ANONYMOUS WRITES: I’ve always thought that all cursing is a sin, but recently I’ve heard Christians make allowances for some swear words. What should we make of this? What does Scripture teach?
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The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.” Everything we say should be to uplift and point others to Christ. The more we conform to the world’s standards, the less we’re going to stand out for Christ. Also, using curse words in front of other Christians could cause a stumbling block to them. I don’t know if I would go so far to say that using curse words are a sin, but I would be very very careful if you choose to use them.
Well, a word is really just a specific sound that carries a cultural meaning, right? So while making that particular noise isn’t bad, the meaning behind it and the interpretation of the hearer are. I don’t think the words themselves are sinful at all.
But, I also can’t think of a situation where you can say them and not mean something. That something is probably mean or careless, and then it shouldn’t be coming from a Christ-follower. It wouldn’t fit with our job to love God and love people. Now you could mean the same thing, use nice words, and sin just as much.
On the interpretation end of things, the whoever hears you is going to think things, and that’s probably a bad witness to Christ. As a Christian you drag Jesus into everything you do, so if they think less of you they’ll think less of Him. It’s just not worth it.
So basically, no, swear words aren’t inherently sin. But they don’t work for a Christian either, because they make Jesus look bad. Hope this helps!
I will let God’s word speak for itself =)
Ephesians 4:29 NLT
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Ephesians 4:29 ESV (yes the same verse, but it’s super different in the ESV and it’s interesting to see the two different translations)
“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.”
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Colossians 4:6 ESV
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
When you’re about to make a post, but Josh already posted it…. 😆
Hmm, I haven’t really thought about these verses being applied to cussing… the context seems more like paul’s talking to whole churches saying “Hey, don’t be jerks to each other”. What do you think?
I think it does apply now that I am looking at it under this context. Look at “…slander, obscene talk” in Colossians 3:8 and “Don`t use foul or abusive language…” in Ephesians 4:29, for instance. Now that I’m thinking about it, it is talking about swearing.
Yeah I think swearing definitely fits that description, but do you think that’s all it’s talking about?
Hmm. You have a really good point. No, I don’t, now that I’m considering it. Anything negative that is not constructive criticism would be under this verse. Oh wow, that opens a whole new perspective…
Thanks for getting me thinking!
Thank YOU for helping me think through this! It’s one of those things I wasn’t really sure about, you know? But I think we’ve got it now. Now I just have to do it. (Ouch)
Easier said than done, right?
I most definitely believe it applies to cussing. =)
Yeah, the more I think about it I guess your right. Don’t you think it goes beyond that too though? Like we can’t be self righteous when we don’t say certain words, if the words we do use are still hurting people, right?
I was gonna say the same thing!! Why do you always have to think the same thought as me before me?!?!?
Lol I’m a mind reader XD jk
This is something I’ve been wrestling with fully understanding lately.
I think it comes down to motives a lot of the time; if we find ourselves wanting to swear, then why? Is is because we want to fit in with the culture? If so, that’s not a good reason — we’re not called to fit in with the culture.
Are we building others up by using these specific words? Is it edifying to the Christians around us? Sometimes, I find I lose respect for a Christian who uses swearing to try to make a point. C’mon, guys, there’s this thing called a thesaurus and I’m sure you can find a better way to phrase your statement without offending.
Whether or not swearing is a sin isn’t always the issue. It’s our heart behind the combination of letters and sounds. I’d even go farther to say that often, we’re sinning just as much as when we gossip or slander or cut people down with our words. As Christians, why would we find it helpful to do any of that? Why use our words as weapons?
Additionally, we have freedom in Christ. That’s not to say we’re free to swear, but hypothetically, if we were to mean that, is it really helping with our growth in Christ? Is it really encouraging to other Christians? Is it really a good witness to non-believers? Probably not. So even if swearing isn’t inherently sinful, it’s not necessarily helpful or respectful, either.
I totally agree! I don’t think swearing is necessary at all, even if it isn’t a sin. One of my favorite quotes on this topic comes from Stonewall Jackosn, who said: “When a man starts using profanity, it proves that his vocabulary is becoming sparse.”
I LOVE that. That’s so good!
If I’m not mistaken, I believe I found it on therebelution. 🙂
Wow you really have a good point. Thanks for sharing!
