad morally. This means that in America, we have defined what is correct Christian character.
I am not saying this is bad, for I believe that most cuss words are used in hateful and angry contexts, therefore there is a needed discernment between what is acceptable to say and what is not.

However, I believe that certain words that are deemed cuss words by this possible “Christian Collective” are too legalistic. Words such as “damn” or “ass” are automatically labeled as cuss words. When you get into the philosophy of words, I feel that context is the number one criteria that should be used in whether it is sinful to be using it or not.

If I said, “Oh boy, my butt hurts”, no one would care.

However, if I said, “Oh boy my ass hurts”, most Christians would be offended.

In this situation, I think that the second phrase would not be right to use not because it is “cuss word”, but because he offended other Christians. In a world where Christians accepted “ass”, there would be no offense taken and therefore it would be acceptable to say.

I believe, you should watch what you say wherever you go, but if I am with people who understand what I mean, I don’t feel convicted to not say “Oh by my ass hurts” around people who understand my theology.

My point is that certain words are in my opinion labeled cuss words by the “Christian collective” and that if someone uses it, they are automatically sinning. I disagree with this whole-heartedly. The context of your words are the criteria for if you are using it in an immoral way.

If I said, “You are an ass” to someone and meant it, it would be sinful because I cursed him out of anger. This would be a more better criteria to say why a cuss word is wrong.

I feel that if every Christian realized that dang and “damn”, butt and “ass”, and crap and “shit” were interchangeable, the automatic judgement of “you are sinning” would be completely different. That if every Christian realized that cuss words themselves are not immoral, but the context of their usage is what defines immorality, I definitely think Christians would be looked upon in a different light.

I think today’s stereotype of a Christian is someone who will judge you by your words. I am not advocating cuss words, I’m just advocating a new approach to viewing words and their actual meanings.

Also in response to this.

“I can only say this: If you would not use those words when speaking to your mother or father, in church, in a job interview, or when speaking with someone you have just met, then they are clearly inappropriate for use, regardless of one’s immediate company.”

I don’t regularly practice use of the f-word or b-word, but I do say “ass” and “damn” occasionally. However, I feel that your statement is inadequate because I believe its just being considerate when you don’t “cuss” around them. If they are offended, then don’t cuss out of consideration. It doesn’t mean its inappropriate. I say “ass” and “damn” around my mother and she understands me completely. I don’t use those words around others out of consideration. Just because someone else thinks it is inappropriate to say does not mean I should never use it.
In the workplace, I feel its just part of being professional. You should not cuss in the workplace because it is a taboo.

32. wordsseldomsaid - February 15, 2008

if my insomia was not wearing off…i would ask you do you honestly think societies that are not CHRISTian don’t have taboo and what is considered vulgar words?….they do and that alone makes your argument about it being some CHRISTian idea total irresponsible…

33. June - February 16, 2008

Wordsseldomsaid, are you referring to my post?

34. FM Gildae - February 17, 2008

I think this is a great article, primarily because of the scriptures noted. However, I think the writer missed a very important aspect of why cursing is not acceptible for a Christian. If you focus on the emotion or motivation behind the cuss word, it becomes clearer. Typically when one is using a cuss word, he is complaining about something, either mildly or angrily. Scripture clearly indicates that we are not to complain. Ref: Philippians 2:14. Exodus 16:8. Therefore, even if we were to use “fudge” in place of the typical “F” word, fudge then becomes a curse word. If it were used in that manner consistently enough in our society, it would eventually be recognized as a regular curse word. Basically, anytime we complain, regardless of what words we use, we are complaining against God, because it is He who has allowed (not caused) this “thing” we are complaining about to come into our life, since everything that comes to us must come through Jesus first, even if it’s not His perfect will. Once we change the complaint (curse word or otherwise) into praise, we are putting the “problem” into God’s hands, rather than rejecting it completely. (Ref: Merlin Carothers Power in Praise), and He can then begin to use or change the circumstance we are not happy about) to our advantage.

35. Shannon - February 21, 2008

I am stunned that we as Christians need to have this discussion. Are we not supposed to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit? Are we not supposed to separate ourselves (our behavior) from that of the “World” around us?
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. DO NOT CONFORM ANY LONGER TO THE PATTERN OF THIS WORLD, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12 1-2(NIV).

Before Christ came into my life I had a terrible, terrible mouth. I could construct a full sentence of curse words and, sadly enough, the people around me were not offended. We as Christians have are to be changed from the inside-out. This means our motives which lead to our actions. People must know we are Christians by our methods and actions. Cursing as defined by “society” is a dangerous way to gauge whether or not you are sinning or not as it relates to language. The “7 words you cannot use on TV” is no longer applicable when on open-air TV stations they use some of those 7 words now days. Looking for a specific list of verses that identifies the actual words not to be used is, of course, non-existent. This issue is similar to drunkenness – “I can drink a lot but I cannot get drunk, that would be a sin”. Well, how much is “a lot”? What does the bible indicate as “drunk”? What does society say is “drunk”? The law gives us different indicators of what drunk is depending on the situation (driving vs walking around drunk – public intoxication). If you feel that your judgment is impaired at ALL then you are suffocating the Holy Spirit’s ability to communicate with you. This is dangerous as we then only have our own will and our measly means of self-control to guide us.

