Cussing, Swearing, & Profanity; A
Matter of Opinion?
Timothy S. Morton
"Words Mean Things"
"For by thy
words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Needless to say, the Bible says a lot about words. It was with words
God spoke creation into existence [Gen. 1:3], with
words God revealed His will to man [Ex. 20:1], and with words Christ revealed the truths of eternal life
making salvation available to mankind [John 6:63, John 6:68]. Words are the primary means
of communication between men and to men. So much so that the Lord Jesus
Christ is referred to as the "Word" [John 1:1]. He was God's means of
communicating to man. It is with words man can communicate back to God
with prayer. However, man often uses words for a much less noble cause.
The Bible refers to them as "vain words" [Eph. 5:6], "lying words" [Jer. 29:23], "corrupt words" [Dan. 2:9], "enticing words" [1Cor. 2:4], etc. But whether noble or
vain, "words mean things."
It does not take much imagination for one to believe that society in
the 21st century is one of the vilest, vulgarest, and most profane in
history. With the ease of communication today by radio, television,
telephone, and Internet, vulgarity and profanity seems to multiply and
abound. The mentality of most Americans and others is so warped and
jaded that they believe they must be vulgar and profane to communicate
the simplest idea.
Who among you that works in the world, shops in the world, or merely
deals with people of the world does not hear obscene and profane words
an a regular basis? One cannot go to a supposedly benign place such as
mall, shopping center, or grocery store without being exposed to
vulgarities from young "cursed children" [2Pet. 2:14] to crusty, vile seniors. If
one ventures to a more worldly gathering such as a ballgame [especially
high-school or college], most "music" concerts, or Nascar [or any
other] race, then he exposes himself to such an onslaught of profane,
obscene, vain, and vulgar words and behavior that a dozen Catholic
"cardinals" with "holy water" couldn't clean him up in a week. However,
what should one expect from the world? Should we expect them to behave
other than their nature requires them?
Christians, though, have a new nature that desires to speak "sound
words" [2Tim. 1:13] "wholesome words" [1Tim. 6:3], comforting words [1Thes. 4:18]. Although this nature may
also use words to "reprove, " "rebuke, " [2Tim. 4:2] or correct, it never uses
truly profane or obscene words and never speaks about the Lord in vain.
However, all believers some of the time and most believers most of the
time do not allow their new nature to control them in their speech.
They often get caught up in vain, meaningless talk and many, more than
will admit, regularly cuss and swear.
Any type of cussing, swearing, "off-color" speech, or profanity brings
harm to the cause of Christ. The world sometimes knows how a Christian
is to behave more than some Christians. I don't believe your author has
ever encountered a lost worldling who thought it was proper for a
Christian to cuss. As soon as a believer does and a lost person knows
it, unless the believer sincerely and openly asks apologizes, he will
not have a chance winning that lost person to Christ. The lost person
will simply write the believer off as another hypocrite.
Over 20 years ago your author worked at a sawmill here in the hills,
and as one can imagine some of the characters who worked there were
pretty rough and "uncouth." The "lifestyle" of some of them was vile
and destructive and along with that there was little restraint in their
"speech." The day I started to work my boss was telling me about some
of the people who worked there and mentioned one fellow they called
"preacher." I had only been saved for a year or so and relished at the
thought of another believer working there. However, my boss continued,
"...but he is not much of a preacher because he cusses all the time." I
soon learned that this "preacher, " who had "Rev." written on his
hardhat, was a joke to the others. They mocked him as a hypocrite. Once
the equipment he ran fouled while I was near and I heard first hand one
of his cussing fits. If this fellow was a true believer [there is
plenty of room for doubt] he was a disgrace to the cause of Christ. He
had absolutely no respect from anyone.
This day and age society is so jaded and perverse that if a person
doesn't cuss or swear he is looked on as an oddity. But the plus side
is he is often also respected. Your author has made it a point ever
since he has been a Christian not to use any type of profanity or
cussing, and the Lord has enabled him to do that for around 25 years.
