Too many Christians have potty mouths. WAY too many. The number of Christians I know who curse with regularity and apparent unashamedness astonishes me. I’ve been guilty of it in the past. You probably have too. Maybe you’re the kind of Christian that could hang out with sailors and keep up with the best of them. Maybe you’re the kind of Christian that fits right in with locker room talk or back of the bus conversation, if you consider such obscenity to be actual conversation.
Christians need to stop swearing. It is as simple as that.
Do we have tremendous freedom in Christ concerning language? Of course. Should we verbally condemn non Christians for using foul language? Probably not. But generally speaking, this issue doesn’t need a huge theological explanation and it doesn’t need any more explanation than the Bible itself gives. Scripture speaks a surprisingly great amount about the words that come out of our mouths (Click here for a fairly complete list).
Based on these Scriptures, here are 10 compelling and Biblical reasons for Christians to just plain stop swearing.
1. Our words are powerful. (James 3:8)
Our words wield great power. The famous saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword” is Biblically true. James compares our words to the bit in a horse’s mouth and the rudder of a ship – both seemingly small things that can change the entire direction of something larger. Our lives will be steered and directed by the way we use our words. Just like every gift or ability that God has entrusted to us, we ought to use our powerful words in a way that pleases God.
2. Freshwater springs don’t pour out saltwater. (James 3:11-13)
As Christians who have been washed clean by the blood of Christ, we have had the water of our hearts purified. Therefore, it shouldn’t be in our nature to spew nasty saltwater like we did prior to encountering Christ. Christians ought to pour out and exude pure, clean, and fresh words – not filthy, stagnant, useless saltwater. Our words ought to produce life in others, like freshwater, not dehydrate and sicken people like saltwater.
3. The religion of people who refuse to bridle their tongue is worthless (James 1:26)
True Christianity is one that lives out the commands and word of God. We have been commanded to be self-controlled and use our words wisely. We have been commanded to put away all filthy talk and actions from our lives now that we are in Christ. James boldly declares that Christians who refuse to bridle their tongues have deceived their own hearts, and their religion is worthless.
4. Our words should give grace and build up, not corrupt others. (Ephesians 4:29)
In his instructions for how to live a new life in Christ, Paul includes verse 29. Just two verses earlier he said, “Give no opportunity to the devil.” Christians are called to use their words differently than they did before they were Christians. If you use the same kind of language as non-believers do or as you did prior to being in Christ, you are giving opportunity to the devil, corrupting the hearts and minds of yourself and those around you, and withholding the blessing, grace, and upbuilding that comes from Godly speech.
5. We will give an account for every careless word we speak on judgment day (Matthew 12:36-37)
In the context of “a tree is known by its fruit”, Jesus uses language as a prime example of how our external behavior reveals the content of our hearts. He then warns us that on judgment day, each one of us will give an account for every careless word we speak. He also says, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Swearing and crude speech isn’t meaningless to God. It is blatant sin and you will give an account for every nasty word you have ever spoken on judgment day.
6. When we swear and curse with the same mouth we praise God and bless others with, we become hypocrites. (James 3:10)
Hypocrisy (putting on a show of religion and holiness without actually living like it) is one of the primary sins of Christian people and always has been. To sing in church and read God’s word on a Sunday only to go home or on social media and start dropping swear words without hesitation is the definition of hypocrisy. If this is you, every time you swear you are revealing just how little you value God and his desire that his people live holy lives and speak holy words.
7. God considers swearing and crude joking filthy, out of place, and foolish (Ephesians 5:4)
A little swear here and a crude joke there may not seem like a big deal, but Christians ought to consider it a big deal that God sees such things as filthy, out of place, and foolish. If we really love God and want to please him with our words, we will eradicate such speech from our lives.
8. Crude words reveal what is really in our hearts, despite the religious show we put on. (Luke 6:45)
Our words reveal our hearts. We can be hypocrites all we want and put on a religious show of holiness and morality on Sundays at church, but the language we use shows us the true content of our hearts, “For out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.” Our words are the overflow of the content of our hearts and minds. If our speech is dominated by filthiness, so are our hearts.
9. We are ambassadors of Christ and his kingdom. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Christians represent God and his kingdom to the world. Paul says that Christians are the means by which God makes his appeal to the world. If we represent Christ, we better live in such a way that accurately represents his heart and mind. Filthy talk does the opposite. Filthy language spewed from the mouth of a Christian will tarnish God’s name among unbelievers. There ought to be nothing more important in the life, heart, and mind of a believer than to accurately represent God to the world through words.
10. God says very clearly not to. (List of verses)
In summary, it is one of God’s simplest and plainest commands. If we claim Christ as our King, then we must obey him, which includes learning to control our tongues. Though it is difficult, all things are possible with God. So stop cursing, for all the reasons above, but mostly because God said to.