In the end, if we are in communication with God and are being led by the Holy Spirit then these decisions of what to say and what to do are simple. If you can say a word that you have internally justified to be “ok” but, regardless of appropriateness, offend other people, it is wrong. If you are in a situation where the temptation to curse or use vulgar language (could be a vulgar joke that does not even use cursing) is the norm then you are still not off the hook. You may be around other people (Non-believers or believers) who pay no attention to your use of cursing and therefore are not offended but if you are being led by the Holy Spirit in your life, you WILL feel the Holy Spirit prompting you, urging you, supporting you to be Holy, to be “different”, to be what God wants you to be – a witness that God’s power can change anyone from the inside-out – proving that you are no longer conforming to the pattern of this World.

Praise God!
Have a blessed day.

36. Crucifight - April 3, 2008

Why is it that this is one of the few issues in which a Christian must do what is considered or perceived virtuous by the world?
If non-Christians perceive an inconsistency in the “cussing Christian”
is that an indication that they (the ubelieving) in fact believe that it (cussing) is wrong or that it just seems to them that this is the contradicted object of Christian teaching? The problem with this issue is that there are a whole other slew of Christian teachings that are based on the premise of rejecting the moral insights that the world has to offer. If it were true that we offend a non-Christian and must blend with their insight in this area than every other offensive thing (even some of the things we cannot change without going into heresy…) must be modified so we do not “offend” them. Not saying i totally support cussing but I am also not saying we have a justifiable defense against it via the “Cultural Norms” argument.
In some countries there are cultural norms of forced abortion,tyrannical dictatorship,fascism,etc.etc….if therefore we must not “offend” someone… we suspend morality…This is why I believe there must be a better reason why cussing i bad.
The only other reason I can see cusssing as “unsalty” is that it takes intelligent word use out of conversations. But we may need to redo our whole language so there are no remaining double meanings.

37. Judgement, condemnation, and acting right in the eyes of our Lord… « JP’s Mind - April 21, 2008

[...] Bible Study/Reference, Discussion, Faith, Scripture. trackback In two earlier posts I discussed if it was okay for Christians to cuss and profanity and the Christian and I made no bones that I felt scripture makes it clear that the [...]

38. changed by a phrase… « JP’s Mind - June 12, 2008

[...] other Christians about cussing, and other things of the sort. In an earlier post I had made called Is It Okay for Christians to Cuss I talk about my thoughts on the idea of cussing and the ‘perception of sin’ and its [...]

39. Heather - June 25, 2008

I don’t cuss normally, but on rare occasions and to those I have intimate relationships well enough they know my heart, I let one go because the particular word is the only one in our vocabulary that expresses my feelings/thoughts at that time. I only have done this around my closest brother and sisters in Christ and it’s only to express something vividly (not name call, etc). I would not do this around an unbeliever for the pure fact they don’t understand my thought process yet and may be turned away.

With all that said, what are your thoughts in this context?

40. JP - June 26, 2008

Heather,

What can I say? People do what people do.

Do I think it is okay that you use ‘cuss’ words in particular circumstances? I cannot say anything about that beyond the truth that I feel it is unnecessary, ever. Certainly it happens, it happens to me, but that does not take away from the fact that I do not do so intentionally, nor do I feel Christians should do so.

I would challenge where you stated “because the particular word is the only one in our vocabulary that expresses my feelings/thoughts at that time.”

I think that this is a convenience for us, to use a word, or words, off the cuff because it seems to express what we feel at the moment, rather than take a moment to use other language that can, and will, express those feelings just as well. This is an argument from intellect and consideration. I ‘let one go’ from time to time simply because I am too lazy to do otherwise.

However, with all that being said, I think the main thing to consider here is the conceptual truth of foul language not bringing glory to the Lord and our role as Christians in that concept.

41. Kyle - February 24, 2009

Hey, I didn’t have a chance to read all of this but I googled “christians and cussing” because someone at my school has a terrible mouth but wears a cross around their neck every day. I want to show them how it’s wrong but I needed some good scriptural evidence (hopefully more than James) to support. Thanks for this article, i agree that cussing is NOT glorifying God!

42. Aaron - April 22, 2009

I would appreciate it if I could get some feedback on this.

