Question of the day: profane language.

I was pondering a certain question while I was reading through my twitter news feed last week. Which then prompted me to remind me that I host a “QOTD” series on Monday’s here on the blog.

“oh yeah…” I said to myself.

So here I am, sharing said question that I was pondering last week. all alone.

Be nice. Don’t fight. Notice, I didn’t say “Don’t argue.”

Argue your point if you must, but don’t fight. You can argue intelligently without pulling out the virtual boxing gloves… or steak knives.

Use Scripture to back your opinions. Please. and thank you.

Here’s this week’s QOTD…

Is it acceptable for Christians to use profane language… ever?
(“profane language” meaning cuss words, swearing, etc.)

Well, there it is… have at it!


Posted on October 1, 2012, in Question of the Day and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Excellent topic, Heather. It’s unquestionable that the bible says Christians are not to use profanity. The dispute can really be traced to the question of “what is profanity?” The F-word, for example, is a word which man made up and then later defined as profane. But if it is, then it’s sin to say that word. And if it is a sin, then this is the only sin that man gets to decide on.
    In other word, God defines the meaning of adultery, lying, murder, idolatry, and every other sin, but for some reason, we Christians think we get to define what’s sinful on this one topic. We humans make up words, and then called them sinful. If I could start a movement today to say that a new word I just made up (say “lingling”) is a sin, then it may take a few years, but at some point, I could possibly get the culture to treat “lingling” as a bad word, and only say it in certain situations, like when you hit your thumb with a hammer. Would it be sin to say “lingling” from that point on?
    Another way to view this: what about the word “bloody”? It’s a cussword in England, but not in the US. Does that mean it’s a sin to say it there, but not here? At what point over the Atlantic ocean does it become a sin to say “bloody”?

    I think this is one of those topics where we get to heaven and God informs us that we got it all wrong. In His words which cautioned us against using profane language, He wasn’t talking about specific words which we define, but about saying things which hurt people. Saying things which tear people down. Things which reflect dark places in our heart that need to be dealt with.

    In that sense, the words God doesn’t want us saying aren’t easily defined by a list of “seven dirty words”, but are those words those which are contrary to His principles. That are rooted in self-pity. Which cause unneeded conflict between believers. Words which are pride-based.

    That’s real profanity.

  2. The Bible says it is what comes from the heart that matters. Luke 6:45 states, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

    Paul said in 1Corinthians 14:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

    So the intent of the heart has much to do with the words we speak. Now, having said that, as a Christian we are to keep our testimony in the forefront of the mind. 1Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
    SO what we say that comes from the heart can and will definitely let others see whether or not our Christianity is real of fake. Because man has perverted the language and has perverted God’s wonderful gifts, the world looks at us to see whether we will follow the ways of the world or stay within the limits of God’s Word. Remember Peter used curse words to deny the Lord. It really hurt him, the Lord, and let those around him think he was NOT a follower of Christ. Why should we think that we are different? Our Lord, Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

    SO, yes, man has made up many words, but words such as “ass” and pisseth” are Biblical, yet man has made them into vulgarity. The best thing to consider is: If Jesus was living here at this very moment , would He use such “foul” language or would He be easy and kind? If there is a doubt, stay away from it. (JUST MY THOUGHTS).

    Good question my dear Sister-in-Christ. Thanks.

  3. Ron, I think you and I are pretty much on the same page. I offer the following, not to argue with you, but to extend the conversation.

    When we say we should avoid the temptation to, as you put it, “follow the ways of the world” I am reminded of when I was growing up in a denomination which said men were not allowed to have mustaches because facial hair was worldly. Of course, this is ridiculous, because facial hair is cultural; its acceptability among people is cultural and is subject to ebbs and flows. No rational person would think it’s sinful to have facial hair, but at one time it was not sinful. Just because the world does something doesn’t make that action worldly.

    So with that in mind, we have to ask ourselves: is the word in question (S-bomb, for example) a sin? Was it ever a sin? Is it OK for believers to impose rules that call something a sin if it isn’t specifically in the bible?

    • Good thoughts brother! Paul said that if it offends a brother, then he would not do it. I have to agree. So, as so many people like to say, God doesn’t look at the outside but”HE LOOKS AT THE HEART” So what is the thought behind a word spoken. If we consider it a curse word or if the unsaved consider it a curse word, or even if a brother or sister in Christ considers it offensive, should we not just find other ways to say the same thing? I think it would be a wise decision.

