Christian Swearing and Swear Words : A Lesson on Guarding Your Tongue

by Jack Wellman on October 6, 2011 · Print Print · Email Email

Is it okay for a Christian to swear?  What about euphemisms?  And the often heard, “Oh my God!”  Is that using God’s name in vain?

Is It Okay For a Christian to Swear? 

I hope this is a no-brainer for Christians.  It is not okay to swear using bad language and especially using God’s name in cuss words or swearing.  Paul is clear about this in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  This would include telling dirty jokes, making off-color remarks, and making lewd or lascivious gestures.  These are all considered sin by biblical standards.  These are not gray areas.  It is wrong to use profane language, calling someone names, and even using euphemisms.

A Definition of Euphemisms

A euphemisms is where one word is substituted for another.  When people say “gheeze” or jeewiz, they are actually substituting these words as euphemisms.  These are euphemisms for Jesus’ name. They might not think that they are actually swearing but even using names as a substitution, it is considered sin.  When someone says, “Darn!” or “Darn it!“ they are actually substituting it for “Damn!” or “Damn it!”.  And the often used “Oh my God!” is obvious taking God‘s name in vain, even if people don’t‘ think so.  Even further, the use of “Oh my gosh!” is a euphemism for “Oh my God!” and there is no difference at all.  That is the way that God looks at it and it is breaking the Third Commandment.  God hears it as a substitution for His name and we are told not to take God’s name in vain at any time and for any reason.  Taking His name in vain means using it in a  careless, useless, or meaningless way.  Sometimes people will even attach the word “damn” after it and this God hates.  This is clearly sin.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 “that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”

How about the euphemism “Gosh”?  This too is a euphemism for “God”.  It is no different than taking God’s name and using it in a useless or vain way.  God will not hold those guiltless who profane His name.  Exodus 20:7 is clear on this: “”You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  Leviticus 19:12 says, “”‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”  Deuteronomy 5:11 records “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  Jesus is Lord and God and so when you use His name in vain or a euphemism for it, it is sin as well.

Taming of the Tongue

Everyone has slips of the tongue.  Even Christians sometimes say things that they later regret.  The Bible is full of stories about people saying things that they regretted saying.  A moment of anger gets the best of all of us.  Unfortunately, it only takes one moment of anger to wipe out seven years of being a good example.  James warns us about the power of the tongue:

James 1:26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James has almost an entire chapter dedicated to the tongue and its power to do both good and to do bad.  Remember that James, the half brother of Christ, is writing to Christians.  He speaks of the deadly venom that can be spewed by the tongue in James 1:2-12:

“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 1Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

And James says in 3:6: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

Guarding Your Tongue

Jesus understood that our words reflect what is inside of our hearts.  In Matthew 12:34 He said, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  In Matthew 15:1, 17-18 Jesus says “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

Keeping anger in check is a hard thing to do because we battle the flesh constantly.  The wisdom literature of Solomon bids us to watch ourselves closely and regard what we say.

Proverbs 22:1 reminds us that “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Proverbs 21:23Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”

Words of Grace 

Whenever possible, I love to choose words that I call the “Three E’s”; edifying, exhorting, and encouraging.  Words have real power: Either for good or for evil.  They hold the power of life and death.  When given the choice, choose to speak what is good.  Not flattery which is insincere and is like being a false witness, but by sincere compliments.  Words can be the spice of life or the pall of death.

Proverbs 31:26 “She opens her mouth with wisdom,  And on her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Proverbs 15:1A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 11:9With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.”

Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 12:25Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

Proverbs 16:21The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.”

Proverbs 16:22-23The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.  Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  

The next time you feel anger boiling up inside of you and you feel you are about to say something out loud like a euphemism, an angry word, or something you might regret, hide this verse in your heart:

Colossians 4:6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

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What Are the Gifts of the Spirit?

Is Smoking A Sin

Should Christians Get Tattoos?

Sources

The Holy Bible, New International Version

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam October 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm

WOW, Jack this is such a great reminder of how easy it is to lose control of our tongue. Such a small little member but such a large offender! I suppose I ought to stop saying “cheese whiz” … well unless I have some crackers for it! Great article sir.

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Jack Wellman October 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Thanks Pam. I am glad that Jesus told Peter that we must forgive others “70 times 7″(or to infinity actually) because I am forever and daily needing to come to the Mercy Seat. LOL….I love Cheese Whiz! That’s good. In our home, we substitute expressions of discomfort or anger with “Can you believe it!”. I do hope that’s acceptable.

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Marquez January 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Great teaching! As a Pastor this was very helpful, can’t wait to share with our congregation here in San Francisco, California!

Thanks & God Bless

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Jack January 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Hello Marquez….as a fellow pastor to another, you made my day friend. Welcome to the website. Please come again sir. May God richly bless you sir in your labor of love in the Lord Jesus Christ! :-)

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George Burks January 19, 2012 at 2:20 am

I would like to share that I have asked Jesus to help me with what comes out of my mouth. On more than one occasion, I would be talking and a slip of the tongue was about to occur and what came out of my mouth was silence in place of the word which was very noticeable to me. I cannot take any credit for this at all because it is by the grace of God that I did not sin. I try not to ask for things of the flesh, only that Jesus guide me to the Father.

