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What Does the Bible Say About..Profanity?

What’s your view on cussing?


[This questioner did not give me an e-mail address to respond to, so posting this on the web site is the only way to respond to him/her. If you ask me a question, please include an e-mail address if you expect an answer.]

Since this site claims to answer what the Bible says about various subjects, it doesn’t matter what my view on cussing is. Other than that I don’t personally use foul language, and don’t like to hear it from others (particularly from children), my opinion doesn’t matter much.

If you want to know what the Bible says about the subject, that is a different matter. That also depends on how you define cussing. There are basically two types of cussing. There is that which uses God’s name or other things from the Bible, and then there are those words that have to do with bodily functions or other non-biblical things.

In response to the first category, God made his views clear in his commandments to the Jewish nation, commonly called the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) Here he is probably talking about those who use God’s name to back up an oath, and then break the oath, but it involves more than just that. The Jewish teachers say it is wrong to say a meaningless prayer, such as blessing God for food, and then not eating it. That would be using God’s name in an empty way. Another aspect would be to use God’s name when you really aren’t talking to him. This would include much “cussing,” such as saying, “Oh, God” when something unpleasant happens, or using the phrase “Jesus Christ” as an exclamation. After all, how would you like it if every time something happened somebody called your name. The first few times you might ask what they wanted. Eventually it would just get irritating.

For some of the words or phrases in that first category, and most in the second, there is a scripture that might apply. “And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment, for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by they words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37) My experience in the Navy taught me that most cussing was “idle words;” most people didn’t even realize that they were even using the words. Jesus says to think before you speak, because your words will be used to judge you.

Beyond that, much cussing is simply objectionable to other people. It should not be used just on the principle, “Whatsoever you would have men do unto you, do also unto them.” (Matthew 7:12) Be sensitive to the feelings of others.