The foul language frenzy

With the approach of Christ’s return getting closer and closer, it has been my observation that foul language is on the increase in epidemic proportions.  There used to be a time when cursing and dirty jokes would only occur behind closed doors among adults.  If you heard it in public, it only happened in seedy places like bars or on ghetto streets.  Now it’s everywhere–the supermarket, video store, and at “Christian” gatherings.  Everyone from young children up are participating.  Children curse their parents in public and parents curse their children in public.

I expect that type of behavior from the unsaved, but to hear it from those who claim to be Christians is appalling.

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature and it is set on fire of hell.

For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:6-10)

Some may say that it’s just a reflection of what people listen to and watch.  I would argue that a Christian individual does not have to do what they hear and see if it’s ungodly.  I understand we all wrestle with our flesh to keep it under subjection, but some so-called Christians don’t seem to be trying to keep themselves in check regarding this sin.  I’ve encountered plenty of Christians who lift their hands in praise, teach Bible lessons, and pray at church gatherings then turn around and tell their dirty jokes or curse like sailors when you spend time with them away from church.  What’s up with that?  They must know they’re wrong since they know better than to use that language in the midst of the whole congregation.

I heard a pastor preach once that in certain circumstances it was fine to cuss someone out such as when you are trying to make a valid argument with a difficult person who won’t listen.  Huh?  Where is that in the Bible?  He then went on to say that is why Peter cussed on the night of the trial of Jesus.  Needless to say, I left that church not too long afterwards.

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.

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 (suitable): but rather giving of thanks.” (Eph. 5:1-4, emphasis mine)

Foolish talking would be any type of talk that does not encourage what pleases God, such as cursing or boasting about one’s sins.  Jesting would be dirty jokes, double entendre, or joking about sin to make it seem fun or innocent (see Proverbs 14:9).

Here are more verses to think about on this subject:

“Put away from thee a froward [deviant, deceitful] mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” Proverbs 4:24

“Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” Proverbs 19:1

“Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.” Proverbs 20:20

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.  For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.”  Isaiah 59:2-3

–Harry A. Gaylord–

23 thoughts on “The foul language frenzy

Add yours

  1. Hello, Harry. I wanted to chime in with a different perspective, just for the sake of dialogue. I’m not trying to slam your view, just present my own.

    First off, I completely disagree with the pastor who said it was okay to cuss someone out if it was difficult to talk with them. Assuming that was his final word on the subject, I totally disagree.

    It should be noted that “cursing” language, however, is very cultural. Our culture decides what is and is not an offensive word because that’s the very nature of language. For instance, the “f” word is not seen as being nearly as offensive in Britain and other parts of Europe as it is in the U.S. Words are just words untiil they’re given definition, context, etc. Most “curse words” have a real meaning apart from simply being “curse words” (granted, the real meanings for most are perceived as crude by many).

    So here’s my point: I don’t believe as Christians we should ever use those “curse words” in anger or even around people who we don’t know well enough to understand what offends them. However, I see no harm in two Christians who know each other well using those words around one another in jest or even casually as long as each is confident he isn’t offending the other.

    Again, “cursing” is all about context. When words are meant to offend or harm they are “curse words.” However, when mutually accepting people use them with one another in a non-offensive way, they’re just “words”.

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  2. Josh,

    I can see the point you’re making. However, the words we use can have eternal consequences. Jesus said,

    “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)

    I know it’s popular nowadays to determine whether or not something is sin based on subjective or human standards like one’s culture, but Christians are called to judge what is sin based on God’s standards which are established in his word. What is considered sin to mankind today may be considered okay ten years from now, but God never changes his righteous standards to be accepted by men. His ways are higher than ours and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

    Are our words offensive to God? That is the question we should ask ourselves. Whether we eat, or drink, or whatever we do, it should all be to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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  3. Harry,

    I don’t believe you’re talking about the same thing that I am. Sin is not subject to culture; language is. I’m not saying that we should base our idea of sin on culture. Just because sexual immorality is widely accepted by our culture doesn’t mean we should be sexually immoral. Just because stealing music from the internet is widely accepted in our culture doesn’t mean we should steal. And just because cursing is widely accepted in our culture doesn’t mean we should curse others. We agree on that.

