Careful Little Mouth What You Say: Cussing and the Good News of Jesus

Your words matter. Cussing is a disgusting habit and one that can be hard to break.  I used to cuss and to be honest it’s a category that I am still a weaker brother in. Not so much with what I say, but when I hear people say other words or stop just short of saying ‘dirty’ words.  My mind still goes to the ‘dirty’ word and I can not help but feel dirty for thinking it.  Not that these words have magical powers, but because they remind me of how I used to speak. I even have Christian brothers who all but say the bad words and then they get a twisted smile on their face as if to say “get my drift… I could have said a cuss word?” I don’t smile back because they aren’t helping anybody when they do that.

I guess, truth be told, I am bothered more when “Christians” cuss than when people who aren’t Christians cuss.  The reason is that “Christians” are supposed to know better. There are a million and one reasons not to cuss, but the best ones I have found are in the scripture (check the list below).

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8)

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. (Ephesians 4:29)

talking about the tongue James writes:

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:9-12)

The third commandment also reminds us not to take the name of the Lord in vain (Ex. 20:7).  While this does have implications for how we use the name of God, the larger context dictates that those who are called by His name (in other words … Christians) are not supposed to act in a way that would bring shame to God’s name.

At best, cussing is just crude language.  But even if cussing is just crude language… does anything good come from it? Is there a way to cuss to the glory of God?

That being said.  If you struggle with trying to stop cussing.  I know what you are going through.  Don’t look for a way to continue in your unhealthy speech patterns.  1 John 1:9 reminds us that if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and purify us.  Ask God to help you get rid of your cursing habit and to replace your speech with edifying words. At the same time be reading God’s word.

If someone who isn’t a Christian cusses around you, show some grace.  You don’t have to be the cussing police (especially if they don’t claim to know God).  Your friends who don’t know God, need God more than they need to stop cussing. At the same time if it really bothers you that they cuss, try politely asking them not to cuss around you.  When they ask why, in a non-judgmental way let them know that you are a Christian, and you would appreciate not hearing cuss words.  You might be surprised at how many conversations about Jesus that this opens up.  At the same time be ready for some people to cuss more around you because they now know it bothers you.

Some Christians have said that they cuss so that other people will know that they are like them and that they don’t judge people for cussing or anything.  I really don’t think you have to cuss for people to hear you when you talk about Jesus.  That kind of behavior is driven more out of a desire to be accepted by people than a desire to please God.  God doesn’t need you to cuss to show that He loves people. I’ve had more gospel oriented discussions when someone asks why I don’t cuss than I ever had when I slipped up and let a word out.

8 thoughts on “Careful Little Mouth What You Say: Cussing and the Good News of Jesus

  1. viewsfromsue

    Thank you for blogging on this. I am a Christian and this is one of the two areas of my life that I struggle horribly with. I am not proud of my words. I’m printing this out to read and try to absorb so that it takes root. I’ll let you know if it helps.


  2. pastorjonathan1

    I’ve found that being quick to repent and ask God to change me when I let out a mis-spoken word has helped me over the long run with this bad habit.


  3. emiklio

    Hi, I am not a Christian…in fact, I’m an Atheist, but I’m interested in learning about different religions. I’ve always been curious what the reason is behind not cussing.

    To me it seems like it should matter more how you use your words, than which words you are using. For example, if you told someone they’re worthless and stupid, that (to me) seems more wrong than using a swear word when talking to them in a friendly manner. I’m curious what the Christian thought is about that, though. Which is worse, and exactly why are cuss words considered wrong? Thanks!


  4. For 30 years I taught h.s. English and speech, with special emphasis on effective, correct writing and public speaking. When I retired and began working with adult writing classes, I developed what I can only explain as “Retirement Tourettes.” Without the personal and professional responsibility to students, suddenly I was a teen again, breaking the rules and cussing whenever I wanted. It didn’t take long to wear itself out; who we are, how we treat others and respond to them shouldn’t be controlled by–or excused by–our age or careers.
    Thanks for this blog…and the reminder.
    Marylin Warner


  5. It does sound to me as if the Bible is telling us not to use nasty words in a caustic manner. It means not to put people down for your own ego. In other words’ “If you don’t have anything nice to say; don’t say anything at all. Taking the Lord’s name in vain for such phrases as, “God Damnit.” The true God does not damn anyone or any thing so, it does put God and Christianity in a bad light. You may not be one of those Christians but, the ones who seek to “damn” anything that is not like them or in what they feel the “image of Christ” should be, are bad for the Christian image. I’m about to write a blog looking towards politics which will include my views on religion- since they can’t seem to be separated in this “free” country. Please give it a read when I get it posted.


  6. pastorjonathan1


    Great thought and question. I would think that culture would be the determining factor on curse words. Since even in the English speaking world different words are considered profane. The idea is that Christians should not be characterized by profane speach.

    You are right to assume it would be just as much or even more important in how we use our words. Jesus, himself taught that calling someone a fool (stupid) was on a level with murder (Matthew 5:21-24).

    The post is intended to remind Christians that they are not to characterized by profane speech. Jesus’ message wasn’t one of condemnation, but of salvation (John 3:16-21). And as we are being saved we are transformed by God’s work in us.


  7. ffrasure

    As for taking God’s name in vain- well there’s a sermon in that one. People only think saying G–D is taking God’s name in vain. To take a name means to attach it to yourself, for example when you get married you typically take your husband’s name. To have an affair you would be taking his name in vain or to marry for any reason besides love. The same is with God…if you take on His name and refer to yourself as christian and you are doing it for the wrong reasons…such as social networking, political move, to fit in, or whatever reason then you are taking God’s name in vain. While their are millions of christians in name in the U.S. I’m willing to bet more than 30% (I’m being highly optimistic here) have simply taken His name in vain. No one wants to be nagged or screamed at about going to hell and so they play the game. In the meantime…nothing changes. They still cheat people, gossip, lie, steal, etc. There’s no authenticity or real Love in the depth of the heart….only judgment, bitterness, and competitiveness with other “christians” for the limelight and “glory” of being the “better brother or sister.” This is the main reason there is such a turning against christianity. Cursing is the least of the problems.


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