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!