Question: A lot of people quote Ephesians 4:29 when they tell me cussing is a sin, but it doesn’t say cussing its talking about corrupt speech. I always thought that means verbally going off on someone to make them feel like crud. I didn’t think it was referring to cussing, and the individual who told me this really laid it on thick. I haven’t even said I dreamed a dream to my mom in a long time cuz it has the word h**l in it, but does the bible really tell us not to cuss?
Now don’t get me wrong I try not to use foul language especially with people but I mean like for those who sing or act, if it is in the lyrics or script would it then be acceptable since you’re not going off on someone? I guess for this one I just wonder what is scriptural and what is just going overboard. I know a lot of Christian actors or singers who have a hard time choosing if it would be okay in that instance or not.
Answer: What is the purpose of using cuss words? To shock, to shut someone up, to inflict pain? Does that comport with Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4:29 to only let words that build others up to come from your mouth? Now an actor, portraying someone who cusses might be a different issue since the role is seeking to communicate a message about how people interact or whatever. But some uses of cuss words are completely gratuitous and unnecessary and it is questionable whether believers should put themselves in such movies. This too is not an open and shut case.
Question: But I don’t know if I’m just dumb or what but the whole Ephesians 4:29 still feels wrong. I mean I was raised to see words as just words unless you put your intent behind them. For instance if I cuss someone out and make them feel like crud then yes it goes against that scripture, but what about if I cuss in a joke to make a friend feel better or sometimes a motivational speech had a cuss word in it. Now I don’t know if I’m alone in this but a cuss word is meant to portray a stronger emotion either good or bad. I have never thought that cuss words were inherently bad. Am I wrong?
Plus, what is and is not a bad word is cultural also, so I mean take the word bloody for instance to me it means nothing, but if I go to England is basically like saying d**n or the F bomb.
I honestly don’t mean to be argumentative but I just don’t understand how we can take this scripture and apply it to certain sets of words that our society has decided are bad over time, I mean am I wrong in thinking that Ephesians is referring to how you use words? Cuz like I pointed out even a supposedly bad word can be very edifying if used properly.
Answer: You are not wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong in most of the words we have designated cuss words. I can see the situation you are talking about when a cuss word might actually cheer a friend. It is all about intent and purpose. Perhaps the only reason a cuss word would cheer a friend is because our culture has chosen to express emotion that way. This might suggest that we are bad at communicating emotion or that there are just certain emotions that demand a harsh word. Words that denote a sexual act may fall into a different category in that we are treating something precious as crude. Maybe it is better that we overcome our derogatory views of sexuality than submit to a cultural usage in that case.
You are being discerning and I think that is the mark of a Christian. We don’t conform to the world if the world is portraying a wrong perspective, but there are still beautiful and valuable aspects to our world’s cultures that we can endorse. It is God’s common grace to all (Matt 5:45-48) that enables human beings to do good despite ourselves.
- The F-Word (momof3isnuts.wordpress.com)
- Good Christian… Bad Christian? (andrewpearle.wordpress.com)
- Douglas Wilson video interview on using profanity in writing: http://www.canonwired.com/featured/cussing/