I have ultra intelligent friends who claim that cursing (or “cussing” as we say in Texas), is not a big deal. In fact, they have a certain way of talking about it with a particular mix of brilliance and condescension when they suggest that God laughs at the fact that people like me believe that there’s anything wrong with cursing. One friend told me that one day we’ll get to Heaven and learn that Jesus thinks it is so hilarious that Christians hate the F-word so much.
Well, I haven’t been to Heaven, but I believe the Bible makes it clear that Jesus isn’t a fan of cursing. In fact, there are multiple, clear evidences in the Bible that teach us that cursing is something that God takes seriously and dislikes very much.
Take Ephesians 4:29, for example:
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen the F-word “help” any situation. Ever. As a matter of fact, cursing generally hurts any type of message that you’re trying to convey. It doesn’t properly express anger or any type of emotion. It just makes you sound like you need vocabulary lessons. And, Paul clearly states here that we are to “let nothing foul or dirty” come out of our mouths. The Bible is “god-breathed,” meaning that the Holy Spirit inspired every word. Do you suppose the Holy Spirit lied to Paul and caused him to write something that God didn’t intend? Or was Paul just more “up tight” than Jesus, putting extra constraints on Christians by telling us not to curse? If you believe the Bible, you will admit that neither can be true. Paul is expressing the idea that appears multiple times in scripture: Christians are to speak in pleasant, gentle, holy, and self-controlled ways. Cursing simply doesn’t fit into this calling
Paul says it another way in Ephesians 5:3-4:
…Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
I love the way this is translated here (in The Message Bible). You see, it’s not a matter of intelligence or coolness. We don’t have to be intimidated by those who say we’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Just smile and say, “Sorry, I’m a Christian. Cursing is not my style.”
And, then he goes on to say that our language should be nothing but Thanksgiving talk! I love it. It’s really hard to praise God and curse at the same time. James 3:10 says as much:
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on.
I know I’m not the most brilliant mind around. But, I just don’t believe that we can live up to our potential as Christians and as witnesses if we curse. Cursing shows disregard for God’s word and a lack of respect for our fellow humans. Right now I’m thinking of some of the coolest people that I know, and none of them go around saying crude or foul things. I love it when people speak light and life and love. The f-word really doesn’t fall into any of those categories. And, I’m convinced Jesus would never use it or enjoy hearing it, even if some of my more intellectual friends disagree.
The Bible tells us that our mouths say whatever our hearts are full of (Matthew 12:34). As Christians, if our mouths are constantly spewing nastiness into the world, we need to examine our hearts. Maybe we’re watching and listening to the wrong things. Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that cursing is not really a sin or that it doesn’t hurt anything or that Jesus has bigger fish to fry than worrying about which four-letter words we use. Maybe we are stubborn. Maybe we love the world too much. Whatever the case, when we hear ourselves saying what we know cannot bring praise or glory to God, and what we know cannot build up our fellow Christians, chances are, we are thinking on, watching, and caring about the wrong things.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
The Christian life should be a continual exercise in dwelling on what is true and what is Christ-like. I just don’t see how profanity fits into that picture. If you’re a Christian, remember your dialect: thanksgiving, always. Cursing just isn’t Jesus’s style. And, it isn’t ours either.