Season: 10 Episode: 150
Listen to episode 146 in Spanish:
Why do some Christians cuss? Is cussing a sin? The book of James tells us no one can tame the tongue because it is an unruly evil. And while we could go through each word and evaluate whether or not it’s okay to say, the issue is far deeper than dropping an F-bomb. Shanda talks about the two categories our words fit into and what our words reveal about us. If we have to give an account for every idle word we speak, what does that say about the value of words? A lot more than you might think.
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Hey guys! Welcome back to Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and tackle them with Biblical truth. I have a listener requested episode for you today and I am here for this one. This is one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately so I am happy to tackle it.
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I had someone ask me about christians cussing and if it’s a sin to say bad words.
Now, we all know what bad words are, right? I don’t have to say them or spell them out because we’re all adults here and we all know what an F bomb is. In this episode, we’re going to evaluate:
- What does saying cuss words reveal about you?
- Why is your mouth a witness to others?
- What do you do once you hit stop on this episode? Application.
What does saying cuss words reveal about you?
As I said before, cuss words are the words considered derogatory in our culture. We have all listened to the family friendly version of music lyrics and bad words are omitted or bleeped out. Everytime you hear a bleeped out word, you can likely guess which cuss word was bleeped out because they are inserted contextually. That means these words have meaning.
Some of the arguments I hear from people who excuse away their potty mouths are:
- Words are made up by people, so it doesn’t matter if we say them because people are the ones who made them bad words.
- It’s an excuse for being overly emotional and they don’t really mean what they said.
- I have to cuss so people know I’m serious.
What does the Bible say about this?
We’re going to first examine Ephesians 4:29-32 because it has so much depth in it. Otherwise, we’re going to sit here and say why the F word is a bad word an why the word freakin in place of the F word is permissible. And there’s a deeper issue that needs to be addressed other than a list of do’s and don’ts in regard to bad words.
Here is the ESV to Ephesians 4:29-32:
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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
First, Paul says not to let any corrupt talk come out of your mouths.
What is corrupt talk? The word corrupt here is an adjective. It is used to describe the words we speak. And corrupt means having errors or to be broken morally. In the Greek, the adjective means rotten.
We are instructed by Paul on how to use our words. So I would ask, what words do we speak fit into the category of corruption? Because according to this verse, there are two categories:
- Words that build up
Paul tells us to speak words that fit the occasion. In the Greek, Paul is telling us to speak words that fit the need. When we speak words that do not speak to the need and impart grace to the hearer, it is sin and all sin grieves God. So yes, we do see that any of our words the fit into the corrupt or rotten category are sinful and grieve God.
Think of it this way: every word you speak is being heard by someone.
Why do we speak? To be heard.
James categorizes words into these two categories when he says in James 3:9-12 NIV, “9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
James spoke a lot of double-ness. He opened his letter with the double minded man who doubted and went back and forth like a wave tossed by the ocean. The doubleness refers to someone who goes back and forth in his face – he tries to please God and the world. And now they use the same tongue to praise God and curse men.
In keeping with the theme of our categories of speech:
corruption and words that build up, we can say James categorized them this way:
You Praise God: words that build up
You Curse your brother made in Gods image: words of corruption
Can Fresh water come out of the same spigot?: words that build up
And Salt water come out of that spigot too?: words of corruption
You have a spring – it’s either fresh or bitter. You have a tree and it will bear the fruit of what it is. What does that mean? You will produce with your mouth that which is growing out of your heart.
That’s what our words reveal about us – they reveal what’s in our hearts. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
And James and Paul are both speaking to the Christian. An unsaved person could care less about his speech and whether or not it pleases God. When we claim to be Christians and yet say bad words – corrupt and rotten speech – it reveals what’s in our hearts. It shows the doubleness of pleasing God and pleasing man or the flesh.
And I read the other day, and I agree with this, that when you cuss, it shows you’re emotional and it reveals a lack of self-control. So I hope we established that as a Christian, our speech matters. Our words matter. We speak to be heard, so what we say is entering the ears of those around us.
Why is your mouth a witness to others?
Just like with everything else we discuss on this show, when you are a Christian, you are different than the rest of the culture. Literally, you will stick out like a sore thumb when it comes to everything you do – including your language.
In fact, how often do you recognize when someone you’re around does not say bad words or speaks in a crude manner? I notice when others do very easily because we do not say bad words in our home or talk dirty. If someone I’m around does, I notice it quickly. So if you’re around people who say cuss words, for example, they will notice that you don’t. If you’re around people who don’t say cuss words and you do, they will notice your potty mouth. What are you being noticed for? Blending in or standing out?
Paul said in Colossians 4:6 to “let your conversations be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” What is a conversation? A definition of this word is, “A talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people.”
Do you notice that Paul is including casual conversations as part of his instruction on how to use words?