Not one person he has worked with can truthfully say they have heard
him cuss. This is not to say the Devil has not on many occasions placed
profane words in his thoughts, only that they have not come out of his
mouth [Matt. 15:11].
You author has also found that once others realize he doesn't join with
them in their profanity, many of them restrain themselves in using it
around him. Some even ask him, "Does my cussin' offend you" and then
promise to stop using it around him when he tells them he would rather
not hear it. Where he works now he even overheard two fellow workers who didn't know he
was around "discussing" a broken piece of equipment that took
considerable effort to repair, "This is enough to make Tim cuss" one
said to the other. It wasn't, and I didn't, but I took it as a
complement. Believer, what you say and don't say more than anything
else affect how others think of you and treat you.
Are The Terms?
Before we go further lets look at some terms. What does it mean to
"cuss, " "swear, " and be "profane." The definitions below are from
Websters 1828 dictionary except where noted. First look at "swear, "
SWEAR, v.i. pret.
swore. [Eng. veer; L. assevero.]
An "oath" is much the same,
1. To affirm or utter a solemn declaration, with an appeal to God for
the truth of what is affirmed.
4. To be profane; to practice profaneness.
To be "profane" means,
A solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the
truth of what is affirmed. The appeal to God in an oath, implies that
the person imprecates his vengeance and renounces his favor if the
declaration is false, or if the declaration is a promise, the person
invokes the vengeance of God if he should fail to fulfill it. A false
oath is called perjury.
"Curse" or the modern "cuss" means,
[L. profanus; pro and fanum, a temple.]
1. Irreverent to any thing sacred; applied to persons. A man is profane
when he takes the name of God in vain, or treats sacred things with
abuse and irreverence.
2. Irreverent; proceeding from a contempt of sacred things, or implying
it; as profane words or language; profane swearing.
CURSE, v.t. pret. and
pp. cursed or curst.
And "vulgar" is defined as,
1. To utter a wish of evil against one; to imprecate evil upon; to call
for mischief or injury to fall upon; to execrate.
1. Malediction; the expression of a wish of evil to another.
2. Imprecation of evil.
VULGAR , a.
Thus there are different types of
"cussing." One can be profane and take the name of the Lord in vain, he
can swear or make a foolish oath in anger or sport, or he can use
vulgar and base terms and expressions. Nevertheless, they all are works
of the "old man" [Eph. 4:22].
1. Pertaining to the common unlettered people; as vulgar life.
2. Used or practiced by common people; as vulgar sports.
6. Mean; rustic; rude; low; unrefined; as vulgar ninds; vulgar manners.
Some ignorant believers often use expressions such as "My God, " "God
almighty, " and even "Christ's sakes" when speaking, but in nearly all
cases this is taking the Lord's name in vain. To profane God's name or
take it in vain it to merely use His name lightly or inappropriately.
These people are not praying to God or using His name in an honorable
way, but only using it as a "by-word." They could just as easily say
"My word" or "My soul" to express the same sentiment, but neither is this
scriptural. One is not to swear by his word, soul, person or anything
else [Matt. 5:36].
Although most Christians will refrain from using the obvious "cuss
words, " very many will lightly and carelessly use "minced oaths"
from time to time. According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia minced oaths
"corrupted forms of
(usually religion-related) swear words that originally arose in English
culture sometime before the Victorian Age, as part of the cultural
impact of Puritanism after the Protestant Reformation."
In other words these "oaths" are a
veiled form of cussing, swearing, and profanity. During the Puritan era
in England open cursing was largely shunned so, true to their nature,
people invented other ways to "express themselves." No wonder the Bible
says of man,
"Their throat is an
open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of
asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:"
The dog will return to its vomit every
time [2Pet. 2:22]
So some of you won't remain ignorant concerning what you say, below is
a list of some oaths that are of a religious nature adapted from the
list found on Wikipedia. Although both "God" and "damn" are Bible
words, the use of these words together is offensive and thus some of
the letters are blanked out in the definitions.
