The Cussing Christian

It was sixth grade and AOL's Instant Messenger was the new big thing. My friends and I all had our own 'Buddy' lists of our friends. It was then that I began to take a real notice for cussing. A lot of my friends were doing it. A little piece of my sinful heart began to wonder about it.... Should I do it too?!

I knew it was wrong. Neither of my parents ever said a cuss word. I had learned from my older brothers to not say certain things simply because they were no-no's. In my young age, I was ignorant of what the words even meant. They were just things people said when they were angry... or simply because it was another word to insert into a sentence. After so long of witnessing it, I gave in. Only virtually, that is. During IM conversations I would blurt out one of those words. It made my sinful self feel better.. I felt like I fit in a little more.

What is it about cussing that causes people to take part it in anyway? Is it because those words actually mean something? Is it because it's just what 'everyone' does? Is it just one of those bad habits? Does cussing even mean very much anyway?
Should we be concerned?

It turned out that my God-given and never waning conviction turned the tide in my wrestling with cussing. Shortly after, when the guilt became too much for me, I admitted my little online chatting mistake to an older brother. That was the end of it for me.

Since that time so long ago, I've had a variety of conversations with many people about cussing and whether or not it's right. Some say it's just words. Some don't do it just because they know it's forbidden. Some do it only if they believe their emotions are so heightened that it then gives them the O.K. to blurt out a word or two.

Truthfully, the cussing Christian is one that has always had me baffled. Why do Christians do it? And why do they think it's okay? For those who know me exceptionally well, they know cussing is something I feel strongly about, and something I never waver to (Partially because I've already had my brief experience with it, which was more than enough, and also because, thankfully, God has given me an overwhelming amount of grace to keep me from it). The idea of a Christian cussing simply perplexes me.

I've seen Christians in all areas of my life who cuss. Church. Work. School. Close friends.

Not too long ago, I was inquired by someone about a certain word that is typically deemed a cuss word. They questioned whether or not I believed it was a cuss word. Without a doubt I said yes. Their response was somewhere along the lines of... It's not so bad or as bad, and their use of it is only when necessary. Strangely enough, this wasn't the first time the word had been brought to my attention in a question form.

With so many mixed feelings in the air, what is a Christian to do?
Here are my thoughts, take 'em or leave 'em.
(Skip straight down to #4 if you want to be straight and to the point).

1. Words do matter. They show the state of the heart.
One of the biggest arguments is that cuss words mean nothing. It's just a word, they say.
Well that can't be true. Otherwise we could all say God's name in vain and it would be no big deal. Right?

Luke 6:45
"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

Matthew 15:10-11
"And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Talk to a person for a little while. Simply by what they talk about, you'll know a lot of what they value and care for. You'll be able to tell at least a little about where their heart is. Does cussing reflect a heart that is saying "Jesus is Lord over my life and in all things I want to serve and glorify Him"?

2. Speak with intention.
Matthew 12:36-37
"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Often times, cuss words are spoken vainly and without much thought. They are thrown out simply because they can be. Does this show a desire for wisdom? Or does it show a lack of self-control through speech? Speak not carelessly like the above verse mentions, but instead speak with intention and purpose.

3. Speak only words that edify you and others listening.
2 Timothy 2:16
"But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,"

Ephesians 4:29
"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."

Ephesians 5:4
"Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving."

As long as I can recall, I have yet to hear a cuss word spoken in joy, in thankfulness, or in a positive way. Cuss words are infamously known to reflect negative events, people, experiences, objects, etc. Would God encourage His followers to use these words to build ourselves and others up?

4. Be honest with yourself: Does cussing glorify God?
1 Corinthians 10:31 says,
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

While the other points I mentioned above are important, they all lead to one main point: Does cussing glorify God?
It is the most simple yet most important question. If I am to be straight to the point about the topic of cussing, that is the question I would ask.

And it is not a question just for cussing, you should ask that question in regards to all the things you do in life. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and to be satisfied in Him, then whatever goes against that, we should not do, or at least not desire to do.

As Christians we should not dabble in things that are worldly, even if it's just a little bit - like my friend asking me what I thought of a certain cuss word. We should not say, "Well I think it's OK to go this far, because it's not really crossing the line, and it's really not that bad..." Saying that doesn't show a genuine concern for what pleases God. It shows a concern for how far we can go without entering major sin yet still pleasing our sinful desires.
As Christian's, we are representing the name of Jesus Christ. If someone honestly looks cussing straight in the eye, can they say that it pleases and brings glory to His name?

My goal in this blog post was not to condemn or to make people feel guilty. I realize that once someone has cussed for so long, it is a very difficult habit to break... as they say 'Old habits die hard.' The goal in all of my blog posts is to make people think, to make people connect their life and what they think and do, even the simple things, with their relationship with God. My goal is to encourage and motivate readers to be willing to sacrifice things or make changes, whether easy or hard, small or big, in order to be closer to God and glorify Him more.

As Paul says,

Romans 7:22-25
"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"


  1. Thanks so much for speaking about a subject that's not too much talked about these days. I HATE cussing and it drives me crazy when I hear Christians doing it. Using God's name in vain is huge and I try to let the kids in Sunday School know that it's WRONG but they hear it everywhere and it's so hard to break them of it.

