Curse words are letters and syllables put together and sounded out through the human tongue. They attempt to say something we already have other words for in a more definitive, stronger, and (sometimes) offensive way.

Wait…First let me say this: You can ask my wife and family. They have heard me curse 5 times maybe in their life. I just did not grow up that way. For some, it is like an accent they formed as they were raised. I don’t have that accent and I don’t see myself working to acquire it.

Like I said yesterday, you would be hard pressed to find any real, in-context prohibition against salty language in the Bible or through natural theology. There is a lot about demeaning and worthless talk, but that all goes to the meaning and intentionality of your words. It normally has to do with being UNNECESSARILY offensive and bringing people down with a bad attitude and negativity. Even the third commandment has nothing to do with cursing. It says “you shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.” This commandment is simple. It is about protecting God’s reputation, not saying bad words, even G-D.

The thing that frustrates me and why I write about this right now is that I know many people who think it is some sort of mark of spirituality that they don’t curse. They take undue pride in it. They look down on people who do, sometimes assigning them a place on hell while placing more and more crowns on their own heads due to their holy abstinence. I know one person who was approached by a visitor to the church and asked if she could share the Gospel to him. What an exciting moment! I watched this go down from beginning to end. However, the moment was cut (confusingly to the visitor) short because she could not stand to hear all the f-bombs he was dropping. She ran past me saying “I can’t do this!!” I did step on, but how tragically messed up that was. I will never forget it.

I personally wish that we (Christians) could redeem all language, making the words themselves amoral and simply using them properly. I never want to unnecessarily offend anyone, but I also desire that those who think cursing is a sin to graduate from being a “weaker brethren” (in this case) and not hold our language hostage. We need those stronger words available. They are valuable.

As I said before, no words are inherently sinful. It is absurd to think so. We should use all words intentionally and under control. We should not be unnecessarily offensive, but we don’t want people to get the idea that we are afraid to hear certain phonetic articulations or use them if the context calls for it.

Be international, be clear, and use any God-given language for the purpose of honoring him and building people up. If you have to use the stronger words like “shit” in the way that Paul did to shock people into listening (and the way that I did just now!), do so (Phil 3:8). Let it remain rare that you use some of these words or they lose their power. We need words with shock and awe. That doesn’t mean it is “bad”, it just means that you mean business. If you want to use some of the other sexual type “curse” words in the bedroom with your spouse, it is your prerogative. (Hold on to your hat) Maybe that is what they are made for!! Most curse words normally sound tacky in other contexts. Tackiness is not a sin, it is just…well…tacky. Who wants to be tacky?

These are God’s words on loan to us to use properly.

I know that these concepts are going to get some of you upset with me. I don’t mean to do so. I could be wrong. But consider what I say and let’s talk it out.

Concerning Eph 4:29 this video I made may help you understand where I am coming from:

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    10 replies to "Is Cursing a Sin"

    • C Michael Patton

      Hey, you just quoted my dad!

    • Caleb

      ??? To curse something is to condemn it. “Salty language” is colloquially called “cursing,” but it’s not necessarily a curse, even if someone is offended by it. Is salty language a sin? Technically, yes, since it’s simply not the best thing to do. Is the use of some salty language simply bad manners and other salty language grievous and dangerous? Yes, again.

    • Phil Golden Jr.

      I think Ephesians 4:29 needs to be considered regarding cursing, swearing, or profanity. Corrupt communication seems to refer to that which is useless or unwholesome. I think that excludes most cursing or profanity from the believer’s mouth, especially when Paul calls us to have language that builds up and provides grace. And while skubalon is a strong term, I’m not sure the English equivalent would be “$h!*. Certainly, we need to be able to converse with unbelievers and not be so offended by their talk that we can’t share the gospel. But our talk needs also needs to minister grace and be useful to the hearers. I am curious to hear you thoughts on how Ephesians 4:29 bears on your argument in the article. And I am very appreciative of Credo. So much helpful content!

    • Ryan

      Thank you for this thoughtful article.

      ”This commandment is simple. It is about protecting God’s reputation…”

      This is a good statement. Should the same not be true for those who represent Christ to the world?
      Is abstinence from cursing not a form of daily dying to oneself?
      We are called to be in the world, not of the world.

      2 cents from a fellow alien…

    • Jim

      I am one of those prudes that refuse to stoop by using such language. Let your speech be seasoned with grace under the control of the holy spirit. If you can’t control your mind in your mouth then by my estimation you’re out of control.

    • Ranger

      Be ye separate

      This is truly vain thoughts and arguments that probably is a symptom of a deeper issue

      Step out in the world

      If you don’t use “salty” language (flipping biblical salt term on its head) you are clearly different

    • Donna Buck

      Eph 5:3  But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. 
      Eph 5:4  Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting – all of which are out of character – but rather thanksgiving. 
      Eph 5:5  For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 

    • Kenneth

      I happen to agree with this article. Question: “Is it a sin to cuss / swear / curse?”

      Answer: It is definitely a sin to swear (curse, cuss, etc.). The Bible makes this abundantly clear. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” First Peter 3:10 declares, “For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” James 3:9-12 summarizes the issue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

      James makes it clear that the lives of Christians – the “brothers” – should not be characterized by evil speech. By making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and cursing come from his/her mouth. We cannot praise God while at the same time cursing our brothers.

      Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God, praise for Him and love for others will pour forth. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

      Why is it a sin to cuss / swear / curse? Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man” (Romans 7:22), which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we swear and curse, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. When we put our faith in Christ, we receive a new nature from God (2 Corinthians 5:17), our hearts are transformed, and our speech reflects the new nature God has created within us (Romans 12:1–2). Thankfully, when we fail, our great God is “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

    • Roger Pierce

      Profanity can be considered a form of expedient expression without being inherently evil, though perhaps no less repugnant or inappropriate to harmony and good will.

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