Friday, April 27, 2012

Why is profanity unacceptable for the Christian?


A few weeks ago, I asked the question of what you do when you hear foul language. There were some great comments, and everyone agreed that we should be polite. One poor commenter has even had to endure bad language from restaurant management!

Inherent in that question, though, is the assumption that profanity is wrong.

But is it? I remember, as a young child, trying out all the bad words I could remember hearing, just to see how they sounded coming out of my mouth. Even as I was telling myself that there was no harm because they were just words, I was cringing inside. Somehow, somewhere deep down, I knew they were wrong.

Why? What makes them wrong?

First, words are sacred. God spoke the earth and all that it contains, including man and woman, into existence. In fact, Jesus Himself is The Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Second, empty words contribute nothing. I learned as a child that the use of profanity demonstrates a lack of something substantive to say.

Third, God forbids it. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8)

In a blog-comment-conversation-and-debate yesterday (on the blog of a literary agent) about whether or not profanity was appropriate in Christian books, one commenter argued that the Bible is filled with violent images and wicked acts, but the message remains clear throughout. I completely agree. But God does all that without profanity. If He can communicate clearly without the use of foul language, why shouldn’t we?

What do you think? Do you have any other reasons for why Christians should not use profanity?

~Meghan

You may want to finish the series with Is asterisk substitution for profanity all right?

~~~~~
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18 comments:

  1. Words are powerful. Words are often imitated by those who are under our example. I think you pretty much covered it. :-)
    Growing up in a Christian day school and Christian home with parents who did not even allow the use of slang words, I have always been very sensitive to foul language. If it is in any media, I am immediately repulsed.
    When I was taking classes for my M.A., one of the books I was assigned was full of cursing, and I questioned the professor on his use of the book. He responded that anyone who was going into counseling needed to know what to expect in the reality of the field. I understood his perspective, but it was still difficult for me to wade through. Unfortunately, among average American youth today, it is seen as some kind of status symbol to use foul language. It makes me sad to see Christian kids feel so pressured to use words that are similar just to fit in.

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    1. Stephanie, you would not believe what my husband has had to tolerate in a Ph.D. program for health informatics / computer science! Even if they don't have faith, at least they ought to have professionalism. It truly is grievous what has become so acceptable, expected even. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Thanks Meghan, YEA! I am excited. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and I will see you Sunday!

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  3. Swearing and cursing reveals a man's (or woman's) heart. Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. It is uncharacteristic for a Christian to have both praises, and curses coming out of their mouths. How can we praise God one moment and then turn around and curse our neighbors out of the same mouth?! Our speech indicates what is in our hearts.

    The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
    Luke 6:45

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    1. I thought of that one as well, Sarah, but wanted to keep the post short. Thanks for adding it in to the conversation!

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  5. Ditto to all that has been said!

    When I hear someone speaking, and they use a lot of foul language, I have to wonder what is going on with them. Are they angry or hurt, trying to be cool, don't know any better, doing their best to shock?
    Do they know it may limit opportunities for growth and advancement in life?

    A sad state of affairs, to be sure.

    It's up to each of us moms to do the best we know how with our children, and model behavior that is positive, good, and true to what we know is the right path.

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    1. Excellent points, Kim! Thanks for commenting.

      However --- does it really limit opportunities for growth and advancement? (I'm assuming you mean professionally.) It should, yet profanity seems to be accepted even within the workplace...even within universities.

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  6. The verses you quoted really sum it up. What else does a Christian need to be convinced??

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    1. Elizabeth -- LOVE the name of your blog! We are asked that all the time, and we only have six! Thanks for leaving a comment.

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  7. My grandfather always said that profanity was the sign of a small mind--that anyone who couldn't come up with a better way of expressing himself obviously wasn't very intelligent. And yet, it's (may I just confess) a nasty habit I struggle with.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cassi. I appreciate your honesty.

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  8. Wonderful post Meghan! Brings to my mind James 3:10 "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."

    Thanks for linking up! :)

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    1. Thanks, Ashlyn, for the comment and the opportunity for linking up!

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  9. I've never heard of Christians defending the use of profanity it their books. Can't you just get around using the actual word by saying, "so and so swore" I think it's just laziness on an authors part if they can't get around profanity.

    In our house I don't even allow our kids to say darn or dang because they sound to close to the real thing. Our frustration word of choice is "fiddlesticks!"

    Hope you'll be back to link up again Tuesday at lessonsfromivy.com

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    1. I've been working on a post about profanity substitutes, but it is so prevalent that I haven't had the courage to post it yet. *sigh* Soon, though, I think! Thanks for commenting, and thanks for the link-up opportunity.

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  10. Hi, just found your beautiful blog and will enjoy coming back. About the swearing, I totally agree and i have to tell those of my students who do that their swearing is offensive. Blessings

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    1. So glad to have you here, Nicky. Many blessings to you!

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I so much appreciate your time and effort in leaving a comment, and I try to respond to as many as time permits. :-)