Let me start off by saying that 22, and I’ve already worked in some places where some people tend to use more colorful language on a regular basis. One point I want to make first is that for me, the constant use of “curse” words simply makes a person just come off as uneducated and a simpleton. I’m not advocating that anything and everything goes.

However, when I read the verses on rotten language, I think the author is trying to get at something deeper. It’s already been mentioned here, but I’m talking about motive. All throughout the New Testiment, the Bible states that we Christians are now under the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law.

2 Cor. 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

When the previous reference was talking about rotten language, I don’t the Bible is talking about specific words. Let me take another detour. I have an Aunt Karen who has Down’s syndrome; because of this, she has partial mental retardation. In today’s PC world, the term “mental retardation” is now frowned upon. It’s not because there is something wrong with the word, but too many people were using it in vulgar ways. My mom (my aunt’s sister) finds it offensive when people say Karen is mentally retarded, however the definition of mentally retarded is identical to mentally challenged. I refrain from the former around my mother simply because it makes her feel uncomfortable. However, just because I don’t use this word around my mother doesn’t mean I think it’s taboo.

Maybe some of you will disagree with me here, but I believe if you can replace a word by its definition and the newly formed phrase is not offensive, then the original shouldn’t be either. One example as already stated above to exhaustion would be the word ass. If some is simply referring to you hind quarters in a normal way, I see no reason why the word ass would be considered rotten or vulgar. The phrase literally has the exact same meaning. I have a feeling for a lot of people are more offended by the sound of the word ass then by what it actually represents. The Bible (at least mine) contains the word ass several times, however its referring to a donkey. From this I’ll conclude that there is nothing inherently wrong with the sound of the word ass (stick with me here, I know this is kind of rambling). The other problem would be with its meaning. However, its meaning is inherently bad either. The only other option to go with is context. In a situation were someone is using the word in a context were one of its synonyms would be approprite, I feel I must conclude the same for the “curse” word itself.

Like I said before, I’m not advocating everything and anything goes. However you also have to look at the converse of the above argument. It’s very possible (and probably happens daily) for one person to tear another person down uses just words that are never considered offensive anywhere. What comes to my mind is “Driving Miss Daisy”, a movie I personally like. Throughout the movie, Miss Daisy treats Hoke like a child and a jerk through her constant complaining and bickering. She doesn’t use any bad words (at least I don’t think she did) but her language would definitely be considered rotten towards Hoke.

For me personally I find a few words rather offensive. One word in particular that is used to describe a woman as a dog. I don’t really like when people use it. Not when they’re referring to women or when they’re using it in other forms either.

In closing, I just want to look at the rotten language verse again and ask, is the writer trying to keep us from certain words, is he trying to keep us from talking in evil ways in general (talking meanly or putting someone down), or is it both? It’s pretty obvious that it’s not the first one, because that would be implying a finite list of dos and do nots, and that beyond that you could talk as you please. Could it be both? Well, if he was, then he’s basically saying “watch the overall context of your language and make sure your speech is edifying to other, except in situation x,y,z where context doesn’t matter.” That seems kind of odd, to make a general statement about context and then follow it up with some exceptions to the rule. I don’t think the Bible is about that. Therefore, I’m concluding that the author wanted us to watch the overall context of the language and to be careful of the meaning of our speech.

Let me iterate one final time that I’m not advocating anything and everything goes. Paul mentions that certain actions that are permissible can be stumbling blocks for others. Christians need to always be careful with the words they use, as it is a reflection on the church and Christ. However to state that a word in and of itself is evil or sinful is not an idea I believe the bible supports.

43. JP - April 23, 2009

Hey Aaron, you’ve made some interesting points which I would like to explore further, but for now I just want to point out that some of the ‘intellectual gymnastics’ you discuss that would seem to justify using foul language would be rarely, if ever, engaged by the average person who hears someone use ‘foul’ language.

44. Aaron - April 23, 2009

Yes, I realize this. That’s why I myself don’t really use it at all.

Although, it’s a similiar situation with the topic of alcohol. I personally enjoy a beer now and then, but responsibly. I’ve never been drunk and never intend to be. However, I’m also careful about who I do this around and who I talk about it with. Not because I’m ashamed or hiding, but because I don’t want to be a stumbling block for anyone else. I also don’t want to come across to other Christians as “Hey, I do this, and I’m allowed. What are you gonna do about it?” I just try to exercise self-control.

45. Kristen - July 18, 2009

Ok. I’m a Christian, and I do cuss sometimes. I’ve cussed off and on since I was 14. I’m almost 20. When I cuss, I actually feel closer to Jesus. I pray, worship, evangelize, and study the Bible more. I do all those things honestly because I’m HONEST WITH HIM! I don’t hide it from Jesus. Now, when I feel ‘convicted’ and I try to stop cussing, my praying, worshipping, etc declines because I feel too horrible about myself to do those things. I accept my cussing as a thorn in the flesh because it is only one sin among many and I am a sinner. I will never be perfect so why should I try to be? Even Jesus ‘never thought equality something to be grasped’ (Phil. 11). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that someone should sin. The Bible clearly states that sinning is not good, but I am saying that sometimes you have to let things go. To me, as long as I am staying pure until marriage, not using drugs, not smoking, and not abusing alcohol (waiting until I’m 21 and not drinking too much.), I’m doing fine.

