You wouldn’t think this would be a topic worthy of a wordy article for an audience of Christian ladies. It would be like writing an article on why it’s wrong for a Christian to steal. But now the prevalence of swearing to “be cool” like the world has actually entered even the mainstream so-called church in more recent years and true believers need to be equipped to confront this issue, especially to those who say they follow the Bible. We need to always be ready to give answer (1 Peter 3:5) or rebuke when necessary (2 Timothy 4:2). And if you claim to be a Christian, you are called to leave sin behind.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19)
So is using swear words actually a sin, or does the Bible address the subject at all? Because after all, there isn’t a verse that says “Thou shalt not use swear words.” (Never mind the fact that not everything that is condemned by God in the Bible starts with Thou shalt not.)
Many (usually those who are middle-aged and upwards) think that swearing is crude, tasteless and shows a lack of intelligence and do not talk that way or scold their children for doing so. But I want to bring up the point today that our opinion about something isn’t what matters – what God think is what we should want to find out.
Let’s talk look into why swearing is a sin according to the Bible.
Using Curse Words is Pure Evil!
There is more than one kind of swearing in the Bible. Not all kinds of swearing is referring to using dirty words. Cursing, swearing or oaths in the Bible often refer to a vow. Whether or not we should vow goes outside of the scope of this article.
As Christians, we are given a very valuable, overarching set of guidelines for godliness in Philipians 4:8, which is always helpful for things that may not be addressed directly in the Bible (though, in fact, we have a lot of Scripture to look at in this study).
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philipians 4:8)
Things that come out of our mouth are first processed in our thoughts. So, it stands to reason that likewise our words are included in this passage. A good thought, when expressed, will not become an evil one. Things that are pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy are things God delights in and wants us to think on and speak. Don’t believe me? Read in Ephesians:
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)
With that in mind, let’s toss out a few synonyms for swearing:
- Bad Language
- Curse words
- Vulgar tongued
Do any of these descriptions match up with the good, edifying speech God says we Christians should be using? Of course not. Are these words linked to wickedness and things that are corrupt? Absolutely. Then it is of a bad report; it has a negative, evil connotation – not a good one. Swear words, by their very nature, are designed to put down, not build up (or edify) others. They are corrupt, which means wicked.
Speaking of profanity…
But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2 Timothy 2:16)
The very definition of swearing is using profanity. We are to shun profaneness in speech, meaning treat it like the plague. But notice the last part – they will increase unto more ungodliness. It will only cause you to get farther and farther away from God. It is opening a door to the devil in your life.
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (Colossians 3:8)
Dirty words come out of a heart full of anger and a spirit of wrath and malice, not out of grace. Hatred, not love, is the fire that fuels the swearing tongue. Love is to govern our lives as Christians. It is our badge. It is hypocrisy to say you’re a Christian and talk like the world.
Blasphemy and filthy communication pretty much sums up the cesspool of dirty, disgusting, crude, violent words our culture is saturated in and actually uses in everyday conversation. I can’t think of a four-lettered word (not that I want to) that doesn’t fall under those terms. We are living in perilous times (2 Timothy 3).
Are you getting how serious this is? Do you see why you need to come out from the world and stop listening to anyone using that garbage?
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2 Corinthians 6:17)
My Testimony Regarding Swearing
As a brief testimony, I must confess with great shame that I used those kinds of words once in my life. I blush to think of it. This is back before I was saved and going through the public school (indoctrination) system. I remember a middle school teacher of mine complaining that walking down the school hall was enough to make your ears bleed (just to give you an idea of what I was exposed to on a daily basis). There is something about a swear word that stings to the unaccustomed ears. She used that expression because there is a truth to that. Actually, I was always a bit hesitant to say them because deep down I knew it was wrong. The unsaved do have consciences that bear them witness, though they may be past feeling (Ephesians 4:9). But I did eventually get to that point.
And so I can say from personal experience that swearing is only a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem. It is a neon sign that something is very wrong in the heart of that person.
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. (Matthew 15:18)
With swearing, those who have been raised by parents (perhaps in a so-called “Christian” home) who would maybe wash their mouth out with soap if they heard such language don’t take it up lightly, even the unbelievers. It takes a long period of immersion to wear away at the conscience and training of parents. But with enough time and enough exposure you become numb to it. That is one of many reasons why I would NEVER EVER recommend:
- Sending your child to a public school
- Having a television in your home
- Watching movies
- Listening to talk radio in your home
- Listening to secular music
These things are bathed in profanity and wicked talk. If you can help it at all and by any means, avoid it at all costs.
Yes, I know there may be an unexpected, unusual moment when you or your children happen to hear a foul exclamation even if you don’t do any of those things. We can’t help everything, but what is in your control needs to be addressed. Don’t hand me the line of saying you can’t prevent everything so you may as well drench yourself in iniquity. That is foolishness. The point is to try very, very hard never to expose yourself to the world’s babbling talk. God will hold you responsible for what you can do, not what is not in your power to stop.
