I’ve noticed a disturbing trend that can be easily observed by simply plugging into to any form of social media. People have grown more accustomed to using and hearing foul language. Words that were taboo just a few years ago are now quite common place. And this trend has even begun to surface in some Christian circles. Heck, Mark Driscoll once made a name for himself as the cussing pastor (something I think he now regrets) and I’ve witnessed other Christians actually defend the use of foul language (warning: link contains foul language). It seems cussing is becoming more and more common place with Christians, especially the younger generation. This is a trend that needs to stop.
Before I examine the issue I should share my own battle with my tongue. I’ve worked in a prison system for over twenty years. As you might expect, prison culture sports its own, distinct colloquialisms – and most of them aren’t very pleasant. You would almost have to invent a new cuss word to find one I haven’t used or thought in my lifetime. When I first became a Christian in my early thirties, cussing was a major issue for me and had a big impact on my spiritual growth. I began to notice that I would only cuss when I was at work. I was fine at church, home, and other places, but at work I instantly reverted back to my old self. The problem reached critical mass one night when I slipped up and cussed in front of a coworker I had been trying to witness to. He responded in shock and said, “I thought you were some kind of big Christian or something!” In the blink of an eye it took me to utter one foul word, my entire testimony was damaged. And I suspect it remains damaged with that guy to this day. I knew then that I had to change and with God’s grace I have. God has given me the experience and the wisdom to know better, but I also know that old guy is still inside of me just waiting to rear his ugly head should I be angry enough. I share this with you so you will know where I’m coming from. I’m not speaking down to anyone … I’m speaking from experience.
What does the Bible say about cursing? It is obvious from Scripture that God considers words important. Think about this for a second, God spoke the world into existence! I once wrote an entire post about the power of God’s spoken word. I challenge you to read Genesis 1 and count how many times God speaks. God spoke into existence light, water, ground, vegetation, the atmosphere, birds, water creatures, and land creatures. I think it’s safe to assume His words impacted our world with their importance. And then God chose to inspire mankind to write the Bible, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Of all the ways God chooses to communicate with us, His primary vehicle is the written word. Words matter to God and they should matter to us!
Our words are important and they leave a mark of the people we are speaking to. Ephesians 4:29 makes it clear we should carefully consider the words we speak, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” In other words, we should build people up with our language rather than tear them down. Not every thought that enters our sinful minds should be spoken. The Apostle James spoke the clearest on this issue:
9 With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
When we curse men and women who were created in the likeness of God we are disrespecting the God who created them. The same God who values the spoken and written word. Quite frankly, this notion should trump any right we have to use foul and inappropriate language. God’s word says that even when we must confront someone with the truth we should do it in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Christians who justify foul language and insist on using it are putting their own needs ahead of God’s Word and God’s people. Romans 12:2 instructs us not to conform to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and when it comes to using foul language Christians need to renew their minds, quit conforming to the language of the world, and stand apart as God’s people.
When Christians cuss it instantly reveals certain facts about them:
- They evidently spend little time in God’s Word.
- They spend little time in prayer.
- They value fitting in with the culture more than they do obedience to God.
- They take little time to consider their words before they speak them … a trend that inevitably spills into other areas of their life.
- Their faith hasn’t changed them at all. People will not believe the Gospel has saved us if we haven’t allowed it to change simple things like our language.
We will not reach a dying world with inappropriate and foul language. It is time for us to stand apart from culture and become more like Jesus than the world.
Related Posts: The Power of the Spoken Word: The Voice of God