Typed on my ipod touch so please excuse the typos.

46. Floyd Rogers - August 15, 2009

Where in the Bible does it say that we “shall give an account of our idle words or profanity?”
I do not use profanity openly unless around someone I know that accepts it generally. I do not use the name of God in vain at all ever in my life, nor will I ever. I have been badly talked about by others that use the name of God in vain saying that I use foul or bad words to them. Actually, I use MF, F, SOB, and these are the words that I say only and when I say I am a Christian I am condemmed harshly. I do not think of these words as being bad only if they are directed to me in an offense way such as “you are a F Bas. and you are a SOB and you are a MF. Then I can say one is wrong to do that. But, a Christian can say you are lazy, no good for nothing, infidel and on and on but yet they do not judge? I have a hard time understanding whom has a right to judge another completely. I say if you do not like what a person says then leave them alone and never have anything to do with them if you want or just accept them and lightly teach them in a more ease of understanding of their might be wrongs. People go to Hell because of their bad hearts.

47. Aaron - September 3, 2009

@Kristen

I think your on a slippery slope here. Just because you’re not perfect doesn’t mean God doesn’t expect your best. This is the catch 22 of God’s law: he demands perfection yet it is impossible for us to reach it. That’s what Jesus was for. You talk about feeling convicted for using certain words. People having different convictions for things like word usage, drinking, giving, etc. but if you have those convictions and then choose to ignore them and say “Well I can’t be perfect anyway, so who cares”, then that is sin. One person might have a conviction not to watch a certain movie, but if he feels this and then decides to watch it, that’s wrong too. Obviously we need to constantly be checking our convictions and actions with what the Bible says (we can’t just use the “I feel this is right” standard), but like it or not, not every moral or ethical issue is spelled out in the Bible. In many situations, we need to use its words and come to our own conclusions about what the right thing to do is. However, if you conclude on a right action and then choose to disobey, you’re still in the wrong.

Also, not to be condescending, but you’re going to have a very hard time convincing me or anyone else that using or not using certain words makes anyone more or less worshipful, especially words that you admit you have convictions not to use.

Lastly, my argument was not that certain words are worse or that certain words are better. Words are words; its a person’s context and meaning that gives the words their power.

48. Aaron - September 3, 2009

I can’t believe I just misspelled “you’re” in the first sentence. Please excuse my misspellings and split infinitives.

49. JP - September 3, 2009

Aaron, I believe you are touching upon some truth here.

50. Anne - September 14, 2009

This article is amazing and is convicting me even right now. I have struggled with whether or not it is ok for me to swear and this article sheds so much of God’s truth on the subject. THANK YOU! One thing I have noticed is that swearing for me is kind of like a “gateway drug” it opens me up to more anger, harsh feelings – I pray my heart will change and I will stop swearing…

51. zach - September 24, 2009

Cuss words are, well, words. Just that. Slang. Not sinful unless you make them sinful.

Example: You’s hammering a nail into the wall, miss, and hit your finger. “Aw, shit!” Or you eat a horrible meal at a restaurant and later that night say the food was “kinda sh*tty.” There’s nothing bad about that. It’s descriptive, maybe somewhat vulgar but it’s being used in private. And one must remember there is a time and a place for everything.

On the other hand, screaming profanity at another person in anger, or using a profanity to describe another person (“That a**hole!”) would clearly be sin.

Perhaps you have to think about it in this way: WWJD. Jesus was a man, divine, but still had human qualities. Do I believe he used the occasional swear word? Maybe. A mouth like a sailor? Doubt it. Did he direct swear words towards others? No.

Further, does anyone think God wants them to spend time splitting hairs an pondering what words are “cuss words” and what are not? Gluteus, bottom, butt, ass…Get real!

52. zach - September 24, 2009

Wow, looks like my original comment has been deleted. Nothing offensive or off-topic in it. Hmm.

So I’ll keep this short. There’s nothing wrong with swearing, unless it’s directed at another person. But one must remember there is a tme and a place for everything.

Amazing how some people think God would be so petty. For those of you who think the occasional foul word is sinful, how about being overweight? As the body is a temple, is this not a sin as well? Funny, I don’t see too many pastors preaching sermons that condemn obesity.

JP - September 24, 2009

Zach, perhaps you should read the post. It looks as if your protestations have little to do with what I wrote.