Sometimes we think that if we’re talking to a close friend or family member who knows us well, we can loosen up and speak freely. Do you have that one friend you can get stupid with and just be a complete idiot, laugh at dumb things, talk about people with, and digress back to your high school days? Yeah, me too. And actually, I have to be more careful with casual conversations because we tend to say more during those conversations than we would in more formal conversation or with those we want to impress.
But is not excusing us from our responsibility to speak words of grace and salt – non corrupt words – even in casual conversations because they affect those around us.
Notice here that our speech has both grace and salt.
Our words are a testimony of who we belong to. If we say we’re Christians but say bad words, crude jokes, or rotten responses to others, what does that do to the words that point them to Christ? It pollutes them, as James said.
Words that are wise, full of grace and seasoned with salt have value. We can devalue our words. Here are just a few verses from Proverbs that show the value of our words:
Prov 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” – a fitly spoken is the key phrase. This is linked closely to Paul’s words in Ephesians – that we are to speak words that fit the occasion. It brings value to your words. Your words are properly placed – like apples of gold in settings of silver.
An out of place word to someone listening won’t make sense.
They will not remember you the next time they need advice. Your words will not carry value or meaning to them. An out of place word is not for the hearer. It’s selfish. It’s for the speaker. Out of place words are cuss words, derogatory words, filthy words.
They’re empty. Jesus talks about giving an account for every idle word we speak. The Greek phrase for empty is rema argos, careless or inactive. They are not valuable words, or effective words. They are useless words and produce no fruitfulness to the conversation. Jesus is equating our words here (Matthew 12) to the good things stored up in a person’s heart compared to the evil things stored up in a person’s heart.
Again, let’s tie this in our two categories: corrupt and words that build up or bring life.
The words we speak show others what we’re made of. Our words reveal to others who we belong to. It reveals what’s rooted in our hearts. Our words show others whether or not what we say and what we do align. And if our words and actions do align, your words have influence.
I do want to make clear that your words do not have power to manifest something from nothing. Proverbs tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue, and again, here we see that this fits into the two categories for the words we speak: corrupt words or words that build up, life giving words. But that does not mean we can speak things into existence like God does.
So now what?
We’re answering the question: Is it wrong for Christians to cuss. As we looked through the Bible verses and discussed the original language to get a better meaning, we can conclude that it is wrong, or a sin for Christians to cuss.
But if you want to get technical, it doesn’t end there. Our words are important. I am studying Genesis now and in Genesis chapter 1, there is a repeated and organized manner in which creation came into existence. Each day begins with, “God said .. and it was so. God saw that it was good.” If you go through that whole chapter, you will see that in every day of creation, except 7 when God rested.
God’s words are purposeful.
Yes, He is God and He is powerful and because He is all powerful, His words can bring something from nothing. But that does not mean that because our words cannot bring something from nothing, they are meant to be less purposeful.
We are called to be careful with our words. But the real issue is not your word, it’s your heart. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. I know people who let their words fly when they’re angry. They lose all sense of self-control and start dropping bombs. If that’s you, I think it’s good to acknowledge when it’s difficult to keep your words in check and take that before the Lord and ask for help.
I also know people who say dirty jokes when they loosen up in casual conversation.
I would ask, “Are the people you feel comfortable saying those things to less valuable than the ones you watch your language around?” If they’re close friends, shouldn’t we consider how we speak to and around them?
My point is – take it to the Lord and ask Him to help you. But it does begin by realizing this is a heart problem. It also begins by acknowledging when you lose your filter in conversations with others and be more aware of it.
Lastly, in my study in Genesis, I went back through and circled all the times God separated parts of creation. He separated the sea from the land. He separated the waters from the waters.
God is a God that makes distinctions in creation.
But He also makes distinctions between His people and those who don’t want to be His. God calls us to be separate from the rest of the world. He tells us to come out from among them and be separate, or set apart, or holy.
This is the idea of sanctification – the process after we get saved (justified by the saving work of Christ, but the Holy Spirit). Over time, our speech should change. Our jokes should change. Our words should mature. That’s the “coming out from among them” part. It shows we don’t speak the same way the world does. Part of noticing a changed life is noticing the way someone talks. Are we different than the rest of the world?
I want to close this out today by saying that we are all in different places when it comes to our walk with God. And that’s fine. It’s part of the sanctification process. But I would caution anyone trying to excuse away the fact that cussing or crude jokes are not a sin.
My youngest son will often ask his brothers a question and if he doesn’t think they’re telling him the truth he asks, “Would you tell that to Jesus?” It makes me laugh because he knows if they might lie to him, but they won’t lie to Jesus. And I guess we can apply that 13 year old logic to our own words, right? If you don’t think what comes out of your mouth is a sin, would you talk that way in front of Jesus? Because the point that my 13 year old doesn’t draw out when he asks this question is this: Jesus is listening to your conversation and knows anyway. So you kinda did tell is to Jesus.
If you wouldn’t talk that way in front of Jesus, maybe you shouldn’t be saying it at all.
If you have any questions for me you can email me at email@example.com and I’ll catch you on the next one.