Hey Dr. Lawyer,
I know it’s short notice but could you put together a short presentation on what the Bible says about swearing, why certain words are bad (crap vs. shit, damn vs. darn), and what some techniques are that I could use to reduce my swearing.
Before we talk about how we are to communicate with one another, we need to begin with the motive to do anything. That motive is to love and glorify God above all things. If we don’t begin here, we will simply be spinning our wheels and going nowhere.
Love for God spills out into love for our neighbor. If we love God, we’ll love our neighbor. This is because God is love and when we love God, we become like him. He loves so we love. The way we love will come out in how we treat one another. I can’t say “I love you” and then do evil to you. It isn’t consistent, it is hypocritical.
In another vein, not loving one another is a sign that we don’t love God. The Apostle John tells us that if we don’t love our neighbor who we have seen, we can’t love God who we have not seen (1 Jn. 4:20-21). If we bite and devour one another, we don’t love one another (Gal. 5:15). Instead, we love ourselves.
If we love ourselves by chewing up our neighbors, even if we claim to love God, we are lying and the truth is not in us.
That said, what kinds of things should we be looking for in the way we communicate with one another? First, we need to know that unkempt, our tongues are viciously evil. What comes out of our mouth reveals our heart. Out of the mouth the heart speaks (Lk. 6:45). So, before you try to clean up your speech, you need to submit yourself to God so that he can give you a new heart. If you try to clean things up on the outside, before your insides are clean, you will be confused and confounded. You will be striving after something that cannot be done.
Second, once your heart has been submitted to God, you need to begin obeying him. Here are a few passages that talk specifically about the way we should talk to one another:
“You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain” (Ex. 20:7). This verse is saying a few things. The most obvious is to not use God’s name when you either don’t mean it, or in situations where he wouldn’t do it. So, “God damn” is always taking the Lord’s name in vain. This is because either you don’t really want someone damned, or you shouldn’t want them damned. And the knuckle you just smacked on the fender of your car can’t be damned. The second way we can disobey this verse leads to the next passage.
“Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Mt. 5:37). The main point of this one passage is that we should not make pledges that we cannot keep, and in line with the main point of the last one, do not call on God when he is not interested in standing by whatever you are asking for. The secondary point of this and the last is that we need to say what we mean and mean what we say. There is a lot of cussing and foul language that simply doesn’t mean anything at all, in the context, but actually does mean very evil things in themselves.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). This passage is pretty self-explanatory. Whatever you say let it be good for whoever you’re talking with. Let nothing you say cause the hearer to cringe, or duck. Don’t let them think God might be striking you with lightening any minute and they need to get away from you. Also, don’t let your speech make them dirty because the language is foul.
Another way to think about these things is instead of not saying bad things, fill your mouth with blessings to others. “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, And his tongue talks of justice” (Psa. 37:30). Let what you say to others build them up and fill them with gladness to be in your midst. Let them want to be with you because what you have to say is always edifying and helpful. “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Rom. 14:18). “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6).
Above all, love one another from the heart. Love is patient and kind, love is not envious, but rejoices when truth wins the day. Love never fails, love is triumphant. Love with your every action, your thoughts, and your mouth. Love God, imitate God, talk like God. “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him” (1Jn. 3:18).
Oh, one more thing. You asked about specific words. My general comments on words are that after you’ve dealt with what I’ve written above and you are saying what you mean when you speak, you generally shouldn’t need to worry about the specific words. On the other hand, some do, and so I say don’t use words you don’t mean and don’t use euphemisms for words you shouldn’t be using. So, using this principle, you won’t need to use words like ‘darn,’ ‘fudge,’ ‘dang,’ and the like. And again, what does dang mean anyway?
Step by Step
In the context of believing 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 do the following:
- Recognize that God is God and you are not.
- Go to God in humble submission asking him to change you from the inside out.
- Give yourself to serving with every fiber of your being.
- Serving in gratitude is loving. Love God with every fiber of your being.
- Be willing and open to him changing you in every area of your life.
- Let him change you.
- Read your Bible several times a day, with an eye to serving God and everyone around you.
- Thank God for what he’s doing in your life.
I hope this helps.