53. scott - September 28, 2009

I hope this isn’t too far off topic but I just wanted to say something:
Praise God!

My dad uses the “I cuss to bring glory to God in evangilizing to others who would otherwise not hear a word of it” excuse. Do I even need to point out that he cusses so much more, and I suspect he doesn’t even realize it?

I have an issue with eating, as zach said. And even though I recognize it… and hate it… something in me keeps me eating and eating, and even more so when I’m around other people who are seeing this example I set! I keep praying and praying, and hopefully this nice little proverb about a knife to the throat being better than this overindulgence (very paraphrased) will help… and some good undeserved grace from God of course.

My wife, what little money she has to spend, shops, and shops, and gets on line and shops some more. Even with no money, she shops for the things she’s going to shop for when she does get a couple bucks.

I can say, at least in my and my wife’s case, we recognize the sin… which may be better or worse… but I have high hopes it’s a step into turning away from it… anyway this could get really deep so here’s what I was getting at:

Thank God, OH Thank God that in spite of how filthy we are He still has saved us. The main reason I look forward to heaven is that my understanding is *I* will no longer be a sinner…. Thank you God. Thank you.

54. Bryan - October 12, 2009

Solid message, great practical tools for living. Thanks much! God Bless!

55. Kristen - November 20, 2009

@Aaron

I’m a freshman at a Christian liberal arts university. Unlike most freshmen, coming to college has actually SAVED my faith. Why? Because I’m allowed to be myself. Over the summer, I was struggling with this issue. I had Christians telling me it was not good, Christians telling me it was ok, non-Christians telling me not good, and non-Christians telling me it was ok. I felt pulled in 4 different directions. I did a lot of soul searching over the summer and this fall, and I have decided that I will not get down on myself for saying a cuss word here and there because that was the cause of my doubt about staying a Christian. I think God would prefer my remaining a devoted follower of HIs who sometimes cusses over being a down-trodden use-to-be Christian. All Jesus has commanded me to do is to continue to profess Him as my Savior and to love Him and others. I am honestly grateful to Jesus for what He did for me. Even as I say that, my heart feels uplifted. I know God is well aware that I may say a few cuss words. I actually prayed about it.

I had the amazing blessing of going to Australia two summers ago on a mission trip with my church. The Christians there cuss up a storm but yet they are fully devoted to God. I met a high-school age girl who was beaten up everyday at school for being a Christian. Christians there are treated like lower class people. So what if they cuss? Their devotion to Christ is definitely evident. They’re martyrs in my book and most likely in God’s book.

Here a couple of passages I live by.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:1-6

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” – Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)

56. JP - November 20, 2009

Kristen, you have some interesting points of view, and as it is with a few things in this life, one must live by the convictions given to them by the Holy Spirit.

This post has received numerous comments and through all of them I’ve yet to see anyone give scripture that convinces me that cursing brings glory to God.

I suppose that when it comes down to it I think about this:

Eph 4:29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

1Co 10:23 All things are legitimate [permissible--and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].

57. Kay - November 22, 2009

Great article. I teach a Youth Sunday School class and was looking for added scripture and explanations about why cursing is not appropriate for God’s children. You’re article was a great confirmation and I appreciate your ministry very much! God bless you!

58. joey - February 23, 2010

thanks for this message, i agree with you, why should you cuss. my friends cuss and idk if they are christians or not sometimes my mom even cusses and she is a christian. but i will pray to almighty god and i know he will help.

59. Kat - June 22, 2010

WOW. Thank you for forming my opinion on this matter! HAHA.

And I mean that seriously. Through my own studies, I could never find a clear-cut answer. I would tell my Christian friends to look at James 3:10, but I never had a really good answer to tell my non-Christian friends why I chose not to curse. (Especially because I think that the passage in James is more about cursing and hating others.)

I’m bookmarking this. Thanks! =)

60. C - November 30, 2010

Doing a search on ‘cussing’ and found your site…Thank you for sharing this valuable information! I too struggle with cussing here and there….I was raised around parents who cussed and thought nothing of it and still don’t even being christians…so here’s my dilema, Im a Pastors wife….!!! YIKES, I know! I dont cuss all the time so dont get me wrong, but when something upsets me out a word will come…or just even saying words like “c ap!!! I know its wrong and Ive read the scriptures…I know its a part of me that needs healing…so pray for me, cause Im being convicted that I shouldnt say “ANYTHING’ wrong words even slang curse words…Im HIS vessel and I know HE wants a clean house and were working on it, so dont condemn just know even PW’s struggle and Pastors too…its the one sin besides pride that I know we all struggle with, that I havent been delivered from…but Im getting there…thank God Im not where I use to be….”f” word was every other word before Jesus!!! Thank you for your site! and the “insight”

61. kelley - January 17, 2011

my issue is that my 18 year old daughter thinks there’s nothing wrong with the foul language in movies since she “says” it doesn’t make her want to cuss. The fact is that I have heard her cuss when she didn’t know I was around. When confronted, she says it didn’t come from the movies, but she hears it in everyday life. How can I convince her, according to the bible, that is does dishonor God, it makes her look bad if others know she watched certain movies, too. Maybe she just doesn’t truly want to know the truth and I asked her to research it for herself. She said she didn’t need to because she didn’t feel it was wrong.