    But I’m questioning the very premise of your article: what is a curse word? It’s different things to different people depending on where you live and how you were raised. To disagree with me on this point, you would have to believe that from the dawn of creation God ordained that there would be 7 words in the English language that would be sinful. I don’t think the Bible narrates that as an actual event that occurred. : )

    Since humans determine what language is offensive, what people find to be offensive may actually change overtime. “Bloody” is considered a curse word in Europe, but it’s obviously not one in the USA. Failure to recognize this is a failure to understand which biblical truths are cultural and which are supracultural. Cursing will always be wrong and offensive; the words that others understand to be cursing will change with language and culture.

    Now, about Christians using what you would consider curse words: obviously these offend you and so I don’t believe any Christian should be saying them around you, Harry. But you need to let them know that because they may just not know. I avoid anything offensive when I’m not around super close friends and family who I know well enough to know how they’ll take things. Though I have the freedom in Christ to use a wide array of words, I choose not to in order that my brother not be offended.

    As far as your scripture reference (Matthew 12:35-37), I think you should take a closer look at it. Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and is clearly not speaking of curse words in this passage. They have just spoken harshly about Christ, and he is rebuking them because they are the teachers of the law and should know better. He warns them not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and in THAT context warns that they will be judged for our careless words; much like the words against Christ that they have just spoken. It’s important in Christian dialogue to understand the entire context of the Scripture you are quoting and not just proof-text passages to try and make a point. I’m not trying to be overly critical, man; that’s just some advice.

    Last thing: be careful about what you think of others who disagree with you. You obviously think that you should avoid certain words because they are bad in and of themselves, but not everyone agrees with that sentiment. Try not to judge them to harshly for that; they’re probably doing their best to grapple with the Christian life just like you are.

    Thanks for the discussion, man. It was good talking to you. I’ll let you have the last word.

    “In essentials-unity, In peripherals-freedom, In all things-love.”

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  4. Josh,

    I hope in this conversation we’re not splitting hairs, but language is made up of words and using words in a way that goes against God’s principles is sin, no matter what the language.

    What is a curse word? In order to find out from God’s perspective, it’s good to do a scripture search of words like profane, curse, and vain in the context of words like mouth, speech, say, or talk. For instance, 2 Timothy 2:16 says, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” If you look at the whole of scripture, foul language (i.e. profanity, cursing, obscenity, foolish talk, vulgarity, and even blasphemy) is the use of insulting words that dishonor something or someone that God says should be honored, or revered. Calling someone a fool without justification puts the speaker in danger of hell (see Matt. 5:22), and is therefore a curse word in that particular instance.

    In your comment above, you implied I used the Matthew 12 scripture out of context, but Jesus is addressing blasphemy and blasphemy is a form of cursing (look up the word “curse” in any Webster’s Collegiate), so the scripture does indeed apply here. Additionally, there are many times where Jesus spoke to establish some general principles that can be applied to other situations besides the context he was in.

    Jesting among friends even if friends are agreeable to it can displease God. Let’s say I’m joking around with a friend and he makes fun of a habit of mine. He’s telling the truth about me in a joking way and we both laugh about it but I jokingly answer back “Go to hell.” God is not laughing about it because hell is very serious and should not be joked about. Telling someone to go there is cursing because in God’s eyes you’re wishing them the worst thing anyone could ever experience.

    The bottom line is that we should be careful of the type of language (words) we use because God is listening. Yes, we should be concerned with what other cultures consider cursing, but ultimately we should be more concerned with what God considers foul language. Islamists consider preaching the gospel as blasphemous, but God loves preaching so if I’m led to share the gospel with a Muslim, I’ll obey God, not the Muslim.

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  5. Hi,
    For years I have wondered about this subject, and “which words” I should or should not use. For example, I hear a lot of Christians say, “Oh my gosh” or “What the heck?” What about those words? They seem to be harmless, but are they? I also hear, “that was heck of funny!” It seems they use “heck” instead of “hell”. What do you think about that?

    Thanks for your post, I totally agree with you, and it is sooo hard to be pure in words when you are around people who use careless words, even like “idiot!” when someone cuts them off in traffic, etc. It seems to try to rub off on me and I find myself saying these words sometimes and then catching it, realizing I should be more careful in my speech. I also hear a lot of the word “crap” a LOT. That’s just another word for “S…” right? But then, as Josh says, it’s not an offensive word in our “culture”, so I just get so confused….