I worked in fast food for 3 years and was surrounded by a lot of people who I never would have known they were a Christian by their actions but later when they found out I was a Christian they would tell me they were too. I started really looking for other genuine Christians who would act out their faith in their every day lives but usually when someone would start using foul language I would think to myself “ok this person is just like everyone else..” I wondered how many others were maybe looking for a genuine Christian too, even among those that were not believers. I know there are a lot of people that misrepresent Christianity in the world and that encouraged me to look for ways to be set apart. I do believe that the when Ephesians says to put away “foul” or “corrupt” language it is referring to the words that our culture sees as foul or corrupt. In my personal experience this is important because I believe as a Christian its so important to look for ways to show that our lives are different because of our relationship with Jesus. Others are watching to see if were genuine or not and I don’t want anger or a joke or anything else to cause someone to look at me and say “See? she says shes a Christian but she is just like everyone else”
Our purpose in life is to share the gospel and spread Gods glory. It’s why my heart is still beating. To do this, we have to be different. Not the diffrent for sake of being different type, but the genuine heart change kind. Our culture views swearing and the use of curse words/obscene language as something Christians should not use. Now, I’m not saying we have to stick to the worlds ideals for Christians, but we ought to do our utmost to keep the reputation of our savior and His people from any hint of tarnish. I believe that that means abstaining from cursing.
I too have wondered what makes a word bad. It’s just letters. But as was said earlier, it’s the meaning, history and context.
That’s my two cents 😄
There are already lots of great answers here, and I won’t try to top or replicate them. But–how do you define swear word? If it involves God’s name, that is absolutely a sin. If it doesn’t, well, I suppose that is up for debate. 🙂 I like what others said about the history and meaning of words, and how we as Christians should try to represent Christ by keeping our speech clean.
I don`t know if it would be a sin or not (other than using God`s name, of course) but I personally feel uncomfortable swearing in general. If you think about it, the words gosh and gee (or jee, jeez, or jees) were invented in place of God and Jesus, along with some other “okay” swear words. So, while it isn’t technically using God`s name in vain, I always felt it was like seeing how close you could get to the cliff without falling off. I`m sure other people have other opinions, and like I said, I don`t know if it is really a sin, but that’s my opinion.
I agree, but what about sheesh?
I don’t personally know if sheesh stands for anything in particular. That being said, it probably does and its better to be safe than sorry.
Thx(thanks), I needed to know. Luckily I didn’t get into a habit of saying it.
” Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. ”
You can’t argue with Scripture. In addition to that, I’m inclined to think that if you have to swear to get your point across, you need a larger vocabulary. Because yelling, “You infernal doorpost! May you die a thousand deaths under the blade of my mighty chainsaw for what pain you have wrought to my toe!” is really not only proves that you have a vocabulary, it’s highly entertaining to whoever is listening to you.
But seriously, we are not supposed to swear because it’s not language that reflects that we have been changed by the world and are living with joyful hearts and a godly spirit. This hardly means that if you curse you aren’t a Christian- I know many Christians who cuss. But I do not think it is language fitting to someone changed and redeemed by Christ. If you want to argue with Scripture, see Josh’s(Guitar with Arms) post. And George Washington agrees with me too… 😀
“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”
Love your answer, Regan!
Oooh Imma steal your verse too and edit it into my comment (I’ll give you credit tho lol) =D
Wow words of wisdom! Thats great regan.
but words change over time. like in the Bible i don’t think a s s refered to a girls butt ( secular music referance) or anyones b u t t o c k s for that matter.
But replacing a swear word isn’t helping wither. The word still has that connotation or meaning. For example, if I said I will kick person X in the astronaut, you understand what I am saying, although I never said the word. And saying something like “Oh shoot” is just a substitute for another word. So where do you draw the line?
When we swear, are we reflecting God in a way that unbelievers can tell we’re different? Or are we just letting the world conform us to be more like it?
when we swear, we aren’t being the good example Jesus wants us to be. In order to be a shining example(or being a city on a hill) we must be self-control & loving, that’s the best advice I have.
Nope, there it’s probably referring to a donkey. You are right- a lot of words change over time. I have several words I love from older culture(like the word gay. Used to be an awesome word that meant happy, bright, cheery, etc. Not so much anymore.) You just need to look at how the word is used and what it means now, and then use or avoid it accordingly. What is considered profanity now? What do you cringe when you hear? What words are frowned upon by your elders and your mother? What words make you feel uncomfortable saying? What words are just downright inappropriate? Are they building up the world? That’ll help you work through some of that.
In Leviticus 24:10-23 it talks about a Israelite that “blasphemed the Name with a curse” (verse 11). I think the curse that it talks about is kind of like what we know as swearing. So yes, swearing is a sin.
I think swearing is only a sin if an authority tells you not to swear and you disobey them or if you use it to harm other people. If its not used to harm anything, i think its just fine. Swearing at a demon or devil isn’t a sin. 😉
saying Gods name in vain is a sin though, Its like a swear towards God.
I was wondering if it was a sin to swear but not directly to anyone like your favorite sports game got rained out, or you see another political side win or losing a game, ect.