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Christians Can’t Swear

Should Christians be justifying the use of coarse language? Can Christians swear?(Last Updated On: September 30, 2015)

“I love Jesus, but I still swear sometimes,” she said. Somehow hearing that out loud didn’t sit well with me.

I mean the Bible says not to take the Lord’s name in vain, but there isn’t a list of forbidden words. Who says what is okay and what isn’t? Who says Christians can’t swear?

The Holy Spirit convicted me on this point. Confronting my own mouth, I felt compelled to do some digging around in the scriptures. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Christians can’t swear. Should Christians be justifying the use of coarse language? Can Christians swear?

Here are the proof texts I found to hold myself accountable.

First, the importance of ALL of our speech in our witness as believers, even more so as teachers of the word.

James 1:26 ESV  “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

We can look at this text in two ways. As receivers of truth from pastors and speakers, if we hear someone who is not bridling his/her tongue, we have to treat anything else they say as mightily suspect. James says their religion is worthless. Secondly, as a Christian who is attempting to live my faith with a mission mindset, I do not want my witness to be worthless.

We are to exhibit self-control over our mouths. If we cannot, we have not been sufficiently sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Bridling our tongues would mean keeping our words from being angry, inappropriate, knowing when to be silent, in addition to not “swearing.”

Ephesians 4:29 ESV   “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.”

While some would focus on defining corrupting talk, I see the second part of the verse as being the more crucial. Only say what is good for building others up that gives grace to those that hear you. Well, that is a pretty high standard which doesn’t leave much room for a lot of things that come out of our mouths. And then start talking defining corrupting talk .  .  .

Each generation or culture has different words we consider inappropriate. Perhaps this is why the Bible didn’t give us a list. We have to examine our own hearts and culture to find our own convictions about what words we choose not to use.

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

No foolish talk. No crude joking. No filthiness. Well, that is pretty broad, but I don’t think Jesus wants us to split hairs when it comes to sin.

Is crap okay? What about OMG? shoot? freakin’? darn it?

Maybe, we wouldn’t say God’s name in vain or the swear word, but is it okay to hint toward those words? I struggle with geez. Today, I realize that is a way of shortening ‘Jesus’. As a young woman, I didn’t have any idea that is what it meant. I feel very convicted about even using theses lesser words but am definitely a work in progress.

Lastly, these two scripture really hit home for me in many arenas of my walk, especially when people start arguing that we can use this word or that word.

Romans 13:14 ESV “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

Make no provision for the flesh.

Our weaknesses and needs as human cannot be discounted, which is why Jesus came. He could say He wore our mantle and was tested, so we could know He understands the needs of our human bodies and the temptations of our fallen world, but as He was sinless, we’re instructed not to give any room to those sinful temptations.

One last verse, out of hundreds that I’ve found is one that I think I am going to hold onto and memorize.

Matthew 12:36-37 ESV “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.”

This verse makes me want to fall on my face at the foot of the King. I can barely account for the careless words I’ve spoken today. As a parent struggling with patience, I cannot even imagine the careless words I’ve spoken since my children came into my life. I can only pray in thanksgiving that God has convicted me and in humility asking forgiveness.

Anyone CAN swear, but God calls His children to something more.

43 thoughts on “Christians Can’t Swear

  1. Interesting thoughts to think about. I love how you put in the bible verses!

  2. Great post Jennifer. When we were growing up, an elderly christian woman cautioned us of the dangers of singing the popular boyz to men song “I swear”. We thought she was making such a big deal. After all was it not just a song? Now i understand her concerns. Like the bible says, let your yes be yes and your no be no. Thanks for this reminder.

    1. Sometimes things are not as innocent as they seem.

  3. I’ve found this creeping into the church little by little. Just reading Facebooks shocks me when it comes to the language. Even pastors are using words that don’t glorify God. These points are so good. Urges me to be more careful.

    1. Yes. Good reminder for myself as well.

  4. This is a great post and I agree! Even applies to gossiping ect. I often think of Eph. 4:29

  5. I have been convicted when I use phrases like OMG recently. Especially now that my little ones are like sponges and pick up every single thing I say! Good reminder to hold our speech accountable to our beliefs and to remember we are glorifying God with our words too.

    1. I’ve really felt like I need to drop that one for awhile, but struggle with not thinking the worst words when stuff happens.

  6. There’s another verse that says how can you praise God with your mouth and at the same time use that same mouth to revile and curse. This is a great post and yes, filled with truth!

    1. There are so many good verses about how we talk. I just don’t understand people who try to justify coarse language.

  7. Give grace to those who hear us…I like that! Remembering this line is a good way for me to decide if what I’m about to say should actually be said. I swear sometimes, and I’m a Christian, but that’s not something I would want to put on a banner and carry around with me. It’s certainly something to work on eliminating from my language.

    1. Me too. There is a difference between actively working on cleaning up our language and holding fast to sinful language. Makes me also remember that we are to be not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind through closer fellowship with Christ.

  8. I thank you for sharing the truth. Whether we slip when we lose our temper is one thing, it should never feel acceptable to swear. Swearing is cursing, which God specifically tells us not to do. He also says, “death and life are in the tongue, and you shall eat the fruit there of.” Swearing/cursing speaks death over us. Moreover, Colossians tells is we should speak to one another in admonition, praises, and hymns – and that salt and fresh water can’t come from the same spring (James – referring to our words!). Biblical evidence tells us we are NOT to cuss and instead of approaching bad language with a “oh well, Grace covers me” we should instead pray and ask God what’s going on at the root of our hearts that is causing us to speak that way.