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Jack January 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Thank you Mr. Burks for your comment. Your asking the right Source for guidance, that is for sure. There is no more surer Advocate that Jesus Himself. I spoke about this in my last message on Sunday and asked the Holy Spirit to guard my mouth and made a covenant to watch what I speak and when I do, to help me make it any of these three: To exhort, encourage, or edify. You give credit where it is due as well. What a humble, gracious comment and makes me think that God will honor your desire to watch our words.

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Lauren June 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm

hey! i am 13 and this is an enlightenment… if that is a word.
any way, i have never swore, BUT i do euphemize a ton. i shall now try to rethink what i will say. HONESTLY, a middle school bus, language-wise, is TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, AND THE BUS DRIVER DOES NOTHING. grrrrr…. please pray for myself, my friends, and the school buses. we need it. thanks,
~Lauren-13

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Jack Wellman June 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Lauren, I admire your courage to do the right thing. God bless you and I will pray for you. I would talk the the school superintendent about the bus driver and students language. There are policies against such language in most school districts.

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phishing4men August 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm

good stuff Jack, my dad called the euphemisms “minced oats” and forbid the use of them. That was many years ago and have never forgotten his instruction. God graced us with language to express gratitude to Him among other things and we have so defiled that gift. I was thinking recently wondering who came up with the phrase “God bless America”, it seems everything we do in America is about us, what we want, give us God, bless us God, we seem to have lost sight of our need to cry out to our nation to “America, bless God”. I reckon the problem lies in our unwillingness to humble ourselves, confess our sin and come back to Him and glorify Him as we were created to do. Not sure what it is going to take to awaken us.

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Jack Wellman August 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Thank you so much brother. I agree that your dad has much wisdom. Like I used to be a substitute teacher some years ago, I was still the teacher and so substitutes of vulgar language or slangs called euphemisms, are no different in my book. I still took away recess even as a substitute because the sub still had the same authority as the real homeroom teacher. Thanks brother.

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Damian August 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

I guess I’ll play “devil’s advocate,” here. Maybe it’s no coincidence that my name is “Damian.”

This is a subject that I’ve done a lot of research on, thinking about and praying about over the years and I ultimately concluded that swearing/cursing/cussing is not actually a sin. God is not really concerned with the specific words that we use when we speak. He is more concerned with the attitudes of our hearts and when those bad attitudes are expressed in ugly, nasty, hurtful, hateful words, it is the attitude with which God has the problem and not the words themselves (words are actually morally neutral things and depending on the cultural context can have radically different meanings). I can express horrible, selfish, wicked attitudes without using a single swear word and God would consider it evil. Likewise I can express good, loving and even godly sentiments by using “salty language.”

I am familiar, of course, with all of the passages that Christians love to point at to defend the “cleanliness” of their speech and I agree that on the surface (when interpreted through a lens that is already predisposed to have a problem with “bad language”) it looks like that’s what they’re saying, but when looked at in the actual historical context of their original writing, and with authorial intent as a priority, it becomes more clear that they are actually referring to something else. Generally I think they refer more to the substance of the ideas of my speech rather than the vocabulary. Is what I’m saying true? Is what I’m saying wise? It is not so concerned with whether what I am saying is “nice” or “clean.”

Also, the commandment against “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is a very popular weapon Christians use against uttering the phrase “Oh, my God,” or something comparable, but that is not in fact what that means and it never did. Again, when looked at in the historical setting of what God was doing with Israel at the time, I think it makes more sense to see it as a prohibition of the practice of claiming a certain deity as one’s own (“taking the Lord’s name”) and then not honoring that deity (“in vain”). In the case of Israel, it meant saying that Yahweh was their God but not keeping his commandments. It had more to do with the consistency of the claims we make with how we live our lives, not with whether we in any given situation find ourselves saying, “Oh, dear God!’

I used to be far more enmeshed in mainstream conservative Christian culture than I am now, so for a long time I was very saturated with the perspective that I needed to avoid certain words (and even the more “harmless” substitutions like “gosh” “golly” “jeez,” etc) and it positively tortured me because it put such extreme mental and emotional shackles on my attempts to simple express myself (and I had a lot of pious teachers/elders who were more than ready to jump up and point it out to me when I let one slip). I mean, I felt guilty even when I happened to think them in my mind, let alone when I said them out loud. That way of thinking (though I didn’t know it at the time as I was, paradoxically, very comfortable in my discomfort and ignorance) messed me up for years, but one of the most compelling arguments against my way of thinking was when I realized that Paul was far less concerned with using “dirty” words than he was with other things. In Philippians, when he discusses the inferiority of the “righteousness” of his former life, he basically says that he “counts it all as s**t.” Obviously for reasons of cultural and social acceptability translators don’t translate it that way. They tend to use “rubbish” or “refuse” or “dung” or “garbage” or “filth” (the word means literally “feces”), but s**t is actually the word that best captures the emotional thrust of what Paul is saying. Likewise, on those occasions when I do choose to use “swear words” in my life, I try to use them in the same way that Paul did (or even, quite frankly, Jesus did when he used such harsh, offensive and provocative language against the Pharisees): to proclaim something that’s true, wise or profound, to shock someone out of complacency who needs it, to indicate the seriousness of what I’m trying to communicate, etc. Sometimes swear words can actually serve a very useful function in the life of anyone (including a mature believer) and that’s why I could not possibly disagree more with the contention that it’s intrinsically a sin. It is most definitely not a sin… at least, not necessarily (it might be depending on the circumstances surrounding it, the intent behind, the attitude of the person doing it, etc).