"Shinola, " "Shoot, " "Shucks, "
"Sugar, " etc., all refer to the modern and vulgar barnyard reference
to dung. "Freaking, " "Frickin, " "Fudging, " "Feck, " "Fig, " and
other "F-words" obviously refer to the highly obscene and insulting
"F-word" that is so commonly used by the ignorant, vulgar and profane.
As often as it is used by some one would think it was the speaker's
- Begorrah = By God
- Bejabbers = By Jesus
- Bleeding heck = Bloody Hell
- Blimey = Blind me
- Blinking heck = Bloody Hell
- Bloody = By Our Lady
- By George = By God
- By golly = By God's body
- By gosh = By God
- By gum = By God
- By Jove = By God
- Cheese n' Rice = Jesus Christ
- Chrissakes = For Christ's
- Christmas = Christ
- Cor blimey = God blind me
- Crikey = Christ
- Criminy = Christ
- Cripes = Christ
- Crivvens = Christ defend us
- Dad gum = God d--n
- Dagnammit = Damnation, God
- Dagnabbit = Damnation, God
- Dang = Damn
- Dangnabbit = Damnation, God
- Dangnation = Damnation
- Darn = Damn
- Darnation = Damnation
- Doggone = God d--n or Dog on
- Drat = God rot it
- Egad = A God
- For crying out loud = For
- Gadzooks = God's hooks
(referring to the nails in Jesus on the cross)
- Gat Dangit = God d--n it
- G.D. (pronounced "jee dee") =
- Gee = Jesus or Jerusalem
- Gee whizz = Jesus
- Gee willikers = Jesus or
- Gorblimey = God blind me
- Good grief = Good God
- Goodness gracious = Good God
- Gosh = God
- Gosh darned = God d--ned
- Heck = Hell
- Jason Crisp = Jesus Christ
- Jebus = Jesus
- Jeepers Creepers = Jesus
- Jeez = Jesus
- Jeezy Creezy = Jesus Christ
- Jehoshaphat = Jesus
- Jesus wept = Jesus Christ
- Jiminy Christmas = Jesus
- Jiminy Cricket = Jesus Christ
- Judas Priest = Jesus Christ
- Jumping Jehoshaphat = Jumping
- My goodness = My God
- Sacré bleu = "sacred
blue" = Sang de Dieu ("God's blood")
- Sam Hill = Hell
- Suffering succotash =
- Tarnation = Damnation
- Yumping Yiminy = Jumping Jesus
- Zounds or 'Swounds = God's
These words and similar can
regularly be heard in Christian homes, work places, and even in
churches. Some of you may claim you didn't realize these seeming benign
terms were "oaths." Fair enough, but now you know [1Thes. 5:22].
Your author has been guilty of using some of them when he was younger,
and even today catches himself using variations of them he heard as a
child growing up in "Appalachia." Just the other day he heard himself
say "I declare" which is a form of "I swear" [Matt. 5:34-36; James 5:12]. He still uses old terms
like "I reckon" for "I suppose" or "over yonder" for "over there, " but
"I declare, " "I swan" or "I hope my die" are not
acceptable. [Some of you are lost on these terms, but they are still
common here in the hills.]
If the reader has been reading his Bible long he has encountered what
some call "Bible cuss words." Some will ignorantly claim that cuss
words can be found in the Bible and insist it as a justification for
them to cuss, but this is just diabolical self-serving reasoning.
Although there are places in the Bible where a person curses or berates
another [1Sam. 17:43, 1Sam. 20:30], there are no cuss words in
it per se. Even if there were that would not be a justification for
anyone to use them as such.
