So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
– 1 Corinthians 10:31
Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
– Proverbs 4:24
The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.
– Proverbs 10:31-32
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
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
– Ephesians 5:4
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
– Colossians 4:6
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 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 3:5-12
Before reading the following post, refer to this post for broader Scripture on exercising freedom in Christ and how it plays out with weaker brothers or those with different convictions.
George Carlin, notorious for his ability to cut through soft, weak parts of the English language, once said while speaking on allegedly ‘bad words’: “There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those words [referring to a slew of racist slurs he just listed] in and of themselves. They’re only words. It’s the context that counts. It’s the user. It’s the intention behind the words that makes them good or bad. The words are completely neutral. The words are innocent. I get tired of people talking about bad words and bad language. Bullshit! It’s the context that makes them good or bad. The context. That makes them good or bad,” (Doin’ It Again (1990) (transcript)).
We’re allowed to say “dang,” or “sucks,” or “crap,” or even homeschool-sanitized “nuggets!” or “snickerdoodle!” yet the meaning behind each word is identical to the ‘cuss word’ that these words are replacing. Our culture has just arbitrarily attributed value of sin/badness to words like “shit, “ass,” and so on. Does this justify our use of either set? No. But it is a bit silly that such a dichotomy exists, between acceptable/unacceptable bad words or lesser/greater cuss words. Come, let us reason.
“According to a profile in Christianity Today entitled “The Positive Prophet,” the liberal evangelical Tony Campolo would often begin a speech by saying:
“I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
Although Campolo is overstating the point, he is right that evangelicals often take great offense to the use of such language and are surprised when it is used by Christians.”
– Joe Carter, What the @*&#…? A Christian Critique of Swearing
“My friend and fellow seminarian was witnessing on the street to some of the Goth crowd who were into Wicca. Their own language was vulgar, but they did not perceive it as vulgar. In presenting the gospel to them, in an attempt to communicate to them on a level that they could really understand, my friend pointed out the fact to them that since the Fall, the world has been “totally f**ked up.” Their response was a contemplative and agreeing “yeah.” In my judgment, this falls under the category of being all things to all people (1 Cor. 9:19-22).”
– Reformed Answers, Is Cussing Necessarily a Sin?
“When we examine any issue of morality, ethics, or Christian living we should not approach from the perspective of, “What can I get away with?” but of, “How Christ-like can I be?” So let’s approach from that perspective, not seeking license but seeking absolute purity and conformity to God’s perfect standards.
Insulting another human being, and blaspheming are wrong, no matter the words; the issue is not these sinful uses of profanity, but flippant/idle words that are subjective to the culture.”
– Tim Challies, A Theology of Profanity
“So, what’s my point? Do I want to create a Christian culture of cussing? Absolutely not; it’s actually pretty dumb when Christians flaunt cussing for the sake of sounding hip and edgy.”
– Joey Svendsen, Jesus Saved My Ass
“Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”
– Mark Twain
“Profanity is the attempt of a lazy and feeble mind to express itself forcefully; Profanity is the use of strong words by weak people; Profanity is a crutch for the conversationally handicapped. When a man uses profanity to support an argument, it indicates that either the man or the argument is weak—probably both.”
– Kurt Willems, Cussing Christians: Why I’m With Mark Driscoll On This One
– John Piper, At the Passion07 Breakout Session You Used Language That Seemed Inappropriate to Some. Will You Explain Why You Did That?
– C. Michael Patton and Wayne Grudem, Can Christians Curse?
– C. Michael Patton, Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain: What Does It Really Mean? (alternate link)
– John Piper, On Cussing
– John Piper, Can Christians Cuss to Prove a Point?
– Clint Archer, Bleep! Why Christians Shouldn’t Cuss
– GotQuestions, Is It a Sin to Cuss/Swear/Curse?