But here’s the thing, whether I’m right and it’s not a sin or I’m wrong and it is, we as Christians need to be loving and forgiving of one another (as Paul said in Romans 12). Whichever of us is the “weaker brother” and whichever is the “stronger brother,” we should always be patient with the other and recognize that it’s actually okay that there be disagreement among us when it comes to certain superficial things like this. Like Paul said with regard to food sacrificed to idols, we may not agree on certain things (cursing, drinking, earrings, tattoos, Harry Potter, etc) but we should not let those things cause division within the body of Christ. It’s more important that we love one another than we exercise the God-given freedom that we have. We should be accepting of each other even in our differences. A faith can be immature and still be authentic.

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phishing4men August 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm

You say”God is not really concerned with the specific words that we use when we speak.” Why then would He give us the following instruction?
Mat 12:36 But I say unto you , That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment .
“I used to be far more enmeshed in mainstream conservative Christian culture than I am now, so for a long time I was very saturated with the perspective that I needed to avoid certain words (and even the more “harmless” substitutions like “gosh” “golly” “jeez,” etc) and it positively tortured me because it put such extreme mental and emotional shackles on my attempts to simple express myself (and I had a lot of pious teachers/elders who were more than ready to jump up and point it out to me when I let one slip). I mean, I felt guilty even when I happened to think them in my mind, let alone when I said them out loud.”
it positively tortured me because it put such extreme mental and emotional shackles on my attempts to simple express myself…..are you really so limited in your ability to express yourself that you were” positively tortured.” Just wondering do you still love those “pious elders and teachers? Of course by now you realize I too am one of those pious folk. Phl 4:8 ¶ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. l cannot seem to find Harry Potter, cursing, etc in this list. Just curious, do you still find the need to use “swearing cursing” to
express yourself as you share the love of God to the lost? Have you found freedom from the torture and guilt when you curse or think curses?
As you can see I am still enmeshed in what you describe as mainstream conservative Christian culture.
by grace alone
phishing4men

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Jack Wellman August 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I so agree with Phishing4Men. Why else would Jesus say that about every idle word as Phishing said…but what about “Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Do you really think it benefits others to use vulgar or swear word language? Yes, love is important, but Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments” and taking the Lord’s name in vain is one of them, right? Are you saying that it’s okay when Jesus, Paul, and the Commandments say not to do so? I would rather believe God than human opinion, sorry.

You are seriously mistaken saying Jesus and Paul used swear words. Can you show me Scripture and verse please? You also said swear words can actually benefit someone. In what way? What a shame on Christ if you are a Christian and talk like the world does. What kind of example for Him is that!?

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phishing4men August 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm

but we should not let those things cause division within the body of Christ.
Within the Church there are sheep and goats, wheat and tares and while I nor any man is to be the one to rip up the tares or run off the goats, there is coming a day when a separating will take place and I do need to warn offenders of that coming day lest they are plucked out and thrown into the eternal fire.
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Mat 13:25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.Mat 13:26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.Mat 13:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?Mat 13:28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?Mat 13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
I am thankful God has placed in my life brothers and sisters in Christ pastors and teachers that preach the Word and are willing to hold me accountable. Pro 27:5 Open rebuke [is] better than secret love….. just wondering have you ended your discussion with us? I pray you have not perceived us as judging you as if we were holier than thou, you are loved among those responsible for this site and accepted. I just disagree with you on this subject. Cursing will not send you or I to hell, while I do believe it will grieve Holy Spirit, and it may cause a weaker brother to stumble, or even cause lost people to name us as hypocrites which often is the pitiful excuse the lost use for not repenting and trusting Jesus. As you and I both know no excuse will hold back God’s wrath at judgement.
by grace alone
phishing4men

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phishing4men August 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm

but we should not let those things cause division within the body of Christ.
Within the Church there are sheep and goats, wheat and tares and while I nor any man is to be the one to rip up the tares or run off the goats, there is coming a day when a separating will take place and I do need to warn offenders of that coming day lest they are plucked out and thrown into the eternal fire.
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Mat 13:25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.Mat 13:26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.Mat 13:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?Mat 13:28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?Mat 13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
I am thankful God has placed in my life brothers and sisters in Christ pastors and teachers that preach the Word and are willing to hold me accountable. Pro 27:5 Open rebuke [is] better than secret love….. just wondering have you ended your discussion with us? I pray you have not perceived us as judging you as if we were holier than thou, you are loved among those responsible for this site and accepted. I just disagree with you on this subject. I just cannot get you out of my mind, I think alot about our conversation remembering you said “But here’s the thing, whether I’m right and it’s not a sin or I’m wrong and it is, we as Christians need to be loving and forgiving of one another (as Paul said in Romans 12)”I could not agree more with our need to be loving and forgiving of one another, but is there any doubt in your soul(mind,will,emotions)that you are wrong about cursing not being a sin? I only ask because of your statement quoted above.Years ago I preached on the streets of Houston, Tx and often we would encounter a group of folk called the “Children of God” founded by a man named David Moses if I remember correctly, and they would us all manner of cursing and what I consider evil gestures claiming it was to gain and audience to hear about their beliefs. I talk to more than one drunk, prostitute, drug addict and other folk that told me what a turn off it was for them to hear and see things from this group. They recalled memories of so called christians who had hurt them or betrayed them in one way or another and saw this group as part of the church, and were willing to admit this caused them to have ill will toward the church and Christians. While they had no problem gathering a crowd, they were often jeered and mocked by the street people that gathered. It was always a difficult challenge to get them to listen to the true gospel. Not sure what happened to that group but apparently their method didn’t work as I have not heard of them in years.
Cursing will not send you or I to hell as I am sure you agree, while I do believe it will grieve Holy Spirit, and it may cause a weaker brother to stumble, or even cause lost people to name us as hypocrites which often is the pitiful excuse the lost use for not repenting and trusting Jesus. As you and I both know no excuse will hold back God’s wrath at judgement.
by grace alone
phishing4men

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James December 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I think Damian’s comments whether accurate or not are refreshing in the sense he’s putting forth his honest opinion. Cuss words are not nearly as evil as Editing and Censureship. Perhaps The Holy Bible in the raw text prior to holier-than-thou translators would be the perfect defense for Damian.

My ‘opinion’ on words used in communication at times requires words that reflect the more exact translation in any given exchange. Even The Sermon on The Mount written from memory, unedited, would surely have added pages and pages to The New Testament.

Oh golly gee, are there not more immediate cleansing priorites for Christians than fretting over my use of dang it or darn it? It all make me want to really be expressive by spouting phrases like; oh my goodness, for Heaven’s Sake, or the admonition of Howard Beale in the movie, Network, “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

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Darla Dunn September 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

What words aren’t bad. Never thought that gee wiz was a bad word.

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Richard October 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Hi. I’ve always been confused about the true view of the bible about swearing. I’ve never come across anything in the bible that lists words as taboo. The bible only speaks of swearing as using words within a specific context. For example, the first verse you quoted: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. By that definition, telling something they are “f-ing awesome” is fine, as we using the “taboo” word as a way of expressing our feeling for someone in a good way. Telling someone they are “an f-ing a-hole” however, is what the bible would define as cursing (and it makes this definition clear many times). A simple term using polite english, like telling someone that they “are no better than a monkey”, is a perfectly good example of how the bible defines cursing (without a single taboo word). The problem I struggle with, is that people are so focused on the words we use, and not the context within which we use them. Everything I’ve found in the bible is very clear about the definition cursing, and never about the actual words use, unless they are words that use the Lords name in vain. Then on that, the concept of using euphemisms. This is the first time in my life I’ve though of the word gosh as a euphemism. Throughout my life, it was purely a word used for expression. You say if using gosh “God will not hold those guiltless who profane His name”. That’s all good and well, but again… context. In the context of my mind, gosh is an expression, in the context of your mind, it’s a euphemism. By that, it would be a sin for you to say gosh, but not for me.

The trouble I have is that people are so focused on the word used, without considering the context. For example, the old lady down the road would yell at me for swearing, even if that word was used in a way that was “helpful for building others up according to their needs”.

Sorry for the rant, but those are my views, and would love to hear some opinions of whether I am headed down the wrong path, and perhaps someone could explain to me why using certain taboo words (in a context that isn’t cursing).

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phishing4men March 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Maybe that “old lady” down the road is a weaker sister, would you be willing to curb your expressions so as not to offend a sister in Christ? Maybe she is unable to discern your context because the words you used offended her. Please understand I am not accusing you of anything wrong, however the term “the old lady down the road” could indicate ones lack of patience with old folk and thinking of oneself before considering her weakness. Maybe she just needs a younger person to show some respect and love for her.”Sorry for the rant,”, I realize, that when we get on a rant we get passionate and fail to express ourselves as we would have desired, as I to have been on many rants myself(as you can verify by many of my posts)and often need shoe polish with tooth paste added as I too often find my foot in my mouth. God speed in your search friend, how thankful I am for grace.

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Iamez January 2, 2013 at 1:32 am

Greetings to all
1 Corinthians 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God
Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God

Romans 14:1-13
1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

(MY God!) I will never be ashamed to call out loud to God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirt when I am afraid, angry, sad, lost, hurt, amazed ect. (Jesus Christ!) help me in this time. (For the Love of God!) dont be a tyrant. You are forgiven. I Leave you with Peace and Love. Go ye

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Damian March 5, 2013 at 5:29 am

Phishing4Men:

First of all, I appreciate your civil, respectful and kind responses. I had no idea my comments here could effect someone in such a way that they would, as you described, “not be able to get me out of their mind” or “pray that I did not perceive them as judging me.” Rest assured that your comment did not strike me as sanctimonious or “holier than thou” at all (although, truth be told, Mr. Wellman’s kind of did) and it’s totally fine that you disagree with me. Believe me, I’m accustomed to being disagreed with on this subject. If there is something else that I am supremely confident of, it is that we can be united in Christ while still disagreeing with each other about things. The fact is that I was done with the discussion for no reason other than I had simply forgotten about it over time, but (as a complete fluke one night) I happened upon it again because my brother-in-law and his wife had gotten into a conversation about swearing and I was searching for an article online to share with him. When I read the reactions to my comment, I thought I should respond.