The most notable word people mention is "piss" or "pisseth"
found in eight places [2Kings 9:8, 2Kings 18:27, etc.], but this is not a
cuss word. It is merely a word that describes a bodily function. That
the world has taken it and others such as "hell, " "damn, " "dung, "
and a couple others and tried to make them into foul words is not the
Bible's fault. "Piss" and "pisseth against the wall" is
the literal translation of the Hebrew. Most of the weakling new Bibles
are afraid to translate these terms literally.
Words That Aren't
The warped and jaded society today fulfills the words of Isaiah 5:20
where the Lord says,
"Woe unto them that call
evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for
darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! "
A prime example of this Satan inspired
reversal of truth is today it is "politically" and "socially
acceptable" for the "hero" of a movie or television show to routinely
cuss, swear, and even take the Lord's name in vain, while it is never
correct for a hero to use a "racial epithet, " "ethnic slur, " or
"sexual orientation" remark. Only the "bad guy" can stoop to such a low
level. The lesson is in today's society it is acceptable to swear with
vulgar oaths and blaspheme the God of heaven, but it is never
acceptable to use any word towards "your fellow man, " no matter how
factual, that anyone may deem a "slur" or "demeaning." This is not only
true for celebrities but for politicians and business as well. A
politician may be overheard saying "God d--n" or "Jesus Christ" during
an election campaign and it will be laughed off, but if one slipped and
said "nigger, " "spic, " or "dyke" in any context then
he would be severely ostracized and likely cast aside.
This is not to say one should use offensive terms without cause [Christ
regurarly offended many with the truth (Matt. 13:57, Matt. 15:12)], but this fact proves that
society and human nature is just like the Bible says it is—
"evil." It loves the creature and ignores the creator [Rom. 1:25].
The Scriptures, however, are not as "sensitive" as many today. It
reveals that the use of racial and ethnic remarks are sometimes
warranted. The Lord referred to a woman who came to Him for help as a
[Gentile] "dog" [Matt. 15:26] and referred to all
Gentiles as such [Matt. 7:6]. Paul quoted a Cretian writer
that said, "the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies"
and assured Titus this was a true statement. Imagine a prominent person
making such a blanket, ethnic statement today? He would be considered a
prejudiced bigot. Paul was simply telling a truth he knew from
experience. Certain ethnic and cultural groups do have prevailing
characteristics. It is by no means wrong to state obvious facts.
Being born and raised in West Virginia has exposed your author to
various ethnic slurs about those who live among the Appalachian
Mountains. Unlike the highly tender ears of members of the NAACP and
other groups, he is not offended or insulted by this type of remarks.
The Pharisees regularly tried to insult Christ with remarks about his
home town [John 7:52], birth, and mother [John 8:41]. They didn't faze Him.
Neither does it bother your author to be called a "hillbilly, "
"hick, " "yokel, " "white trash, " "inbred, " etc., who lives in
the "armpit" [to put it nicely] of the country and speaks with
an illiterate accent. When times get hard in this country, and
they definitely will, these sophisticated "city-slickers" will be
asking us undignified and unlearned hillbillies how to survive. As the
Scriptures say, "But if any man be ignorant, let him be
ignorant" [1Cor. 14:38].
Greatest "Hate Speech" Of All
There are three words that can be spoken that are the most hated and
despised words as far as the world is concerned that can be uttered by
any man. They diametrically oppose everything the world stands for and
strives for. They are such great words of intolerance that highly
trained "doctors" deem those who repeat them [and worst of all believe
them] as mentally unstable and severe non-conformists in need of
"therapy." These three words, with their variations, if spoken
publically will cause a person to die a violent death in many countries
of the world. The same hated words will cause him to be imprisoned in
others. Yet the Lord sends His people out to speak these words, in
fact, to shout them from housetops. He sends them as sheep among wolves
to proclaim the eternal truths encompassed in these words so others can
join them in partaking in the precious promises belief in them
What are these words you ask? What are the three words that the world
and the Devil hates more than any other?