  4. Our speech is a reflection of our respect for our audience, be it a roomful of adults, a small child, a revered grandparent, or a close friend. Respect is displayed differently to each type of audience.

    Example: with my best friend, I can best be respectful by being absolutely honest, bowling words and all. With my kids, I respect them by controlling my speech, my tone of voice, and my temper, thereby guarding their hearts and minds as long as possible from each little ugly thing in the world I can, including my own mouth.

    In a religious setting,and often in a familial setting, there are words that generally offend lots of people. It is a kindness to refrain from using them. Instead of saying, “Pass the d@mn ham,” I might say, “Please pass the ham.”

    The issue is not the actual words. It is what those words do to others. If your speech is a lie because you say “stink” instead of “sh!t”, then it’s still a lie. If you use foul language to offend and to wound, then you’re being cruel and offensive.

    I guess if one just remembers “a soft answer turneth away wrath” and “As much as lieth in you, live at peace with all men,” you’ll be fine.

    • Continuing with what you were saying on the “it depends who’s presence you’re in” theme…

      what about when you’re at church? It around a group if Christians?

      What about when Jesus is around…?

  5. Heather, to answer your question of “what about when Christians are around?”:
    When Paul wrote Philippians, he was talking to Christians, and he used the equivalent of the S-word there.

    • I’m Curious what the reference for your above comment is….

      Next question — just because someone else did it, does that make it okay…?

      • No, but if it made it into the word of God….
        Philippians 3:8. The Greek word we see translated at “dung” toward the end of the verse, according to many scholars, was used as more or less the equivalent to our S-word.

        • Well, if we’re going to use that logic then…. rape and incest also made it into the Word of God. so did murder and adultery and homosexuality. Not to mention lying and robbery and self-mutilation.

          • I don’t agree with that conclusion. Paul used it as part of the word of God. He was saying something good. A modern equivalent might be “Jesus, we don’t want the BS, we just want You.”

  6. 1. I do not use profanity/vulgarity.

    2. If it is all about “the heart”, can you say the S-word and still have a pure heart? I say yes.

    • I normally don’t get involved in the QOTD posts – but i’ve been all over this one. LOL.

      if it is really “all about the heart,” then what about the following verses:

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

      “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14 (KJV)

      • Notice I said “IF” it is all about the heart.

        To answer this question, I could ramble on and on like some do, but I was trying to be succinct. I grew up strict IFBBKJVOB and cursing, profanity was viewed on par with adultery and murder. I remember several times my father ejecting a rented movie because they said “hell”.

        And I have spent time with some very godly men and women who have used “profanity” is some situations.

        To me, the biggest danger is not that it is “sinful” but that it is perceived to be, therefore, you can damage your witness with unbelievers….and be a stumblingblock to weaker believers.

        This is a good topic, but WOW you could take a book to answer it.

        Is it “sin”? not always.
        Is it wise? probably never. therefore, I opt to be in the never category.

  7. It seems to me that if we are not careful, we will come under the bondage of, “Since the Bible does not say I cannot use the word , then it is perfectly okay for me to do so.”

    Our Lord gave us Bible principles to guide us. He did not need to pen down every word that every person in every society in every moment of history would use as profanity. He told us that we are to let no corrupt communication (Ephesians 4:29) proceed out of our mouths. He also said that we are to use no filthy communication (Colossians 3:8). He even says for us to avoid filthiness (obscenity, not limited to words but certainly inclusive of them) and foolish talking (Ephesians 5:4)

    In this issue, we must remember that the world is not our standard. I believe the Lord is our standard. Even the world regards certain words as profanity, so those are no-brainers. However, I also believe the biblical standard goes beyond just what is not allowed to be aired on network television or what prompts an “R” rating. The Biblical standard is in line with the person and nature of Christ. This is why I believe it does us well to avoid crude language and innuendos.

    Through it all, I believe it comes down to making sure that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are acceptable in the sight of the Lord.

  8. Many good points have been made in the comments. I’m afraid I’m playing catch up and haven’t time for a full response. Sufficient to say that I believe that no offensive word of any kind should ever come from the mouth of a blood-bought, adopted child of God.