You ask me if there is any doubt in my mind/will/soul/emotions that I am wrong about swearing. The truth is that no, there isn’t. The more I learn about how human language, speech and communication functions (and how it was intended BY GOD to function) in the light of the real priorities emphasized by the biblical authors (as opposed to the priorities emphasized by our contemporary Christian culture), the more I have realized that swearing is NOT a moral imperative. It just isn’t. I have become convinced that it was a cultural imperative that over time has transmogrified into a moral imperative, but it is not (in and of itself) a moral issue. Note that I say “in and of itself” because, as with all things, it could be a moral issue for a believer who has a more tender and sensitive conscience (what the Bible calls a “weaker” brother) or who merely comes from a particular set of circumstances. For them it could be a moral issue, but it is not a moral issue intrinsically. It’s like the meat sacrificed to idols that Paul talks about in I Corinthians. It’s not a moral issue but the kind of thing that we more “immature” Christians can easily make into a moral issue.

Now, am I saying that I couldn’t be wrong and that I won’t one day change my mind on this subject? No, of course not. That would be foolish of me, but I am going to have to be persuaded by something other than the types of tired tactics that Christians have usually taken with me on this issue: namely, where they simply trot out verses (always out of context) that talk about “our mouths” or “our tongues” and present them in such a way that it they are “without question” a condemnation of swearing or they will point to the verses that talk about how we’re supposed to be righteous and holy and essentially try to “guilt-trip” me into changing my view because naturally if I am swearing I am not being “holy” or “righteous.” That’s simply presenting “proof texts” with the attitude that what they personally are telling me has the authority of God himself (Mr. Welmman’s vaguely condescending assertion, for example, that he “would rather believe God than human opinion” is typical of the kind of pious declarations I would get from Christians in conversations like this). That’s just their interpretation of those texts and they may be right or not (Mr. Wellman is kidding himself if he thinks he doesn’t trust human opinion: he trusting HIS own opinion of what those verses mean), but when I was hit with those kind of “arguments” when I was younger, I just folded. Thankfully, after years of independent study as well as help from some of the wisest and most godly people I have ever met, I know a little more about the Bible than I used to. I know now that merely quoting a verse at me doesn’t make a person right any more than my quoting of a different verse at them makes me right. I am more than willing to hear someone’s argument against swearing, but it’s going to have to be thoughtful, coherent, rational and compelling (I am even willing to hear them use the Bible to support and defend it, but they’ll have to do more than just throw a bunch of passages at me; that just no longer impresses me). So far, I’ve yet to hear that argument.

Thanks for thinking of me. God bless. :)

James:

Thank you for your kind words. I agree that Christian culture’s intense focus on not swearing is often (though not always) excessively petty and myopic. It’s bad enough when they focus on “d*mn” or the “s-word” or the “f-word” but when it gets extended it to things like “gosh” or “golly” or “darn” or “heck,” it just becomes even crazier and more removed from reality. I had a teacher in high school who would throw a fit if I were to utter simply “What the–” when I was confused about something. I never said anything else. Just those two words (“what” and “the”). She was like the “word police.” It’s insane. It is the very embodiment “straining the gnat and swallowing the camel.”

Richard:

Mr. Wellman would almost certainly disagree with me on this, but I would concede that the Bible does not actually have a particular view on swearing. The Bible does have verses that talk about our “speech being edifying” or our “mouths being clean,” (and Christians who hate swearing love to wield those verses as evidence of their view) but those verses, like a lot of passages in the Bible, are in and of themselves very ambiguous as to what they really mean. Are they referring to the words themselves (i.e. the vocabulary) or are they referring to the content/substance (i.e. the ideas) of our speech. I would argue it is the latter. If I were to say, “my Pharisaical righteousness was nothing but bulls**t” (as Paul essentially does in Ephesians), is that declaration “filthier” than if I were to debase, degrade and insult a woman who walked by me on the street (“Hey, baby! Where you going? Nice body! I got something right here in my pants that I bet you would like!”) but never once use a swear word? I would say it is not. The second speech is far more ugly, nasty, crude, vulgar, base and filthy than the former because it’s the attitudes and meaning behind the words that makes it filthy, that makes it corrupt, that makes it impure. That is evil (plain and simple) and that, I would argue, is what the Bible is typically referring to when it talks about us guarding our mouths. It’s not about words. It’s about ideas and attitudes. Those are far more important and far more damaging. The problem is that those are also far harder to regulate. Attitudes and ideas are essentially “inner realities” that dwell in the heart and may (or may not) find expression in our outward gestures, actions and speech. It’s much easier to simply be on the lookout for a list of “bad words” than it is to monitor a person’s heart. I suspect that’s why Christians concern themselves with words so much. It’s quantifiable and it’s superficial. They tend to think that if you clean up your words (your outside) then your heart (your inside) will also get cleaned up. Jesus had a few words of his own to say about that way of doing things:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

