In my daily walk with Christ, I’ve observed people swear constantly. I see this actively in movies, TV shows, video games, etc. Is it okay as a follower of Jesus Christ to use such derogatory language?
I recall back when I was in middle school with people who claimed to be Christians and used vulgar language. Many people that I know, even today, are still swearing and have been swearing since middle school, all the while claiming they are a follower of Christ. I knew it was wrong based on the biblical research I have done. I came to the conclusion that when you swear you aren’t glorifying God, at all. We as Christians are taught to be different from the world, and being different means not being of this world. Let us take a quick look at what the Bible says about swearing.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. “- Ephesians 4:29
“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” – Ephesians 5:4
Many people make an assumption and say that it’s alright to swear as long as you’re not insulting others by using the derogatory language. This lead’s back to my original question. Does swearing glorify God when you do so? We need to ponder what we say before we say it. If you are someone who uses this derogatory language then ask God for forgiveness, and make sure you don’t do it again.
Mike Pyatt Jr.
I’m going to answer this question by first saying no, but I’ll give you a quick reason why I try not to curse anymore…
It’s all about emotions. When I was younger, my adolescent years, boy, did I curse a lot. It usually happened when I had difficulty expressing my feelings, rather it was anger, sadness, frustration, and even happiness, ironically. Of course I didn’t curse around my family, except for when I had difficulties controlling my feelings. Notice, this time I said “control” my feelings when it came to family instead of “expressing” them.
At school, I wanted to curse, simply because there really wasn’t anything anybody could do about it. At home, I didn’t want to curse, but there were times when my anger and rage became so extreme that I let it out. Unfortunately, I haven’t completely been able to control that. My sister made me mad last year, and I cursed for the first time in years. It crushed me and I haven’t cursed since, but I still feel it.
So yes, I don’t think Christians should curse. I could use a lot of Bible verses to illustrate this, but let Proverbs 16:24 simmer in your heart:
“Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 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? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” – James 3:7-12
As Christ-followers, we are required to hold ourselves to the highest standard (being the example Jesus gave us with his life) and we are accountable for the words that fly out of our mouths. The things we say, no matter who is listening, are a direct reflection of what we have inside of us. It’s like burping with your spirit. It’s easy to cuss. Foul language is simple. Not using it takes discipline. Being ambassadors of Christ to the world, it’s our responsibility to do our best in outwardly representing Him at all times. This is a tall order, but reflecting Jesus with your words is our responsibility and being reponsible shows spiritual maturity.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” – Ephesians 4:29
Be intentional in your speech. Be deliberate with your phrases. Speak life to others with love and positivity and people will begin to experience Jesus through you and you’ll experience peace in becoming a stronger and more mature dwelling for Jesus.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12
I once knew a man who was very surly. He was a rough man with a difficult life and a hard background. He was invited to church and had began to come regularly. I was excited to see God work in his life. However, this man’s foul mouth was always an issue. He would hardly hesitate to tell a racy joke immediately after church, while still in the building, and as soon as he got outside he could cuss up a storm. He thought that God didn’t care how we spoke or what we talked about as long as we weren’t “too bad” otherwise.
Without much exception I believe that most Christians, and even many non-Christians, would find this man’s behavior a bit tactless to say the least, but do some of us agree with this man’s basic idea? I’ve met many other people who aren’t nearly as vulgar as the man I mentioned, who claim to be Christians, but still cuss occasionally. Some people might be better than others, but only by so many degrees, like a shade of grey is brighter than black.
“Our only line of defense is the sense that / I’m not as half as bad as this friend of mine so I must be fine / We mean well don’t we?” – Jimmy Needham
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:14)
There is good Biblical backing to say that Christians should watch how we speak. It can be proven in both concept and by direct statements throughout scripture.
Conceptually, we are to be a beacon of hope and a representation of Christ to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20). The very word “Christian” means “follower of Christ,” and as we follow Him we are to strive to be more like Him (1 Corinthians 11:1). It would be a crude misrepresentation of who Jesus is for Christians to speak perversely because Jesus did not do so. We are to be holy, clean of the world’s sin and vice, just as God is holy.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15 – 16
Those who may believe that the Bible is lax in its teachings on how we should speak are mistaken. There are many passages which let it be known that God is very concerned with many of the ways we conduct ourselves and how we speak is most definitely important. How we speak is one of the greatest indicators of where we are in our spiritual walk with God (Matthew 12:34), and there are many passages which specifically state that we are to keep our speech in check.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” – James 1:26
Similar Scriptures: James 3:3 – 12, Matthew 12:34 – 37
We must be careful how we represent ourselves lest we pollute our Christian testimony and present the world with a distorted image of who Christ is.
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
― Brennan Manning (also DcTalk)
Since everyone else tackled whether cussing is okay or not, I will tackle what cussing even is. First off, there is no way for the Bible to have a list of cuss words. These vary from culture to culture and change over time. While we are aware of most of the words in our own culture today, for me or anyone else to try to name them all would simply be foolish. So what is cussing then?
Jesus taught that what comes out of a man’s mouth is proof of what is in his heart (Luke 6:45). The go-to verse is Ephesians 4:29 as you have seen above from the other writers. While they all used different translations of the Bible, the meaning comes out the same. Demeaning an individual with a phrase or word can be considered cussing. Words are powerful and contain more of a punch than we realize. While telling someone they are an idiot (with expletives) seems like it is not the same as just calling them a fool, it is.
The meaning behind the word is what matters. Calling someone an imbecile seems clean enough. It is socially acceptable after all. The world is always on point about what is right and wrong after all… not.
“With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 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? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” – James 3:9-12
“For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;” – 1 Peter 3:10
My personal opinion of cussing is that you come across as someone who lacks intelligence. Simply put, no one wants to hear four letter words used as a method to describe something.