When I attended a Christian college, I spent much of my time
in competitive public speaking. I made sure that everything I said in
competition represented me and my speech team well. I wouldn’t have dreamed of
cursing when the judges were watching me. But once the competition was over, look
out! A friend recently sent me a link to a video of a well-known broadcaster
cursing like crazy. I wasn’t so much horrified by his behavior as I was
thankful that no one has video of me behaving just as badly!
No one ever told me that my cursing was unbecoming of a
Christian. They didn’t really have to. The more time I spent with people who
sought to honor Christ, the less foul language I heard. The less foul language
I heard, the less I used.
With the recent popularity of Internet acronyms, I have
noticed that people feel more comfortable cursing in code—even Christians. Is
there anything wrong with swearing? Or swearing via acronyms? If you don’t hold
to the teachings of Christianity or another faith that frowns upon swearing,
maybe not. Although anyone who curses in the wrong context risks appearing
crude or uneducated, my post today is addressed solely to those who want to
lead godly lives.
You may already have an opinion on swearing. You may think
nothing of it. You may think it’s funny. You may think it’s offensive. But
whatever you or I think about it does not matter if we are Christians. What matters
is what God has to say about it.
One of the Ten Commandments addresses a common form of
Exodus 20:7 "You shall not misuse the name of
the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his
God’s name was held in such reverence by the Israelites that
they did not speak it and still today observant Jews will not write it in its
entirety. Yet many Christians abuse the Lord’s name in obvious ways by
essentially asking God to damn something or using the name of Jesus Christ as a
curse. The more subtle and common misuse of God’s name is by casually emitting “oh
my” followed by God’s name. If we are really not calling out to God, are we
misusing His name? Does the use of an acronym get us out of our violation of
I remember my mother telling me that her mother didn’t use
expressions like omigosh or gee because these were just variations on the same
theme. I have a habit of using these expressions and though I’d like to argue
that they’re not the same thing at all, I think I’d lose that debate. I’m going
to add cleaning up my language to my list of goals for the year.
What about other forms of swearing?
James 3:9-11 says:
9With the tongue we praise
our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's
likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and
cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both
fresh water and salt[a] water flow from the same spring?
If you have any question about the appropriateness of a
particular phrase or expression you are fond of, ask yourself if you were in
the presence of the Lord whether you would use it. If not, be reminded that we
are always in the presence of the Lord.
Just as I considered my language as I represented my speech team, so we
ought to consider all of our communications as representing our Savior.
Taming the tongue (and our fingers at the keyboard) is a
challenge, isn’t it? It would be easy to get discouraged if not for another
truth from God’s Word:
34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who
died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is
also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or
nakedness or danger or sword?
Jesus did not come to condemn us. Rather, he defends us even
as we continue to fail. What’s more is that our cursing cannot separate us from
God or His salvation. Watching our language isn’t about law; it’s about love. I
love God so much that I do not want to dishonor Him.
As your sister in Christ, I ask that you would
consider joining me this year in seeking a G-rating on our communications. G
being for godly of course. 🙂