"Jesus Christ alone, " "Jesus Christ only, " "only by Christ, " etc.,
they all declare that salvation is not in Mohammed, Buddha,
Confucius, Joseph Smith, Jim Jones, and all the other religious
quacks this world has produced, but only in the Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ through His shed blood on the cross. The world will
tolerate Christ being "a way" to God because this allows there to be
other ways, but it will never tolerate one who insists Christ is the
ONLY way to God. To it this is bigoted, narrow-minded hate speech of
the highest order.
Among the "religious" one will hear references to "God" regularly. They
will say "God this" and "God that."
They will "pray to God, " invoke God's blessing, thank "God" for
various things, tell people the "need God" in their life, and on and
on. The problem is one doesn't know who or what they are talking
about. Who is this god of the media, sports stars, and politicians?
This generic god can be anything from nature, self, even Satan.
To Louis Farakan, Osama Bin Ladan, and the other billion or so Moslems,
"God" is some "moon god" named "Allah." To Joseph Smith, Brigham Young,
and the "Osmonds, " "God" is some creature that used to be a man. To
Shirley McClain, Dione Warwick, and other
"new agers, " "God" is some kind of
pantheistic force that encompasses the whole universe. Again, when
somebody speaks of "God, " you don't know what they are talking about.
Anyone who assumes they are referring to the God of the Bible and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is gullible indeed.
Much the same can be said about the term "Christian." The word
"Christian" today usually has little to do with Christ or the Bible. To
the majority of the people of the world when they hear the word they
think of the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. They think that kook
in Rome is the epitome of a "Christian." Why anyone would think a clown
who wears a Halloween costume year 'round, never led a person to
Christ, and lives a life of abundance and ease is a Christian is beyond
me, but most do.
Type the word "Christian" in a search engine [Google] and what comes up
first? The "Christian Science Monitor." As another has said, "Christian
Science is neither Christian or science." "Christian Science teaches that reality is an
interpretation of Divine Mind, that Jesus was not the Christ, that His
sacrifice did not clean from sin, that sickness and evil are illusions,
and that the Bible can only be understood correctly through its
teachings." In other words they are a Christ and Bible denying cult.
Another group who uses the term Christian is the, "Southern Christian Leadership Conference" which
is nothing more than a political [some say communist] organization
designed to "achieve social, economic, and political justice." It was
founded by the "Reverend" Dr. Martain Luther King Jr. and the
"Reverend" Jesse L. Jackson was a member. Jackson, the year after he
was "ordained" a Baptist minister , told Life magizine, that when
he worked as a waiter in a Greenville, South Carolina restaurant, he
would spit into the soups and salads of white customers. He said, "[Spitting
into the food] gave me a psychological gratification." He also
said, "The Bible is nothing but a succession of civil rights
struggles by the Jewish people, against their oppressors." Clearly, the term
"Christian" doesn't mean much of anything today and neither does the
That Holy Name
There is only one name in the universe that gets the
attention of heaven. There is only one name that sinners can believe on
and get their sins redeemed, their is only one name that will compel
every person who ever lived to bow the knee and confess this name as
Lord [Phil. 2:10]. That name is, of course,
the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When a person says this holy
name, then one can take notice because this is the name of a specific
person who lived and still lives. There is little doubt to who he is
referring, but this name is rarely heard in the world except in vain.
It is the hated name. Hated on earth, but loved in heaven.
Christian, if you feel you need to "cuss, " a little now and then why
don't you use speech that this present evil world deems as cussing
instead of words that bring a reproach to your Lord? The next time you
feel the urge to "let one rip" go out and tell someone how Jesus Christ
alone can save them from a Devil's Hell. You will offend a lot of
people, but you will make your Father in heaven delight and the angels
rejoice. Choose this day whom you mouth will serve [Josh. 24:15].