    Thanks for your insight,
    Jen

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  6. You’re right, Jen. It is hard to be pure in words because they’re so contagious. I’m working on being careful about catch-phrases myself. Calling someone an “idiot” or “stupid” would be a curse and I’ve been guilty of it when people drive crazy. I guess I need to work on my patience and focus my thoughts more on things that please God.

    “Heck” is a euphemism (an inoffensive substitute) for “hell” and in that case maybe using it would be at an individual’s discretion. Could it be that words like this are covered by Romans 14:21 or 1 Corinthians 8:13? I don’t know. But one can easily slip and use “hell” when intending to say “heck” since they are so similar.

    The word “crap” is a synonym for the s— word and is not considered a euphemism from what I’ve seen in the dictionary. It’s still a vulgar word so maybe we should steer clear of it.

    When it comes to what we say, think, and do I think God has given us enough principles to go by to check ourselves. We’ll always have struggles with our flesh until we receive our resurrected bodies and because of our nature, what is sin may not always be 100% clear to us 100% of the time. That’s why God’s word, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and genuine Christians who love us enough to keep us accountable are good things.

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  7. harry,

    I tend to agree with the discussions here. Cursing someone is wrong. That curse could be done with all “non-curse” words but with a heart attitude of wishing evil on that individual. However there’s no difference in saying “Darn” or “D&@n” since in your heart you mean the same thing, and it’s not cursing since you’re not wishing evil on someone.

    So next time you kick the table leg in the dark, say whatever you wish. However don’t use that same word to say “blank you” because then you are really cursing someone.

    Hope that makes sense.

    aA

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  8. Well, I agree Cursing is not good. But when does a person curse ? when someone has cheated or done something wrong against someone right ? If you are hurt , you will certainly say bad things which will hit as a curse. Unless it is jusified curse cannot hit upon anyone. It’s an action of anger. It’s like a man wish and God fufill’s it .

    Hence never do wrong or take anyones right. Soul never dies its immortal. Hence, never hurt someone’s feeling intentionally or for any selfish motives. Be happy with what God has given to you and share the goodness with others and indeed get blessings which give you a joyous life.

    Remain Blessed.

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  9. I am so very happy and thankful to God for these words. I have searched and searched to find information in the bible concerning cursing. so oftern i believe as christians we try to make things ok because they are ok to the world. What we must realize is that we are not a part of the world (secular i mean). God has called us a part and that means that we should live according to his laws and statues. There are many things that are acceptable in todays society that will never be acceptable to God. And it is never ok to try and make them. I totaly agree with what has been said. And i comend everyone that is willing to walk the straight and narrow path of true Chrisitanity. God loves you and I love you too.

    Also if you are having a hard time with the whole idea of cursing, i mean like believing that it is wrong, i suggest you spend some real one on one time with God. Take some time to talk with him about it and see what he says to you.

    I pray that these words will land of good soil!

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  10. i know a “christian” who is a dancer in a church etc. she also

    1) tells dirty jokes whenever she can about sex

    2)uses f*** word

    3)goes to nightclubs and lap dancing clubs etc

    4)has no self control in anything. appears drunk at times.

    5)is extremely materialistic, she fasts for things?

    6)she thinks nothing is wrong with the above.

    can this person really be a christian?

    confused.

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  11. Jesus said you can tell a tree by its fruit. A good tree cannot bear evil fruit and an evil tree cannot bear good fruit. If she claims to be a Christian and participates in this un-Christian behavior, someone who is a loving and merciful Christian that knows her should confront her. If she refuses to listen and never apologizes, chances are she’s not really a Christian. If she eventually does change and apologizes, then she is genuine.

    There are many people who think that because they go to a certain church or were raised in a Christian home or were baptized or said a “sinner’s prayer”, then that means they’re saved. Wrong!

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  12. I found your opening paragraph quite interesting. Would you please explain the comment, ” If you heard it in public it only happened in
    seedy places like bars or on ghetto streets.” I would really like to understand why you would make such a general statement about people based upon where they live.

    I am 54 years old and although I’ve never lived in the “ghetto”, I have worked in many areas that by many peoples definition would be defined as “ghetto.” Based upon 34 years of exposure to “ghetto” life I do not find your statement to be true. Yes profanity is far too prevalent in our society today. However, 34 years ago it was no more prevalent on the “ghetto” streets that I was exposed to than on “Main Street”.

