I once served as an admin for a Facebook group with over 30,000 professing Christians. When we reviewed requests to join the group, it was often disheartening to see the number of profiles that contain lewd pictures, crass jokes, and straight-up profanity on their Facebook walls. Often, there are Bible verses and cuss words randomly interspersed throughout their posts. We also ended up having to delete a lot of posts from members who use profane or obscene language in their posted conversations.
I believe many/most of these people are actually church-going, professing Christians. What troubles me most about this is that you have to be far more intentional about what you type, or post, than you are about what you say verbally. If you slam your fingers in the car door, something will emit from your vocal chords and your mouth. It’s not premeditated. I am thankful, that because I never started the nasty habit of swearing, for me, it’s not cuss words. If cussing is your background, and/or you were raised with profane language, that may, unfortunately, be your default (until Christ has renewed your mind).
But online, you actually have to think about using that curse word, and you have to type it out…and you can even go back and delete it after you typed it. So there is really just no excuse for that kind of behavior whatsoever. Admittedly, sometimes it’s not actually using the word itself, it’s the popular online acronyms (for example: OMG! for Oh My God!). Evoking God or Jesus in everyday, crude references shows disrespect and a lack of honor for what is holy. If you don’t mean to say the actual words, don’t use the acronyms that represent them either.
To give the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to assume that perhaps many new Christians have simply not studied what the Bible has to say on this issue, and are ignorant of what God requires of us as His followers. Please allow me to share some Scriptures on this topic for your consideration.
What Does the Bible Say about Profanity?
Colossians 3:8 ESV:
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Ephesians 4:29 ESV:
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.
James 3:10 ESV:
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Matthew 15:11 ESV:
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
Matthew 12:36 ESV:
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
James 5:12 ESV:
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Romans 12:2 ESV:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Proverbs 8:13 ESV:
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
Psalm 141:3 ESV:
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Proverbs 18:21 ESV:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
James 3:1-18 ESV:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! …
1 Peter 1:15 ESV:
But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
2 Timothy 2:16 ESV:
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.
Proverbs 4:23 ESV:
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
If you find yourself in a habit of using profane or inappropriate language, here are the initial steps to break free:
1. Recognize your need to change, and your inability to do it on your own.
2. Ask God to forgive you and change your heart.
3. Saturate your mind in God’s word, memorize it and apply it.
4. Confess and repent EVERY TIME you blow it.
5. Strategically practice speaking words of encouragement to others. It will help to re-wire your brain with thoughts of gratitude, rather than bitterness and anger.
6. Be willing to seek accountability and prayer support from others.
7. Journal your progress (and setbacks). This will give you perspective over time.
The Holy Spirit can, and does, change our hearts and words. Participate with Him in His work!
Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is also the Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net
I agree! Thank you for sharing!
Most pastors do not address the issue of being in the world but not of the world. Most churches use mimicry of the world in their programs. Reading the entire Bible is not even suggested for the comfortable denizens of the pews in these fellowships. As a result, most Christians are ignorant of the standard for a Christian being different from the world.
Excellent!! Thank you for speaking up on this issue that many ignore!!
Thank you so much for addressing this. I’m 53 years old so I sometimes wonder if I’m just an old fuddy duddy, but I just ask myself if I would hear the Lord using such words as the p*** word and “that sucks” (not in reference to vacuum cleaners!), both of which I hear quite often amongst Christians, & I am quite sure He would not. Just like with the issue of modesty, we shouldn’t be asking how much we can get away with, but how can we be most pleasing to our Savior through our words and deeds. I’m no saint, believe me, but just want us all to encourage each other towards more holiness. God bless you for all you do!
Sucks is not a swear word. It’s slang, but not profanity. Jesus might not have said like, dude, gnarly, bogus, or totally either but I don’t think it offends Him when we do because there is nothing profane about any of these words. I agree with the article, but let’s not go accusing people of swearing when they’re not.
There IS an obscene/sexual connotation to that word that’s inappropriate for a follower of Christ.
I agree 100%! Thank you for addressing this issue.
I agree. Great list of scriptures. I’m going to pass this article along to some people.
This is really good, Israel. Thanks for writing it. I am in the position where I believe God is convicting me of the need to avoid condemning Christians who use profanities and obscenities, yet I urge God’s people to let the Holy Spirit sanctify their speech patterns.
I would like to offer some further cautions. I believe the Lord has convicted me of using euphemistic profanities. I have purposed (though not yet completely successfully) to avoid or eliminate such words as “darn” or “dang” (euphemisms for “damn”), “Gosh” or “Golly” (euphemisms for “God”), “Gee” or “Sheesh” (euphemisms for “Jesus”), and “heck” (euphemism for “hell”). “Gosh darn” actually means “God damn.” Without condemning other brothers & sisters who don’t see a need to be so careful, I’m asking the Lord to “Set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips.” He is faithful to do that.
This is exactly what I have been giving so much thought to as of late!!! I go into default mode, and words come out, as a reaction, but I don’t use them any other time. I don’t speak in that way, like I did in the past. I have been repenting, and asking the Lord to change me.
I am saddened by the number of “Christians” who use foul language, or crude jokes. I have even mentioned it in my status. It is interesting the feedback that II have gotten from it. I have actually considered the fact that some, who claim to be Christians, are really not…but are self deceived.
This was a well written article! I pray that many will give deep consideration to it.
Thanks for this. I too have been befuddled by the incongruent nature of posts by professing Christians. Nice to see I’m not alone.
I am just discovering this thread (line of thought)and although finding it interesting must suggest that Christian ‘Law’ a is an oxy-moron. There is no such thing. Although our regeneration is participatory it is the work of the Holy Spirit to overhaul our very psyche….thus changing our ‘default’. Paul did not say (Gal. 5:16) ‘if we resist the flesh we will be walking in the Spirit’. He said, ‘ if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. There is a huge difference. To focus on ‘do not’s’ is to focus on law.
This is such a concern of mine. I often pray for people who use profanity or tell crude jokes and think it’s totally acceptable for a Christian to do so.
It’s not a matter of being legalistic. It’s a matter of believing the Word that says “faith without works is dead.” Our faith should come out in our speech just as it does in our actions.