62. Tim - May 9, 2011

Like the above poster , I was searching this information after hearing a passage yesterday in church about going to church but not acting church like when outside of the walls (don’t be a hypocrite). The thing that gets me about cussing is not so much the context of the settings but the context of the meaning. In the first quote you listed :

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving

This says to me not to be mean , degrading or find humor at anothers expense. Do not ” Bad mouth someone”

Now when in certain context , when two words can mean the same thing with no ill will or intent; I struggle to see where it’s God’s or Christ’s judgement that we are concerned with. It’s the society that we live in that puts words in the “cuss” catagory rather than the intention of the words as a cussing intention.

Where is Shucks a better word than Sh@t if both are nothing more than an expression of frustration ? Where is crap better than the same word when expressing a bowel movement ?

Just as the bible uses the word ASS in reference to a donkey , the word itself is not bad. It’s the meaning and intentions that the speaker is using the word in that makes it bad. Asshole in today’s world by itself is not a bad word when describing the anal passage of waste, or a hole that donkeys may go into frequently to drink.

But when used as a name to describe someone who has upset us or in a derogatory form it is indeed inappropriate and un-Christ like in my opinion.

That being said, there are certain words ( F-D-P-C ) that to me only conjure the most negative images in my mind and therefore I don’t like to say or hear them. I believe this is mostly due to my former days of listening to hardcore rap and the usage of the words in that context.

Just a few thoughts I’ve had over the years on this subject.

Very good reading and thank you for posting this Rev.

63. liketherain - May 22, 2011

thank you for writing an intelligent argument on this subject. i’ve been struggling to find a definite answer to question of whether or not cussing is acceptable for christians. you brought up many, if not all, of the issues that have been rattling around in my mind. reading this has brought me closer to reaching a conviction.

64. Crystal - May 26, 2011

I know this post is quite old now, but I’d like to say thank you for this article.:D
I’m 16 and never ever EVER cuss usually for my whole life just about. Even though my parents and guardians are quite pleased with my feelings towards cussing, I still get an awkward feeling when asked by some friends or aquaintances, “Why don’t you cuss?” sometimes. They would even proceed to tease me about it…:( Sometimes, I would even find myself asking this question, but always my answer is simply because I just don’t like to. And never really did. My brother is the same way, he’d always apologize to Mom whenever he’d cuss.XD

In short, all I’m saying is is thank you for helping me feel proud of my decision to not cuss and for being a Christian.:)

65. josiah - May 30, 2011

decided to do some gravedigging (i’m referring to the post of course :D). Reply # 36 was posted a few years ago, but i believe it was not given an apt response or any form of rebuttal. a particular part of the post caught my attention. “Not saying i totally support cussing but I am also not saying we have a justifiable defense against it via the “Cultural Norms” argument.
In some countries there are cultural norms of forced abortion,tyrannical dictatorship,fascism,etc.etc….if therefore we must not “offend” someone… we suspend morality…This is why I believe there must be a better reason why cussing is bad.”

the cultural norms argument, in this context, states that taboo words exist for every culture that are considered immoral and unacceptable by that culture under any circumstance, and as Christians we should adhere to these traditions in order to act our part as morally upright citizens of that culture, representatives of God. his argument is faulty for two reasons: 1) his examples are cultural traditions that have been developed by respective cultures through long periods of time, usually out of considerations for survival (Eskimos’ forced abortion) and ideological and religio-philosophical beliefs (tyrannical dictatorship and fascism). i point this out because he is comparing two different cultural aspects and relating them as being under the same classification, when in fact they are very different. while these norms (his examples) are established out of need, basically, taboo words are not established out of any given cultural necessity or ideology. to prove this, his examples show inter-cultural differences between specific cultures that have undergone different histories. the concept of cuss words, however, can be found in absolutely every culture, and subsequently, every language. Moreover, many of the cultures who once adopted these norms (his examples) have reformed, or are reforming, their norms to fit the views of globalized society. but the concept, the norm, of cuss/taboo words remains unchanged. 2) the argument he posted about conformity in order to ‘not offend’ and therefore suspend morality is totally against the Bible’s principle about witnessing. In 1 Peter 2:8, Jesus was called a rock of offense. he even offended the Pharisees and Sadducees repeatedly in his time. if God’s message is so pliable that it can be made to fit to whatever culture and tradition, then early Christians would not have been fed to the lions. the key here is not to take the concept of offense to an extreme that the word of God is watered down. Christianity MUST offend falsehood in order to show truth. but it does not mean that this should be conducted in an offensive manner. this is where the poster, i think, gets confused. he assumes that the offense of the Message and the offense of the messenger are one and the same, which are basically not. Our conduct SHOULD NOT cause people to stumble (this includes cussing), but our message WILL definitely cause offense. this is why Jesus said that he does not bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10:34), and then says “Peace I leave with you” somewhere else (John 14:27). We are the light of the world; if we do not distinguish ourselves from darkness, we are not fulfilling our calling.