    1. Yes, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

  9. What I love about walking with God is that He looks at our heart and judges us based on our intentions, what we know and truly understand.

    1. And He is always waiting for us to turn toward His way.

  10. I agree with you, though I think there is a difference between using swear words as a regular part of your speech, and slipping up and letting one out when you are frustrated or mad. I think the former example does not give a great witness. With the latter, if it happens in front of the kids, there’s an opportunity to talk about it – grace, how better to express our emotions, what is/isn’t appropriate, etc.

    1. Yes! Slipping up and demonstrating humility and asking for forgiveness have been powerful examples in my family. Just goes to show God can use even our weaknesses when we turn them over to him.

  11. There’s a difference I believe between a habit of using profanity and for it to come out on occasion. Above all else there should be grace. God loves each of us and he’s molding those of us who believe in Jesus. It’s a daily process and I truly believe that God works in each person at varying levels in different seasons of life.

    I guess I’m reminded and challenged by Phil. 4:8…
    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

    Very thought provoking article. Thank you!

    1. Absolutely. I was really feeling upset about people who use profanity regularly and don’t realize how it destroys their witness. When I’m standing in front of God, I don’t want to argue about the words I used, just whether or not I was a good and faithful servant.

  12. Thankfully I’ve never had this problem, but I can’t say I don’t plenty of other issues God’s dealing with me with at the moment.

    1. God finds our weak spots doesn’t he.

  13. Thanks for this. We need to be speaking highly of the Lord and I don’t think we can do that with cussing and such.

    1. Guarding our witness has to be our number one priority. We’re trying to represent the holiest of Holies.

  14. This is pretty provocative. I agree that as Christians we shouldn’t swear. I know we also mess up and do it anyway sometimes (like when a deer runs out in front of you or you smash a finger) and the s-word slips out. But we feel bad and ask for forgiveness after. I really don’t think ANYbody should swear. We have a beautiful language full of so many better words to use than swear words. 🙂

    1. I agree. We all slip from time to time, but shouldn’t use coarse language as a habit.

  15. Very interesting post. I have found that since becoming a parent I am doing better at managing my tongue.

    1. Oh yes! Those little ears are very convicting

    2. Me too Brandi! I am normally not a person to curse but my children are a great reminder that I am an example to others.

  16. i think the whole point is that all of us Christians have our off moments with the tongue (I know I have) – the thing is that we need God’s word to remind us and to bring us back to the center of His will…

  17. I love this! This is something that has been really hard for me. I don’t cuss intentionally and certainly not regularly. But I will admit I have my moments and like you I get convicted every time.
    Thank God for grace!

    1. We all do! It is heeding that conviction that is important.

  18. Here’s a good commentary on what I am trying to get at:

    “God will be helping each non-Christian understand why he or she is going to hell. But Christians will not be judged for there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (NASB) Romans 8;1”

    1. This verse actually makes a good point that people who are happily wallowing in their linguistic sin might not be listening to God’s convictions. God can be in the process of drawing them, but they certainly aren’t good witnesses and might be causing others to stumble.

      1. Agree with you that there is a big difference between a person who considers themselves a Christian but has no conviction from the Holy Spirit when they sin and a person who is a Christian and when they sin, they have immediate conviction and ask God for forgiveness. I think therein lies the tell tale sign of whether one is truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit 🙂

        1. Exactly! Good point.

  19. So you are saying that people whose emotions get the better of them sometimes and lash out with inappropriate words aren’t Christians? I’d be very careful making that judgment and deciding a person’s eternal fate based upon something they say. Because if that is the case, then I am damned to hell for cussing. That’s not Biblical.

    There is a difference between being a Christian and being completely sanctified and ALWAYS bridling the tongue – such a person would almost be in danger of calling themselves sinless and yet the Bible is clear that if anyone says they are without sin they make God a liar.

    Sanctification is a process; becoming a Christian is about faith in Christ. In addition, Peter swore when he said he didn’t know the Lord – does that mean that he’s a done deal and not a “real” believer? I don’t think so!

    Of course, we, as Christians, are supposed to have self- control but the reality is that we don’t always exhibit that – it doesn’t make us any less saved. It does quench the Spirit but that doesn’t mean we have lost our salvation. Does it?

    1. I didn’t make that judgment. I meant we cannot justify using those words. Of course we all slip and sin, and our salvation is between us and God, but I certainly believe there is something amiss if we are claiming Christ and using the F word, etc.

      1. I am in complete agreement with you that it is not acceptable to use such words. My only difficulty with the article was that you titled it Christians CAN’T swear. It probably should have been titled Christians SHOULDN’T swear. 🙂 We all fall and struggle in different areas (besetting sins).

        1. I hear where you’re coming from. I had a paragraph on that focus that I didn’t like. Maybe I should re-add it.

  20. I want to preface the rest of this comment with “I am not perfect.” I don’t swear. I occasionally – when things are going extremely bad – offer up a “sissy cuss word” (that’s what some houseparents I worked with called words like crap, OMG, darn, etc.). Where I need help taming my tongue is reigning in my thoughts and controlling my temper. I really enjoyed this post and it’s something all people who profess Christ need to read.

    1. It wasn’t an easy post and I forgot to address concerns about judging someone else’s salvation, which I was not doing. I just hear so many people making provisions for our sins instead of striving to meet Christ’s perfect example.

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