No, seriously. Is there a deal? Is it a sin to say cuss words? They’re just words, so what’s the big deal? What if you’re just joking around? And if cussing IS wrong, why do so many Christians cuss casually without conviction?
I got these questions from some high school kids in my husband’s and my small group recently, and to be honest I didn’t know how to answer them.
My whole life I’ve been told not to cuss (we also couldn’t say “hate”, “sucks”, or “nasty”.. and fun fact: my mom still refers to “fart” as the “F word” 😂). While I felt in my heart cussing was wrong, I never stopped to ask my four year old’s favorite question 👉🏻 “Why?”
This is why I love high schoolers who are new in their faith (and toddlers!), they teach me so much more than I could teach myself:
That it’s important to understand the reasons for the standards we set in our lives.
•• They remind me that when we are bold & humble enough to ask the simple questions, our faith can be radically deepened.
SO, I’m asking the question.
I’m asking for me.
I’m asking for you.
I’m asking for our children.
I’m asking for all of us.
Is it sinful to say cuss words? And why?
The short answer is YES. But stick with me, because the long answer is one I think we really need.
1. There isn’t a “list” of forbidden cuss words; It’s more dangerous than that.
Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome (filthy) talk come from your mouth, but only what is good for building someone up in need.”
Then he says in Ephesians 5:4 “Nor should there be any obscenity, foolish talk or crude joking, which are out of place.”
👉🏻 Paul knew that to honor God with our tongues, we needed more than just a list of bad words to avoid, because what classifies as inappropriate language changes over time and across cultures. For example: The cuss words said today aren’t even in the Bible.
This is why instead of a list, the Bible gives us these verses in Ephesians as a standard to discern what is “out of place”, unfitting & dishonorable to God (aka sinful), that we shouldn’t use. Regardless of the 8 words in our English language deemed cuss words, if a word or phrase is unwholesome, vulgar, foolish, filthy, crude, or obscene, it is sinful to say.
2. God isn’t laughing.
I get it. The joke is funnier and your friends laugh harder when you say the cuss word. But please hear me on this – God isn’t laughing.
And if God doesn’t find our sin funny, why should we?
I think back to when I was in school, and wanted so badly to be popular like the cool girls. I remember lying on my mom’s closet floor in tears, and hearing her say to me, “Who decides what’s popular? Being popular is simply being known for something. What do you want to be known for?”
Those words gave me such confidence to stop looking to the world to define what’s “cool”, and start looking at what does God say is cool.
I asked my high school girls (and myself), “Do you think God would say cussing is cool?”
Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
We are called to go out and make disciples. But we cannot win people to Christ by looking like the world.
3. Our words bring life or death.
I once heard a nutritionist say that everything we put in our mouths is either making us healthier or making us sicker; and thinking about this will help us make wiser food choices.
But What if we used the same thought about what comes out of our mouths?
Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Think about that for a minute. Every single word you speak either brings someone closer to Jesus (life) or pushes them farther away (death).
Woah. We have a serious responsibility as Christians, to stop and choose the words we speak wisely so that we may produce fruit that makes everyone around us healthier.
I love this verse in Luke 14:23 “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.”
Are we COMPELLING people to come to Jesus with the words we speak?
4. Who makes your rules?
Who decided cussing is cool? Ya’ll, it’s the same guy who decided getting drunk is cool, and that gossiping is cool, and that watching pornography is cool.
It’s the same guy who convinced Eve that eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was cool.
His name is Satan – the Prince of Lies, and wow, is he sneaky? The devil has taken over our televisions, our music and even our coffee shops, with so much filthy language in attempt to slowly desensitize us to the sound of sin.
And it’s working.
I asked my high school girls, “What percentage of people your age do you think cuss?” They said: 100%. What’s even more shocking to me, is that their answer didn’t change when I asked specifically about their Christian friends.
Satan convinces us that God isn’t concerned with something so small as our tongue. Lies!
In James 3, God urges us that although the tongue is a small part of the body, it controls the whole course of our life.
“No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
Friends, God takes our words seriously, and so should we. “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26
5. It’s hard to break bad habits.
How can we tame our tongues when Scripture says it’s impossible?
Matthew 19:26 says, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” We tame our tongues by relying not on ourselves and our own will power, but by partnering with the Holy Spirit and using the supernatural strength of the Lord inside of us.
Jesus warns us to not conform to the patterns of this world, but then gives us this hope: that amidst our most sinful addictions and bad habits, with Jesus we can be transformed through the renewal of our mind. (Romans 12:2)
Jesus thinks too highly of us to merely give us a rule book to follow. Christianity is not moralism. He wants our hearts, filled with the genuine desire to submit to His standards and bring honor to His name, so that we may make Him known to others.
•• So, girlfriends, are we bringing Him glory with the words we speak or are we tarnishing our testimony for Christ?
My prayer for all of us is that whatever standard we set for our lives and our families, we know the biblical reason behind it. I pray God renews our mind and transforms the language we use. I pray that we are so filled with gratitude and the Holy Spirit, that there is no room for unwholesome words to pour out of our hearts. I pray we stop looking to our peers and pop culture to tell us what’s cool and acceptable — and that we become known for bringing Life to people around us through our words.
Madison is a 6’ 2” mama of three littles (4, 2 & newborn!), living in Bloomington, IN with her college sweetheart hubby, Griffen. When she is not working full-time for a leading tech company – she is baking her signature chocolate chip cookies and getting real with teenagers in her living room. Madison is a tall girl with a tall dream to make a difference for the Kingdom through the lives of young women.
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