Published on February 12th, 2014 | by Jeff Price0
Jesus Jargon: Profanity
Redemption, salvation, repentance; the Christian religion is replete with it’s share of distinctive jargon. The majority of which is so unfamiliar to some that it seems that at times we Christians are speaking a foreign language. So, to a Christian, what exactly is “profanity”?
Profanity: That which is not concerned with religion or shows no regard for the sacred.
While there are many forms of profanity, most will equate profanity with unwholesome words or speech.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” With this in mind, there are many things that a Christian can consider to be unwholesome.
This article is not only meant for the unbeliever, but the believer as well. I am sure that many of you have met several Christians who hold that cussing or the use of what are currently and commonly considered profane words do not fall into the realm of Ephesians 4:29 because they are only currently and commonly considered as filthy speech by society, not God.
But, let’s examine the facts. A cuss word can fall into one or both of those categories. If a word is set aside – either by God or society – as a word used to belittle another, provoke anger, provoke mental anguish, incite sexual imagery or imagery of foul bodily processes for the purpose of any of the previously mentioned uses or for coarse chatter, it follows that such words are either not concerned with religion or show a disregard for the sacred or both.
Many of the words known as cuss-words are descriptions of immoral acts and/or filthy emissions of waste from the body or private body parts. Whatever the original meanings of these words, these vulgar meanings are undoubtedly connected with them now. When a person uses one of these words, he is calling to mind one of these acts or objects. With this in mind, remember that Paul tells Christians to dwell on things that are honorable, pure, lovely, and excellent Philippians 4:8. When you use language that calls to mind some obscene act or private body part, you are not only dwelling on the wrong objects yourself, you are also causing others to focus on these same things.
But what defines immorality today? Everyone will agree – some gleefully – that morality is becoming an outdated notion. Jude 16:23 reminds us that in the last days there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. Moreover, 2 Timothy 3:2-4 tells us that people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. No one can deny that these markers of the current ungodly world in which we now live. Yet, even in this hedonistic, morally corrupt society we still hold to some semblance of a moral code with regard to what is unacceptable language – as is evidenced by the television and movie ratings our media currently – albeit, loosely – adheres.
Most everyone is familiar with the late comedian, George Carlin’s famous rant on the 7 dirty words you can’t say on television. Though his skit was humorously derisive of the practice of attempting to uphold some form of morally acceptable vocabulary, it brings into focus the contrast between society’s half-hearted struggle to hold to some type of morality and our inherent tendency to scoff at such things. The 7 dirty words that Carlin mentioned in his comedy skit and most every derivative thereof are, for the most part, still banned from primetime network television as required by the F.C.C. Moreover, many movies receive an “R” rating because of foul language, meaning that even unbelievers recognize that cussing is inappropriate. Additionally, in many public parks and other venues, the use of foul language is prohibited altogether.
This begs the question; why would a Christian claim as a personal liberty that which even our paganistic society recognizes as offensive?
We are told in 2 Timothy 2:16 to avoid worldly, empty chatter because it will lead to further ungodliness. Colossians 3:5 tells Christians to consider themselves dead to immoral and impure practices and Romans 12:2 warns us against conforming to this world. If our current ungodly society considers cussing to be immoral, empty chatter, shouldn’t Christians all the more consider it to be so? Should a Christian not strive to shun what society considers both immoral and impure? Certainly so! This point is made even clearer when we consider what Titus 2:7-8 has to say. It states, “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”
For this reason alone a Christian should avoid any type of profanity or any words or coarse talk that could even vaguely reflect what are commonly held to be words that are the mark of a morally corrupt or morally weak person. But there are other reasons for that a representative of Christ should avoid profanity.
A Christian’s use of profanity mars the impression of Christianity itself and cripples any persuasive influence a Christian may have on a non-believer; in other words – his or her “witness”. The Christian who uses foul language in public wastes the opportunity to set himself apart from unbelievers who commonly say the same things. The fact is, the person who does not know you but hears you fire off a cuss-word in a sentence would likely think to himself, “No way this person’s a Christian!” As a Christian, our cussing, cursing, coarse talk or joking and all other types of language one would not find in a “G” rated movie leaves others with no reason to suspect that you are any different than everyone else, and therefore, gives a person little or no reason to listen to what you might have to say about Christ.
People in society have their own view of what is expected of a Christian. Granted, there are times when we should strive shatter some of those preconceived notions – but only when doing so will glorify God. The use of words that are commonly considered unchristian-like – even by our Godless society – does not shatter anything but our credibility as a Christian.
Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”