January 16, 2018

Christian Swearing

George Stiekes

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good TO THE USE OF EDIFYING, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

Have you ever looked up the origins of some of the expressions that many Christians (perhaps you) use all the time?

Here are a few examples:

  • Gee – or Gheeze – Americanism; euphemism for Jesus.
  • Gosh – exclamation of mild surprise or wonder; euphemistic for God. Usually, some believers will say, “Oh my gosh! instead of “Oh my God.” [And let’s not forget the ubiquitous OMG! – ed.]
  • Heck – mild exclamation of surprise, irritation; euphemistic for Hell.
  • Darn – to curse; a euphemistic word for damn.
  • Gosh – a mild oath expressing surprise; euphemism for God.

In the past, these and other words were called “minced oaths,” which is defined as euphemistic expression, mispronouncing or replacing a part of a profane, blasphemous, or taboo term to reduce the original term’s objectionable characteristics.

We all know that it is wrong for a Christian to swear. Some reading this may think, “Now he’s gone to meddling!” Actually not for God’s Word clearly states that our speech ought to be “sound, that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8). Our text is dealing with unwholesome talk because it does not edify the believer. There is far more that could be included other than just these euphemisms – off-color remarks, lewd or lascivious words or gestures, dirty or suggestive jokes and even calling others names. Using euphemisms are actually sin, since they are substitutes for the same words the world uses when swearing. Some would say that it might be a “respectable sin,” but respectable or not, sin is sin.

Instead of justifying this sin, it seems more logical as believers that we would consider how God looks at it. Is it not just another way of taking God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7)? God would definitely hear it as a substitution for His name. Jesus said, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36). God expects us to control or place a tight rein on our tongues (James 1:26; 3:1-12).

Deuteronomy 5:11 states, Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. The words “in vain” can refer to evil or destructive speech, useless speech and false speech.

Jesus said: …out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matthew 12:34). What is in the heart will manifest itself outwardly. Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from trouble (Proverbs 21:23).

Have you given much thought to this matter personally? Do your words always manifest grace? Do they exhort, encourage and edify? Do not lightly pass this off. In fact, read through the Proverbs and see how often the Holy Spirit calls attention to what comes out of our mouths. Paul instructs us, Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Colossians 4:6).

George Stiekes held successful pastorates in churches in Michigan and Washington among other places. He currently resides in North Carolina and blogs at Reverent Reflections. We recommend his ministry and republish his material by permission.

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