Is there really anything wrong with cursing and swearing? Aren’t they just words like any other words? Does God really care?
(Note to parents: I will be using some words typically identified as swear words or curse words in this article. Please judge for yourselves whether this article is appropriate for your children. I am assuming mature adults can handle this content.)
When we think of cursing or swearing we typically see the two as identical with one another. However, the two are usually quite different.
To “curse” someone or something is to either ask God (or some other spiritual being) to punish someone or bring some kind of hardship or torment—or to announce that God (or some other spiritual being) is about to inflict hardship, suffering or calamity of some sort. Joshua, for example, acted on God’s behalf by pronouncing a curse upon anyone who attempted to rebuild Jericho:
Josh. 6:26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: “At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates.”
Unless you are a prophet speaking on God’s behalf, however, any cursing you do is more than likely done out of anger and frustration, and you are asking God to punish someone on your behalf, rather than the other way around. When you say something like “Damn you!”—you are calling down a curse on someone. Words mean things. In this case, “damn” means to condemn someone to hell. When you curse you are placing yourself as judge and jury over another human being.
James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Swearing, in some cases, is making a promise that is supposedly guaranteed by some higher authority. People say, “I swear on my mother’s grave,” or I swear by God…:”
Heb. 6:16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.
Swearing is also using profanity—foul language / impure imagery—to make a point.
A common expression today that was not long ago considered foul language is the phrase “that sucks!” It distresses me to even type the words. Why? First, because when I used the phrase before I came to Christ I knew what it meant, and I wanted to plaster that image in another person’s mind. It also distresses me because most who use the phrase today don’t think about what it means, yet—for those who do understand—an unwholesome image is still plastered on the mind.
Matt. 5:34, 36 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
After all, what is your intent when you use profanity? Are you reflecting Jesus Christ in your life—or something else?
Eph. 4:29 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.