  2. Wonderful post! Swearing is a hard thing for a lot of people; even Christians. Your words really speak the truth. Anything that doesn't glorify God shouldn't be said.

  3. @Kimberly
    Thanks a bunch! :) Yeah, I realize it is a pretty difficult struggle for some, unfortunately. I guess we all have those things that trip us up though. But God's grace IS sufficient! :)

    Hope you're well!


  4. If you look into linguistics and how language grows and changes in time, you'll find that these "cuss words" are simply cultural. Some folks think, for example, that "ass" is a perfectly acceptable term. Others frown upon that, and would only use "butt." Same with "shit" and "poop." Both are meaning the same thing, it's merely cultural. In time, the language will develop so that new words arise and the old are forgotten or become less severe. Like you quoted, 'Out of the abundance of the heart man speaks.' If one says "darn" in the same manner they would say "damn," they fall under the same problem, because what they mean is precisely the same. Most of my good Christian friends say the latter. But I do not doubt their passion and love for Christ and others. Some say "darn" and I don't doubt their's either. It's cultural, passed down from parents. Those words have nothing to do with heart condition. A person angrily calling someone an idiot is in as much sin as a person calling someone a -insert "swear word" here- You dishonor God with the intent and meaning of the words coming out, not the words themselves. Of course, we should try to be educated and speak well. But not everyone has that advantage. It's simply intent. Careful not to take those scripture passages out of context.

  5. @Anonymous #2, (prepare for a long response...)

    Part 1:
    I read over your response multiple times. I'm not quite sure which side you are taking, if any. Are you saying it is okay for a Christian to cuss?

    I feel I understand the perspective and reasoning you are coming from, but I don't feel like your response is necessarily Biblically sound (if so, feel free to give me a Bible verse). Some cuss words originally had meanings that were not meant to be obscene or offensive. I do know the word "ass" is mentioned in the Bible, and there it is okay. But how many people actually use a cuss word for its genuine meaning? And I don't think it is correct or accurate to say that certain words and cuss words mean the same thing.

    I feel you somewhat contradict yourself when you say it's not a heart condition. However, shortly after you say that it is just as much of a sin for someone to say idiot or darn, as opposed to a swear word. Is sin not a heart condition or issue?

    Simply because something is cultural or passed down does not mean it is okay. Alcoholism is passed down, does that make it acceptable? Most things passed down are something you have without choice. Cussing is a choice.


  6. Part 2:

    As Christian's, we represent the name of Jesus Christ. Do you think cussing pleases God? (Literally, think about it, would most people say a cuss word in the presence of God?). Let's use your example of someone using darn with the same intent as someone using a cuss word. Are you saying that person should just go ahead and say a cuss word since they mean the same anyway?
    I would think that in that moment, that person, whether they say darn or another word, should look at their heart and go straight to God when realizing their wrongful intent. I do agree that intent IS very important, but I believe the words themselves are too. As Jesus said... "But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty WORD they have spoken. For by your WORDS you will be acquitted, and by your WORDS you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

    I do not believe I took any Bible verse out of context. If I did, please tell me how.

    In my opinion, being educated has nothing to do with whether or not a person cusses. Neither of my parents attained any education beyond high school, and lived in a trailer park for several years (and with saying that, I love them dearly and admire them greatly). Clearly it was the work of the Holy Spirit that guided them to not cuss after they became saved, not an education.

    I feel like people treat the topic of cussing much like abortion. They think of all the odds and ends (or excuses) that might make it okay... like for abortion they say rape or incest, when in fact 93% of all abortions are done with healthy mothers and healthy babies from normal situations (and less than 1% comes from rape/incest). In much with cussing, most people don't mean them in a non-offensive way, and most people do not use them with their original meaning. Most people, if not all, know exactly what they mean (offensively), and say them for exactly what they mean. If a person who is a Christian does this, then there is a lack of discernment and wisdom. Certainly ignorance should never be an excuse for not doing the right thing.

    In conclusion, I'm not quite sure what you perceived by my post initially. By writing this post I was not saying that people who cuss cannot or are not Christians. I was hoping to provoke thought for those who do cuss, to get them to think whether or not it is a wise thing to do. Even if it's all about intent, and not the words, that does not give us the right or OK to say them. In fact, that should give us all the more reason to look at our hearts and pray that God would give us grace to soften and change them so that we may not cuss.

    It is hard to express emotions or voice expression through a comment on the internet, but I hope you read this as a thoughtful dialogue, as opposed to a harsh, uncaring, and misunderstanding monolog.

    Thanks so much for your comment. It certainly got me thinking and I can appreciate when anyone does that for me! I hope I did the same for you.