    I came to your website seeking a biblical explaination on cursing. I was prompted to do so after while alone in my home, I became angry about the way that someone had been treated. I began to think about what I would say to the offensive individual and I spoke a few curse words. It just didn’t feel right (although no one was in the house to hear what I had said) I felt and still feel like what I said was displeasing to God.

    That being said, I also find your statement about the “ghetto” to be equally displeasing. My disagreement with your opening statement did not however, prevent me from reading your postings on cursing and although I don’t agree with eveything you expressed, I did find you comments helpful in my search for knowledge and understanding.

    I

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  13. I referred to the “ghetto” because that has been my personal experience living on the South Side of Chicago or walking through neighborhoods where people live in poverty, with liquor stores on almost every corner, with drugs being sold out in the open on street corners, and the property is not in the best shape. I have also been in upscale neighborhoods and my experiences have been that a couple of decades ago they only cursed in private, not out on the street. That has only changed since the mid to late 80’s, based on my experiences.

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  14. Psalm 12:8
    The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.

    If our language is causing evil to flourish by making vile behavior acceptable, whose side are
    we on?

    As far as the changes in society go, I’ve noticed a
    great deal of decay within even the last 10 years.
    I regularly hear crude language and off-color jokes in the most unexpected places, even in church. The youth are particularly confused, mainly due their parents lack of self control or
    acceptance of such behavior, you know the old
    “Choose your battles” cop-out, we should be
    fighting them all.

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  15. Amen, Jim.

    When it comes to us modern Christians, most of us are more worried about whether we’re cool or hip enough to relate to the people of the world and make compromises in the process and our language is one area where we ignore what the Bible says.

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  16. I know that it’s been a while since anyone posted a response, but I have a question/comment to ask & make. Just as we can use “curse words” (the secular ones, for lack of a better term, i.e. f word, s___), can’t we be equally wrong from receiving curse words from the pulpit? I ask this & make this comment, because at a former church that I used to attend, the pastor would always send curses to people who didn’t advance his personal agenda that he always wanted to put on God. It was usually based around a charlatan money making, flim flam type scheme & when it didn’t go his way, strokes were coming to our houses, heart attacks & the reference to Elijah & the she bears that attacked the boys mocking him. Now I know that in Romans, Paul tells us to bless & curse not, so why were we sent curses (in spite of the fact that no “curse words” were used)?

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  17. Attempts to put curses on people as your former pastor did is just as wrong as using foul language. In the Bible, when men of God spoke curses on people, as Elisha did with the children and as Paul did in Acts with Barjesus, it is only when they encountered people attempting to openly oppose what was truly of God and they only did so under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

    God is not obligated to bring to pass any curse that is not upholding his will. What your ex-pastor did was just a different form of cursing than vulgar people use. Any Christian can refute any curse, whether spoken by a pastor or a vulgar person or a witch, just by claiming who they are in Jesus Christ.

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  18. I tried to make sure that I covered my family in prayer when I heard them rant & rave in this fashion. As a matter of fact, I knew that they were going to attack my wife before we even went to church on one particular day. I anointed everyone in the house before we went. Sure enough, they had some false prophetess telling my wife that she had cobwebs in her mouth & I’m thinking “Show me cobwebs in the bible”. All I could think about was Ezekiel 13:6-9 & Jeremiah 14. It was a set up & God alerted me to that beforehand, so for that I honor & praise Him. I don’t know if I got off of the main topic with this present comment, but somebody might read it that’s going through it & be able to find their way out of it.

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  19. All you have to do is actually read the Bible and it is obvious that we shouldn’t curse. And it has been my very recent return to scripture, that has taught me all you need to do is to sincerely want to please our Holy Father in all things to easily keep from it!
    In the span of two months, I have cried out to the Lord, and he answered me immediately, he cured me of a 38 year drug habit in one day with absolutely no issues or problems doing it, I had no trouble stopping my very foul language as soon as I had the real desire to live for him. As a matter a fact, I now actually flinch at the constant barrage of filth coming out of the mouths of my own family, because I am alone in Christ (hoping constant prayer for them will change this).
    Just today I developed a nasty headache while bible studying, and prayed to be relieved of it, and about 20 minutes later I noticed it was completely gone! No motrin needed. All things are possible when you are with the one true God. Believe it! Praise him, Love him, Serve him, Ask of him, and he will answer.

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