P.S. Jesus himself had a few choice euphemisms for people he was disappointed in while he was here. Swearing, as we think of it today, didn’t exactly exist in ancient times (relatively speaking, it’s actually a fairly recent historical development) but some of the things Jesus said could, in a sense, qualify as swearing. For that time and culture, some of his words were pretty harsh, provocative, ugly, unpleasant, insulting and just generally not nice. He called people (particularly the Pharisees) things like “snakes” and “vipers” and “hypocrites” and “thieves” and “fools” and “dogs” and “sons of the devil.” (that last two would be like the equivalent of calling somebody a “b***h” or a “son-of-a-b***h” today). He even called Peter “Satan.” While perfectly righteous, I think some of Jesus’ own language would be very distasteful to Christians today.

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Iamez March 6, 2013 at 3:19 am

We all arrived at this lesson for the same reason to learn and grow. My quest was to prepare myself for the talk that my 5 year old and I were going to have based on why he was reprimanded at school for calling a friend (Dillweed). I knew why he said it. We had recently prepared a meal together (Dillweed) being an ingredient. We smelled it, We tasted it, We touched it. Everything was perfectly beautiful. Until 1 person put the evil into his word and in his mind. My friends until we come to a point when we no longer tell our children that something so good given to us from God can be destroyed and made evil by another mans heart the true message will always elude us even the elect.

Jesus abolished this and all the world. I thank God for Jesus and all that he has given me. I am still impressed with scriptures because they are Gods True Word and it will drive home the Truth better than any self imposed comment filled with words like “I think” and “I suspect”. No Sirs. I know because the Messiah told me so.

Now lets take this to a level that is sure to make one return to Bible for reproof and edification. It is either God or Satan. We are not sent to destroy the world or judge it. Do not call bad what my Father made good. Try this make yourself like a child forget what your dad told you about “euphemisms” and “minced oats”. Then ask yourselves how did (Dillweed) become a bad word.

After speaking with my sons teacher we discoverd that she had called the friend (peanut). “The little old lady offended herself”.

I love you all and thank you for your uplifting words. I am grown.
Praise be to God in Jesus name

P.s. Damien and phishing4men you are truly blessed with the gift of speech.

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Damian March 22, 2013 at 3:38 am

Thank you for the compliment, Iamez. I appreciate it. :)

Ironically, reading over my last comment, I realized that I mistakenly said it was Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where he made the provocative statement, but it was actually Phillippians. My bad.

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Patricia Schneider April 16, 2013 at 3:21 am

Hello, Pastor Jack!
Just spent the past 2 hours reading your article and all 23 comments. Whew~! To say I’m overwhelmed is an understatement!
My Mom raised my older sister, Millie & me to never use ‘bad’ swear words, and especially not using God’s Name in vain or in an argument. Yet, using euphemisms was permitted. Mom was very strict w/Millie & me…when we reached the ages 12/11 and no longer needed a babysitter, Mom had to KNOW we would obey her rules while she was at work. Yes, Mom was strict, but oh, soooo very loving, Pastor Jack! (I miss Mom something fiercely! She left for “Home” in 2009, to be in God’s Kingdom with Jesus & her family. Mom was the last to go among 6 siblings.)
Mom’s oldest brother, my Uncle Tom, was a real Irishman who worked on the railroads. Now HE used God’s & Jesus’ Names all the time in expressing himself! It offended me terribly, I remember as a little girl of 7/8 yr old, asking Uncle Tom to stop using God’s and Jesus’ Names like he did. He laughed, telling me God KNOWS he means nothing by that. Uncle Tom did believe Jesus was his Savior. After my son, Chris was born, he visited w/me & the baby while everyone else went out to dinner. We talked about EVERYTHING, Pastor Jack! Especially about Jesus…Uncle Tom’s love for Him was so evident through his words. I believe God has forgiven his ‘trespasses’ or ‘sins’ as we Christians boldly admit.

Hate to say this, Pastor Jack, but this is the FIRST ARTICLE you’ve written that I disagree with. The comments written by phish4men (August 18, 2012…”minced oats,”) Damian (August 22, 2012…”devil’s advocate,”) James (December 16, 2012,) and Richard (October 25, 2012…”in context that isn’t cursing”)…have to admit their words made such sense to me.

I prayed to Jesus’ Holy Spirit before reading your article and the following comments. And for guidance in answering you. I pray my words haven’t offended nor hurt you, Pastor Jack!
Love always in Christ, Jesus…Patty

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Jack Wellman April 16, 2013 at 10:01 am

Thanks Patty. You are not the first person to disagree that I believe cursing is sin but that’s okay. No offense. I believe that many think that “damn” is God’s last name….we don’t allow this in our home for we think it defiles the Holy Name of God. Take care.

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Patricia Schneiders April 16, 2013 at 10:25 am

Oh, Pastor Jack, SO relieved you’re not upset or angry with me. See you have a great sense of humor (already knew that,) what you said about some folks thinking “damn” being God’s last name?
Thank you for respecting me enough to not criticize or judge. Then you wouldn’t exactly be a GOOD CHRISTIAN now, would you? LOL! And I respect your opinions and beliefs, also. We’re all searching for TRUTH in God’s Word. Who knows, I may believe differently down the road of life?
Oodles of blessings for you, Pastor Jack, and your family!
Love always in Christ, Jesus…Patty

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Patricia Schneider April 16, 2013 at 10:26 am

Keep adding a S to last name! Typing skill stinks to high heaven today~!