66. Dave Cockson - June 23, 2011

John 8:7
Surely the language people use to express themselves does not condemn a person. It is clear that a societies values are Christian values, when it is a western society based on judo-christian values for its laws. When these change with time it is because of language use not because of the people in society are no longer Christians.

However I don`t believe it makes you a bad christian or not a christian if you do not follow the words in a book not written by God nor Jesus but written about the experiences of those who knew him, and even then later was organised and censored by a committee chaired by an emperor.

I am certainly disappointed in the “christian” attitudes of some of the people posting. John 8:7.

However I apologize if my comments detract from the spirit of the OP, it was enjoyable to read a clear well structured argument for this position which whilst I personally don`t agree with I can certainly respect.

67. D - August 17, 2011

I totally agree-have been arguing with people about this for a while…..I thought I was marrying into a really good Christian family only to find out how much all of them use foul language and have even been sworn at horribly by my husband….I sometimes am horrified by the actions of them and I can’t handle hearing it. He has also treated both my daughter and I pretty badly and he has even said he knows he does it sometimes-but God forgives him and so should I! I can forgive I told him, but also added, God does not want you to just keep doing things you know are wrong-he wants you to change them and not just keep it up because he will forgive you anyway! So frustrating! Tired of excuses and excuses. :C

68. just wanted to contribute - August 19, 2011

“I’ve yet to see anyone give scripture that convinces me that cursing brings glory to God.”

Nor can anyone give scripture to convince you that slang brings glory to God, but that doesn’t mean now all colloquialism is forbidden.

There are plenty of God-glorifying reasons to avoid a cuss word, but to ascribe sinfulness to the word itself–it’s pronunciation and spelling–is Phariseeism, in my opinion. As many have said, it’s about the heart, context, and culture. The functions of words change with every situation, time-period, culture, and subculture, so we must consider this fluidity when pondering this issue.

It is very analogous to the Jewish dietary restrictions during the early church. Paul recommended his brothers watch what they eat around Jews who may be offended, but also encouraged them to eat freely around Gentiles who wouldn’t. He writes,

“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23

In Paul’s missional context, those Jewish laws reflected the same cultural relativism and carried the same potential to either offend or connect people as cuss words today. So I think we should seek to be “all things to all people for the sake of the gospel” in the same way, avoiding certain speech styles to those who would be offended, and speaking freely around those who wouldn’t. This can go in many directions–just as an example, consider that speaking with very conservative “proper” english to people in the ghettos could be “offensive” in a way. It would not lend you any credibility as they associate you with the establishment that oppresses them.

Everyone comes at this issue with predetermined bias. All who are convinced that cuss words are explicitly forbidden by scripture are probably the ones who just plain don’t like them, and the converse is true for those who prefer to live on the edge. Confirmation bias is extremely difficult to resist, so we must be wary of cherry-picking scripture and logic to confirm our preferences, myself included.

69. joel amaro - January 11, 2012

Thank you so much for this. I always felt that all the scriptures really were jusy scratching at the surface, I even had intentions of uses curse words here and there and after reading this I ask my self why? There is no reason to use them at all. There is no sentence phrase or anything else that requires us to curse there are plenty of of worse we can use instead. Lord forgive me for even thinking about taking for granted and abusing the liberty you have given me. I am not free to live how I want im free from sin and from hell. Father help us all be lights in this world and I thank you for this brother in christ you have used as an instrument to bring me conviction. To you be the honor and the praise for ever in jesus name
Amen

70. Matthew - February 5, 2012

My response to Christians who believe cussing is ok is I ask them can they imagine God using profane words in His speech. I normally get silence and rarely ever a no. Unfortunately, once I had someone who boldy said that they can imagine God using all the profane words in America. I couldn’t believe it. I told him that we follow two completely different Gods. The simple truth is if we can’t imagine God using profane words then we have to ask why. The answer is because He is a holy God.

71. Stoney - February 19, 2012

^ @matthew i couldnt see god useing profane languege but i think it is ok if we do . . . look at the scriptures and they all say it is bad to cures and stuff but as the blog said what might be profane to somepeople might not be profane to others. we all have an idea of what is profane but that all depends on the life you live. and cusing doesnt make u a bad person it just means your have different veiws in what is wrong. And what supposedly is “profane” is just what socity tells us is profane.