    Sure, discipline is necessary and truth is vital, but the English language covers every requirement without resorting to foul words which usually have NO bearing whatsoever on the subject being discussed or on the emotions of the participants.

  9. Imagine that I — a maize-and blue-blooded, loyal-to-the-end Michigan fan — were to go to a Michigan vs. Ohio State football game. As you might expect, I would be wearing maize and blue, from my hair accessories all the way down to my toenails and flip-flops, because I love my team and want to support them in every way. If I carried a poster, there would not be a drop of scarlet or grey ink on it, and the only giant letter on the sign would be an M. I would proudly sing “Hail to the Victors,” and I would cheer for a touchdown only if it was scored by the Wolverines. You would expect nothing less from a true fan, right?

    Now imagine a different scenario. Instead of maize and blue, I wear red nail polish and grey flip-flops, my favorite Christmas sweatshirt (which happens to be red), and a dark grey skirt. When my fellow Michigan fans question my attire, my response is, “What’s the big deal? I am wearing the grey flip-flops because they are comfortable. The red nail polish? Well, isn’t that a typical nail polish color? I am only wearing the sweatshirt because I am in the Christmas spirit, and the grey skirt because it matches the sweatshirt.”

    I then display a grey poster with giant red letters: “OSU.” “What?” I exclaim to my friends. “O, S, and U are just 3 random letters in the alphabet. How can there be anything wrong with them? They don’t mean anything unless you interpret them to mean something. Don’t worry, I am still a Michigan fan at heart. Isn’t that the most important thing?”

    When Michigan scores a touchdown, I don’t cheer. It’s not that I am not happy; it’s just that I am tired and don’t really feel like standing at the moment. Later, when the Buckeyes score a touchdown, I stand up and cheer. When my friends ask me why I did that, I insist that I wasn’t cheering for the Buckeyes. At least not in my heart. I was actually cheering for the guy selling hot dogs because I really liked the hot dog I just bought.

    So was there anything wrong with my wearing red nail polish, writing 3 letters on a poster, or cheering for a hot dog vendor? YES!

    Even if my heart was in the right place? YES!

    Why? Because if I am a true Michigan fan, I would rather DIE than act like a Buckeye in any way — whether in my heart or in my words and actions. My maize and blue heart would detest any outward behavior implying that I am anything but a Wolverine, and my passion for Michigan will naturally come out in my words, dress, and actions.

    Naturally, the heart of the speaker is the most important thing; however, that truth does not negate the importance of the speaker’s choice of words. Having a pure heart does not justify using vulgar language, because a truly pure heart should not be looking to justify vulgar language.

    Matthew 12:34 says that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The heart is the source of our words, and as such, it cannot be separated from them.

    That is not to say that a truly godly person could not ever slip and say a wrong word. I suppose it would be possible for me to leave the house in a hurry without noticing that I was still wearing red nail polish to the Michigan game. However, that would be only a tiny part of my wardrobe, and I would not be proud of it. In fact, I would probably do everything in my power to remove it once I noticed that I had it on. In the same way, I suppose a person who truly loves God might slip a bad word out once in a while, but I do not believe it should be a major part of his vocabulary. He would likely be bothered when it did happen and would do everything in his power to stop it.

    As for the question of what makes some words “bad” and other words not, consider this:

    Are grey and red terrible colors? Are the letters O,S, and U horrible things? As independent items, I suppose not; but when these things are combined in a way that represents the opponent, YES! Why? Because those colors and letters DO mean something to everyone who is at that game, and everybody knows what they mean. It doesn’t matter WHY they mean what they do. One could argue that they represent the Buckeyes only because someone arbitrarily chose the name of the university and the mascot — and that may be true — but it doesn’t matter! They mean what they mean, regardless of the reason, and a true Michigan fan would avoid them like the plague.

    So is there anything inherently wrong with 4 random letters being pronounced as a unit we call a cuss word? It’s just a collection of non-sinful letters, right? Words only mean what we as English speakers have decided they mean, right? In some cases, that may be so; but does it really matter WHY they mean what they mean? The fact remains that words do mean things; everyone knows what they mean; and everyone also knows the implications and innuendos they carry with them. I believe that if a particular word carries an offensive meaning, implication, or innuendo – regardless of the reason — then we ought to avoid it like the plague.

  1. Pingback: Day Sixteen: Oh Fricative | Verasimilitude: A NaNoWriMo Novel in Progress

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