And it will taint you. You can only listen to that stuff for so long before you start doing the same thing, trust me. It is like an infectious disease. With a group of contaminated people coughing and sneezing on you over and over, it’s only a matter of time before your immune system succumbs and you, too, end up sick. You can’t always stop someone with the flu from sneezing their germs on you as you go through life but any normal, healthy person would do their best to prevent it.
A Closer Look at Blasphemy
In Leviticus 24 we read that God prescribed the death penalty for blasphemy to anyone, whether Jew or not. Blasphemy is being disrespectful to God. Both cursing and blasphemy are rooted in pride, a wicked sin. A blasphemer is one who sets themselves against God.
Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 37:23)
To blaspheme is to put yourself in Satan’s grip.
Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:20)
As Christians, we should stay far, far away from this treacherous sin. That means we need to be examining our hearts to make sure there is never even a hint of such a thing that should come from our mouths.
The following are some common forms of blasphemy that are widely used.
Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain
It is insulting to God to call on His holy name flippantly, but this is what you are doing when you are not even talking to Him and you casually remark, “Oh my God.” It is using His name in an empty, vain way. This is condemned specifically in the third commandment and repeatedly throughout Scripture.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
The Bible says it is the enemies of God that do this:
For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. (Psalm 139:20)
Flippant References to Hell
It is not wicked or wicked to say the word hell in and of itself, but it is wrong to tell someone to go there or use it flippantly, as we Christians know that hell is a real place and is a very serious matter. To burn and burn in fire and never get any deliverance is unimaginably horrific. Using the name of that place lightly or in a way that does not make sense makes light of that, and telling someone to go there is to spit on the death and suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died so people don’t have to go there! You probably thought it was wrong before but think of it now from that perspective. The same is true also of damnation, though most people use a shortened form of word while swearing.
Dirty Joking is a Vile Sin!
Profane words and course joking go hand-in-hand, and both are abominable to the Lord. Telling any story or joke that contains sexual innuendos are forbidden in the Word of God.
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:3,4)
Objection: “Well, one little word here or there isn’t the end of the world.”
This is a slippery-slope attitude. As I’ve said many times before in other articles, if you start accepting sin in small amounts – any amount – that is setting you on the downward spiral to accept more and more sin until you are sitting in Satan’s lap. How much is too much profanity? You are making up your own rules at that point. Where does God say a little sin is not that big of a deal in the Bible? A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Don’t be deceived.
Objection: “But everybody does it!”
It may be true that profanity is something the world generally accepts. But that excuse is something God is not going to accept. When God says something is evil, that does not change just because others are doing so and His word says:
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil… (Exodus 23:2)
We certainly are living in wicked times, but that is all the more reason to let our lights shine in the darkness.
Objection: “Jesus cussed out the fig tree in Matthew 21:19!”
No He didn’t.
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (Matthew 21:19)
Now can you show me where there are any four-lettered words in the text? Cursing the fig tree does not mean that the Lord Jesus Christ, the sinless, holy Son of the Most High God, let filthy communication proceed out of His mouth. Anyone who has actually read their Bibles with a serious mind would know that there is no profanity whatsoever in this passage.
Actually, I have heard people try to use this passage to tell others it’s okay to disobey God, but they are TWISTING SCRIPTURE to justify their sin. Only a perverted, devil-possessed mind would do such a rotten thing knowingly! It is downright BLASPHEMY and a wicked lie to accuse our Lord so falsely! I am very angered by those who would mislead the Biblically ignorant, telling them Jesus did such a vile thing.
Now, What About Not-Quite-Swear-Words?
It may come as a surprise, but many words common in everyday vocabulary are just swear words that have been modified to sound less vulgar and more harmless. This is something most people don’t realize when they say them, but because blasphemy and cursing is such a serious matter, we don’t want to be sugar-coating them in our daily conversation! The devil is having a good laugh at Christians who would be appalled at using profanity but then turn around and use expressions derived from those same words they despise! Others are a mockery of biblical concepts.
There is no such thing as a cleaned-up, “Christianized” curse word. You can’t clean up filth.
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. (Job 14:4)
You will be responsible for every little thing you say, no matter how seemingly insignificant:
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Mat. 12:36)
- Gosh and golly are taken from the name God
- Shuck and shoot are taken from the 4 lettered s-word
- Jeez is the shortened name of Jesus
- Gee whiz is short for Jesus’s whiskers
- Heck is slang for hell
- Jeepers Creepers is really taken from Jesus Christ
- Darn and dang are taken from the shortened form of damnation
- “Dad gum” or “dog gone” comes from playing with the letters G-D
- My word is referring to the Word of God, Jesus Himself (John 1:1)
- My goodness is a direct reference to the Lord (Psalm 144:2)
- Good heavens, heaven help us, heavens to Betsy are carelessly throwing around the title of the throne of God
- Good grief is mocking the fact that our Lord was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3)
- For Pete’s sake is referring to Peter, the disciple of Jesus
- For crying out loud is mocking the death of Jesus, who cried with a loud voice on the cross (Matthew 27:46)
If you are accustomed to using any of these idioms, it may seem like a shock to realize they are actually a watered-down version of profanity. Do you really want to use such language just for the sake of spicing up your vocabulary or making your language more colorful?
“But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Mat. 5:34-37)