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Pamela Rose Williams April 16, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Well we know you with or without the “S” Patty. Good to see you sis.

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Patricia Schneider April 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Hello, Pamela!
Appreciated your comment to Pastor Jack…”cheez-whiz?” Also, his response to you.
Did you happen to read my comment to Pastor Jack? Can you tell me what you think of it? He did respond he took “no offense.” Oh, Pamela, I pray not! Pastor Jack is so dear to me, has helped me tremendously in re-newing my desire to read earnestly God’s Word every day. I thank Dear God for Pastor Jack’s friendship (and yours, too, Pamela!) He’s a terrific brother-in-Christ to me!
Love in Christ, Jesus…Patty (with no S! LOL!)

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Anne May 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Hi Pastor Jack

What about ‘oh my word’ or ‘Oh heck’ ? Or ‘oh my goodness’ or ‘for goodness’ sake’? Okay, that last one sails a bit close to the wind I guess, and so would anything then with ‘goodness’ in.

It’s just so hard… I will just shake my head now, and say ‘unbelievable!’

Thank you for all the great articles. Wish I could live by all of them…

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Jack Wellman May 18, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Hello Anne…I would not worry about these so much as I would for those words substituted for God and for Jesus’ name if you know which ones I mean. I don’t think “goodness” or “heck” is anything to worry about. I am impressed that you are wanting to be sure. That is a sure sign of the Holy Spirit working in you Anne but truly, I don’t think these are a problem.

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Anne May 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Hi Pastor Jack

Thank you for your swift reply! It helps a lot.
May our gracious Lord keep all of you writers strong and healthy and filled with the Holy Spirit to continue this selfless work you are doing. You have no idea how addicted I am to this website!

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Jack Wellman May 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Hello Anne. Wow, you are too kind. I am glad we can be of help to believers in their walk with God in their lives. May God richly bless you in yours.

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Jon May 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm

This reply in mainly in response to the first paragraph.”Paul is clear about this in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This doesn’t explain whether swearing for things such as pain is acceptable as a word can surely only be offensive if used in a certain context such as being aimed at someone. “This would include telling dirty jokes, making off-color remarks, and making lewd or lascivious gestures. These are all considered sin by biblical standards. These are not gray areas.” Is all this information directly from the bible or just your interpretation, im interested to know which. Also “unwholesome talk” also surely includes calling people names or insulting them by calling them stupid etc so why aren’t words like idiot swear words? the word “shit” in itself can’t be counted as swearing as it is not aimed at anyone. Basically you can’t just define a word as being a curse word if it’s not being used in a certain context. Society over the years has passed down and changed what words are counted as swear words, the bible does not define what words are counted as swear words yet society follows the belief that words currently defined as swear words are bad, yet a lot of these words did not start out as swear words. I think it would make a lot more sense if Christians were against insulting people more than being against “swear words” as being insulted by hearing a word doesn’t make any sense unless it is aimed at someone e.g you. If someone was to decide that a new word was suddenly to be classed as a swear word (just as it was in history) then people would follow but that’s not right from a christian point of view surely unless God was to tell you this was the case. Basically the point of this reply is that for many years now i’ve been wandering why Christians are so against these “swear words” even if a person just mutters it to themselves or if it is in a film, people should only be offended by the use of a word in a certain context, you can’t just decide that a word is against God unless specifically pointed out by him, which is why i try not to say terms such as “oh my god” because they are obviously offensive as they are defined in the bible and the bible says you can’t use the lords name in vein. I hope people will come to understand swearing really isn’t that bad especially in circumstances of pain and sadness.

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phishing4men June 1, 2013 at 11:55 am

The world recognizes a foul mouth better than many who are in support of the freedom to use four letter words that are understood to be cursing. They view a person who claims to be a Christian as a hypocrite while believers are trying to see how close to the line they can walk without offending God. I am always amazed and often at myself when we try to justify our “respectable” sins. Why not shoot for purity of heart so that what comes out of our mouth will be edifying to others. You state: i’ve been wandering why Christians are so against these “swear words” even if a person just mutters it to themselves….wasn’t it the Israelites who were warned against i’ve been wandering why Christians are so against these “swear words” even if a person just mutters it to themselves…wasn’t it the Israelites who were warned about murmuring or muttering their complaints against God’s leading? I am sure you will not be convinced by this note but someone out their reading these posts could be moved to clean up their heart that what comes out of their mouths will encourage, edify others and honor a thrice holy God. You mentioned the word “shit”, I struggle with the idea that if I say oh shit god, that was a damn good blessing I recieved from you today and I want to friggen thank you, that He would be pleased. And I would suspect if I prayed that aloud in the most liberal church in town I would recieve some frowns, and if any number of lost people heard my prayer they would surely wonder what god I was praying to. I am honestly trying to understand how the four letter words we hear daily as we encounter people edify, encourage or please God, maybe one day I can come to see your point of view. Until then I seek to avoid further polluting others minds with a foul mouth. God speed Jon

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joneshowell June 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

To say “Gosh” is taking God’s name in vain is a stretch. This is legalistic. There is nothing in scripture which says such euphemism parallel irreverence. They may be vain, in the sense of useless, but it is not God’s name.