  7. I guess my overall point is our language has turned to a place where there are not clear distinctions on which words are swear words and which words are not swear words, so as Christians, we must be careful to remember that. Depending on where in the Western culture we live, words mean different things. For example, in a particular inner city black community I've been blessed to be apart of this past year, the words "hell," "damn," and "ass" are thrown out by all kinds of people, even preachers. They are not dishonoring God anymore than a person saying that they are. In their culture and environment, those are words they are comfortable with that mean something different than say an upper class family from a small suburban town. That is simply how languages work. I know people who would never utter those type of words, but they have other words that fill the gaps. A person that says, "Oh shit, I dropped my phone," where that word has always been acceptable by their family and community is viewed, I believe, by God in the same way as one who says, "Oh crap (or poop, or darn, etc), I dropped my phone." In the future years, "shit" will be equally acceptable, because language changes. New words will develop to fill the space. To reply to "Simply because something is cultural or passed down does not mean it is okay." That is somewhat true, but the culture one man is from says that these (let's say words such as "shit" and "ass") are okay. Another culture another man is from says, "No those words are not okay...but it is okay to say crap and rump." Who is right? Perhaps we should eliminate all those words. And to address the education point I made, I mean this: we should try to educate ourselves to know what is acceptable to the culture around us. But, not everyone has that advantage, either in book or experience education. That is what I was meaning. A man who grows up saying those words and uses them does not consider them a cuss words, and another does. The Bible does not give us a list. How can we know? It is cultural, and all about the intent of the heart.

  8. ...and continuing.

    To address the out of context scripture passages now. You use Luke 6:45. But there is much more to that passage, which diminishes your main point. You ask, based off these passages, "Does cussing reflect a heart that is saying "Jesus is Lord over my life and in all things I want to serve and glorify Him"? The passage says,
    43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."
    This has nothing to do with cussing, and cussing often has nothing to do with where their heart is. That passage is about man's words and actions aligning. Before this, Jesus talks about not judging the heart, or others, but judging yourself. Then verses 43-45 are meant to be taken personally, examining one's own actions and words and heart. So yes, cussing, as in cursing something to damnation, but not necessarily a specific word. Also, Matthew 15. This is not about cursing. This is about the heart condition with which man approaches God during worship, because the Pharisees sang honor with their lips but their hearts were far from Christ. Yet they washed their hands. The disciples did not, but their worshiped God with pure words, even though "filthy" bread went into them.
    Matthew 12 was Jesus countering the Pharisees who vainly judged him for casting out demons in the name of Satan. He said this was empty and vain, and careless, because that would mean Satan was working against himself. He was cleverly countering the Pharisees.
    As for 2 Timothy 2. Also, out of context. This is not about swearing. This to the head of churches, the elders, the wiser among the body. It is to instruct them. You see, people in the church were actually quarreling about words. But Timothy tells them, stop, this doesn't matter, there are more important issues.
    "14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter..."
    It is to the pastors, telling them to avoid such debate, as they are irreverent and won't build up the body.

    You believe that Christians should sacrifice swearing, in order to be closer to God and glorify Him more, according to your last paragraph. My point is, this swearing isn't holding many Christians back from that. They are not dishonoring God, because the words mean something different where they are from. You say, "In fact, that should give us all the more reason to look at our hearts and pray that God would give us grace to soften and change them so that we may not cuss." Cussing is not a black and white issue. Some say there are no lines, and some say there are. The Bible does not provide a line either. Someone who says, "You smell like poop" or someone who says, "You smell like shit" are equally coarse in their jesting, as Ephesians talks about.
    And please, do not compare swearing to abortion. That is not an appropriate comparison.
    God bless you, and I mean no offense to you by my opinions. I think this was a good, healthy debate thus far, that educated well in matters of Christianity and culture.

  9. If I were to respond to everything you said, I think I would write even more than you did! :P

    Therefore, I'll be brief this time. :)

    I've really, really, thought about all that you mentioned, and what we discussed. I see the issue you present and understand it fully. I completely agree that cussing is not black and white. It could never be so simple because one could never truly know what was meant behind someone elses words.

    To keep it simple and to the point, I think that at the bottom line, there are a few things to be considered when dealing with cussing as a Christian.

    -If it could cause someone to stumble, don't do it. (1 Cor. 8)
    -Always remember you are representing Jesus and His character and would never want to cause an unbeliever to stumble in regards to Christianity either.
    -If you have personal conviction, don't do it. (Romans 14)
    -If it isn't wholesome, pure, or edifying, don't do it. (Eph 4:29; Eph 5:4; Coloss 3:8)
    -And the obvious: If the intent is all or mostly sinful, then don't do it, and the issue lies between that person and God, and should be dealt with.

    Most of it for me is personal conviction, and that is not something I can change, or should want to.

    I believe you and I could agree on the above mentioned as well as that generally speaking, Christians should be discerning in their word preferences, for themselves and for those who listen. It is better to err on the safe side, than the wrong side.

    I feel I have "met you midway on the bridge", and with that I am satisfied. I hope you are too! Thanks for the thought provoking discussion. ;)


  10. I agree. We as Christians need to remain consistent. If we have surrendered our lives to the work of Christ we must act that way; even with the way we speak. Great post; relevant and true!

  11. I completely agree Marsha! I think this is a big issue that is glossed over too often. Words themselves SPEAK about us!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)
    And thank you so much for viewing and taking part in my blog (and life journey)! Hope you are blessed. :)



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