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Does Jesus care if we cuss?

I picked up this habit of swearing at work. My wife and I do have harsh arguments and angry words. Now our child has let some bad words slip and we are very upset. Does Jesus care if we cuss? We don’t know how to change – as a family. Please help. 

Many today believe that God doesn’t care if we cuss or swear. They believe that the casual use of foul language is okay for Christians.

It is not.

Scripture says, “What goes into your mouth does not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth, that is what defiles you…But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile you.” (Matthew 15:11, 18)

God gave us this powerful communication tool – speech. John begins his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). In Genesis 1 God SPEAKS the universe into being. The final words of Revelation are a warning about adding to or subtracting from the “words” of that prophetic book (Revelation 22:19)

Even the movie industry warns audiences about language it considers inappropriate for children and young people to hear. Yet, children today are used to witnessing fights and foul language thrown at members of their own family, often even by their own parents.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul urges believers to think on “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). As a man thinks, so is he. And the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Believers of every culture clean up their language when they come to accept Jesus.

In the opening of German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer writes against believing in a cheap grace. Grace is costly, he argues, and therefore, so is discipleship. There are, of course, worse evils than using profanity. Yet, two of the Ten Commandments (the third and the ninth) deal with the sanctity of oral communication. James scolds his readers for their foul language: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be!” (James 3:10)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonished his listeners not to say “Raca” to each other (Matthew 5:22). The most common view is that it is a reference to the Aramaic word Reka, which literally means ‘foolish one’, a cuss word used during that period.

Paul tells the Ephesians that obscenities and “coarse joking” are “improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:4)

Never play with obscene language and coarse speech. The casual use of “damn” trivialises the beauty of speech. Sprinkling conversations with sexual innuendoes and expletives demeans the sacredness of marriage – the divinely-ordained union of a man and a woman. The desire to stop is a good first step – it comes from the desire for a deeper relationship with Christ. Our best friend and counsellor – the Holy Spirit – can help!

Ask yourself how this became a lifestyle. There are other words that are probably more appropriate for the situation you face, so actively learn to use them. Learn to watch your tongue. Instead of holding our tongue only in certain situations when your boss or a religious leader is around, practice that habit in all situations. As you strengthen that self-control muscle, it will become stronger.

The next time you’re about to swear at the referee on your TV screen or abuse your partner, it helps to picture Jesus sitting next to you on your couch. It is a sin to use our words to tear people down. What the Bible does make clear is that any language used to belittle, demean, or attack someone is a sin – worse still if it is your wife or best friend.

Train your mind to think and speak different – by spending more time in prayer and in HIS WORD. If a cuss word slips out, ask the Lord’s forgiveness and apologise to the listener – even if it’s a child. Children have the right to grow up hearing and seeing good things – a child who sees parents fighting should also see them making up – with much love and mutual respect. That will teach the child problem-solving – the godly way.

If your child used a bad word, pray with him or her and you may also try the swear jar – that time tested method. Any time anyone in the family gets angry or swears, get a $1 bill and stick it in the jar. Let the swear jar serve as a testament to your journey.

Emotional outbursts need to be handled well too. No uncontrolled outbursts. If you jam your fingers, or if someone insults you or jumps ahead of traffic, develop a habit of stating the honest truth of what just happened. Out loud clearly state, “Ouch that hurts’. Do not call people names. Talk to God and talk to self – to calm yourself down. Practicing a kind heart can go a long way to controlling one’s tongue. Love can be tough, but it should never be rude or cruel. Its purpose is to build up, not tear down.

“Now is the time to cast off and throw away all these rotten garments of anger, hatred, cursing, and dirty language.” Colossians 3:8

Praying for deep-rooted healing for you and yours!

We answer your questions about faith, marriage, relationships, parenting, emotional issues, financial crisis or any spiritual struggle here. Have a counselling query? Ask us here, by email [email protected]

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