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Johnny June 5, 2013 at 12:34 am

I disagree. When it says to let no “unwholesome thing” come out of your mouth that does not imply that we should never use curse words simply because they are curse words… it means, as it says, that we should not let unwholesome things come out of our mouths. Words, especially “curse” words, can mean many different things in many different situations and contexts. From my experience, the most common use of curse words amounts to little more than playful banter between people. When curse words are used in this way I wouldn’t say that the people using them are being unwholesome.

The meaning of words depends on so many different factors. When a person says “darn it,” it usually means the same thing as “damn it” which, in most contexts, means the same thing as “ohhh bummer.” For example, say you’re backing out of a parking space and you smash into someone else who is driving by. I highly doubt any christian would have a problem with you saying “ohh bummer” but the second that turns into “damn it” it’s a huge deal. This makes no sense.

That said, I do think we need to be mindful of our context when using certain words. If you are using words that are going to offend someone then you shouldn’t use them.

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Matt July 9, 2013 at 5:57 am

I was having an online discussion with some Christian rock fans and there was a certain Christian singer who used the f word on their album. I became the unpopular one who said it was sin. I certainly have used the word before but it’s not a holy word and I do regret when I use it. It’s not what Christ and the Bible calls us to as Christians. I said that profanity is the opposite of holiness. God declared sex and our bodies to be holy and many if not all of these cuss words pervert sex or references to the body or to God.

What bothers me is when Christians try to tell me that I need to read the Greek to understand that profanity is a sin or that a writer of the Bible used profanity in the book of the Bible he wrote. I think that’s ridiculous because what Paul teaches is written to people from a church. I’m not saying that reading the Bible in Greek cannot be illuminating or very helpful, but I don’t it’s always necessary when the English translation is quite clear.

One of the best parts of the above article was the section about euphemism. That really gets at the essence of the meaning behind the words. Gosh and gosh darnit are words that are substituted for words that take God’s name in vain. The word “crap” is probably not something we should be saying either. Christians try to say it’s not same if you don’t say the actual word, which is a justification for all sorts of immoral behavior. Suddenly they take what the Bible says as a matter of opinion and that one person’s sin is not another person’s sin.

I think as Christians we can also be guilty of taking God’s name in vain when we refer to him as “the man upstairs” or say, “Praise the Lord” as though it has little or no meaning. There is such an overemphasis on grace in the church that people forget that sin is wrong and is still offensive to the Lord regardless of grace. I think many Christians are too focused on fitting into the world that they fail to understand if you talk or live just like the people of the world you are lacking in salt and light in your witness. It’s not that anyone is perfect or can be perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to talk like that.

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Jack Wellman July 9, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Matt, thank you so much. What you have written add so very, very much to this article and you said it so much better than I did. I so love what you said that we casually refer to God and His Holy Name is ways that are disrespectful. You are spot on my friend. I wish I had thought of that. Even “the man up stairs” and “Praise the Lord” are using it vainly (or by an empty, useless or casual way). The Jews were so afraid to say God’s name in the wrong way that they didn’t ever say it! They trembled as His Name and I respect the Jews for that. As for our society I hear “O M G” so much and it just irritates me to no end. His Name is so Holy, we ought to tremble, not only at His Word, the Bible, but at His Most Holy and High Name. Thanks Matt. Good stuff brother.

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Candace January 16, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I am trying to present my church kids with a challenge but first I have to have the answers to the questions… are there any examples of people using Gods name in vain in the bible?

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Jack Wellman January 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Thank you Candace. I know of at least one example and it was Peter who in denying that he knew Jesus so fiercely that “he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed” (Matt 26:74).

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Candace January 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I never would have thought of that, but it seems so obvious now. I may have to give a hint to that one, thank you so much. God bless

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Jack Wellman January 16, 2014 at 2:08 pm

My good pleasure friend.

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Arnold March 10, 2014 at 8:35 am

My mother, who loves God just as much as an average Christian, firmly believes that Euphemisms is a harmless thing, she never says “Oh my God” anymore, but now she’s went down to “Oh my gosh”.. how do you think can I do to stop her from doing it? It makes me worry sometimes.

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Jack Wellman March 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Arnold, ask your mother to look up the word euphemism in the dictionary. You cannot make her stop, only God can by the power of the Holy Spirit but it is blasphemy nonetheless and no blasphemer, the Bible says, will be held guiltless in the Judgment. Is your mom a church attender? Is she saved? Have her ask the pastor? Have you asked the pastor about this? Have her read Philippians 4:8 and it says in Eph 4:29 says “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Oh my God and oh my gosh mean the same thing so you are right but it must be God who convicts her of this sin…otherwise, tell her about this article, have her ask her pastor, and then read these verses and then leave it alone because if you keep bringing it up with her sir, it will not serve a good purpose but make her only more stubborn. Is she saved? Does she say this in her church…that is if she does have a church home.

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