"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, 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" [1 Cor. 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" [2 Pet. 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" [2 Tim. 1:13] "wholesome words" [1 Tim 6:3], comforting words [1 Thes. 4:18]. Although this nature may also use words to "reprove," "rebuke," [2 Tim. 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 hypocryte. 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 absolutly 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.
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.]
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.
An "oath" is much the same,
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.
To be "profane" means,
PROFA'NE, a. [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" or the modern "cuss" means,
CURSE, v.t. pret. and pp. cursed or curst.
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.
And "vulgar" is defined as,
VULGAR , a.
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.
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].
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 are,
"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:" [Rom 3:13-14]
The dog will return to its vomit every time [2 Pet. 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 middle name.
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 [1 Thes. 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 [1 Sam. 17:43, 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 [2 Ki. 9:8, 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.
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 regularly offended many with the truth (Matt. 13:57, 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" [1 Cor. 14:38].
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 provides.
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 term "Reverend."
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].