72. Sandy Marthaler - February 23, 2012

I am struggling with eliminating an unsavory word in my vocab — great article — if I would not use it in an interview or in front of my pastor then why should I be using it —- I am working on it!

JP - February 23, 2012

I believe there are things in this world that are ‘personal sins’ but I wonder when we should make the determination that something is okay for us while not okay for others. Is cursing a sin? Probably not in technical terms (depending upon what the ‘curse’ word(s) are/is. However, the overriding qualification here is not one of sin but one of witness/testimony.

What is our testimony when we draw a line on technicalities but offend others? What is our testimony when we are behaving in a manner that is not Christ-like? It is my opinion that our witness is not only what we present to others, but what we present to God, combine that with the very real idea that we never know who is watching us and determining the veracity of our sanctification and we run into some real problems. Are we disciples of Christ, continuing to allow God’s progressive sanctification in our lives if we are picking and choosing what we say to whom and in front of this person and not that person? I personally find it difficult to begin determining when it is okay to curse and when it isn’t and choose to think that if I have to try to make those determinations then it is probably something that does not bring glory to God in any situation.

73. Cody Evans - September 18, 2012

I used to be a huge cusser. (That’s not even a word!) And now I do it very little, using the F word when I had a lack of better (not really “better”) words to express my thoughts that couldn’t be expressed using “acurses” or “dang it” etc. This has given me motivation to even quit that.

74. Josh - October 21, 2012

I don’t know if this has already been sated or not but here goes…

All “sin issues” aside let’s consider the fact that we want to honor the people God made, believer or not. When you are getting to know someone if you drop the F-bomb one of two things will take place: 1) they are offended by it. 2) They are completely unphased by it because it is normal to them. Because you don’t know this person, you don’t know how they will react. If they are offended you have dishonored someone God loves. If they are unphased than your F-bomb isn’t reallhy a big deal anyway and actually an overused word to them. In this case they arent really benfited. So it is either dishonoring in case one or not benefical in case to (plus everyone knows swearing in our culture is used as filler mostly).

Further more, if you argue that swearing will help you win someone to Christ than you are assuming that God cannot win “lost person X” without your swearing. God doesn’t need us to win peeps to Him, He will use us if we want Him to but the fact is He is bigger than that.

Typically, Christian swearing reinforces the notion that there is nothing different about us, even if its not technically a sin, you gotta admit it hangs out with drunkeness, adultery, and the like quite often.

Sin or not swearing can be very dishonoring to many people or even misleading to those who swear and do everything else the world does. Put yourself in their shoes: “Oh wow! you are Christian who swears? Great! I’ll Join! I’m in because you swear too, now let’s hit up the strip club! Wait, you don’t do that? Ok, well let’s go do some crack! Oh we cant do that either? Wait, what about gossip? I always swear and gossip at the same time!! You know what nevermind, all you do is swear, you don’t even accept any of the ‘cool’ sins! Im out, peace!” Sin or not, swear words don’t change hearts, encounters with the love of Jesus do!

Minus Bible verses, minus the issue of sin, what is the point?

Bottom line, It can hurt people by dishionoring them but I have yet to hear or see of how swearing helps people, probably because it doesn’t. Logically, it’s better not to.

75. Sean Steele - December 19, 2013

Great article, man. Thanks for sharing this with me and everyone else. This is a question that I have been asking myself lately. They’re just words, right? Apparently not. Cuss words cannot bring glory to Christ. This has been a struggle for me recently because almost all my friends at school cuss as if it is a basic life function. So, I am fully convinced cussing is a sin. BUT I also think many Christians make way to big a deal about it. Yes, it is bad. But I thoroughly believe cussing shouldn’t become the defining issue in your relationship with Christ, especially if your new to Christianity. The sins of the heart (pride, judgement, the need for revenge,) are all much more serious matters using bad language.

76. Ginny - May 5, 2014

I just found this comment section….WOW…I realize I’m from another generation, maybe even 2 generations ago, and it would never occur to me to say anything stronger than “golly gee whiz”…..actually, I tend to say “wow” a lot. I could say a lot about this, but just thinking that, if nothing else, it shows a lot of ‘tacky tacky’, the inability to control one’s temper/emotions/tongue and let fly with whatever happens to come out of the mouth, and lack of language and conversation skills to communicate. Or maybe it’s just because I heard so much of it growing up from my alcoholic father. And I haven’t even gotten to verses yet such as, “Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report….” –you know the rest.

77. Victoria - June 10, 2014

The world so casually uses God’s name in vain, which is commanded not to do. I believe that cursing is just vulgar and not a good example but using God’s name in vain is a sin.


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