God is more concerned with the context and the spirit behind the words we use rather than the social stigmas we’ve attached to them.
- Love hopes for the best
- What is cursing?
- Why is cursing wrong?
- Dealing with curses
- What is vulgarity?
- The problems with linguistic snobbery
- Should Christians say “bad” words?
- What is God really saying about our speech?:
Warning: This article contains cursing, cussing, bad words, swearing, profanity, and vulgarity.
This message is about another attribute of love: hoping for the best. We will also examine history and scripture to see if cursing is a sin; and discover what God is really saying about our speech life. If you haven’t read/listened to the previous message, I encourage you to do so here first.
Let’s get started:
Love hopes for the best
1 Corinthians 13:7 says that “love hopeth all things,” in other words: it hopes for the best. Love wishes good fortune to those around us. If we love others, we hope the best for them. Whether enemy or friend, our wishes for them should be positive. Why? Because God wishes the best over his entire creation:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet 3:9)
As we can see, it’s God wish that no man would perish, but that all come to repentance so they can have eternal life. So in contrast, it’s against the will of God to wish hell or misfortune on others.
In some cases, our enemies will stumble or receive judgement for their deeds in this lifetime, but Prov 24:17-18 says that we shouldn’t rejoice, “lest the Lord see it, and it displease him.” Likewise with David, when the final fall and judgement came to one of his enemies (Saul), David mourned his death instead of rejoicing (2 Sam 1:12).
These examples show us what kind of mindset we should have towards others, especially our enemies — a mindset of sympathy and positivity even in the worst case. Those Christians who had parties and rejoiced in the streets after reports of Osama Bin Laden’s killing were in sin. Christians with godly love would not have been in those crowds.
What is cursing?
Well, if love is hoping the best, the opposite is to hope the worst for someone. Often times we hope that bad things will happen to our enemies or to people we envy (because of our pride) — this is not of God. When we speak evil of our neighbors and loved ones, whether in person or behind their back, it’s considered cursing.
Cursing is defined in the bible as: Speaking evil against someone, wishing misfortune on someone. A verbal curse was and still is considered to possess power of carrying itself into effect. There are two levels of cursing. The first level is to simply wish evil on someone and then to verbalize it, and the second level is when you go to demonic forces to ask for aid in carrying out your wishes (malediction). Many people do both.
Examples of cursing in the bible:
- God curses all snakes, Satan and the earth, making it hard to cultivate food in response to the disobedience of Adam, Eve, and Satan’s trickery (Gen 3:14-18).
- Balak, king of the Moabites, pays Balaam, to curse Israel because he was afraid of them (Numbers 22-24). It never worked because God blessed them.
- Noah passes out from drinking wine, his son, Ham, finds him naked and (in disrespect) tells everyone about it. Noah finds out and curses Ham’s
childrenson, but blesses his other two sons for covering up his nakedness (Gen 9:20-27).
Modern day cursing
- Spouse to spouse: “don’t nobody want you.”
- Pastor to sheep: “If you leave my church, misfortune will come upon you.”
- Pastor to sheep: “you’re going to hell!”
- Parents to child: “you’re stupid! dumb!”
- “Their marriage isn’t going to make it.”
Why is cursing wrong?
First, God created us in his image (Gen 1:27). God spoke the world into existence (Gen 1:24). Since we were made in the image of God, we have that same power to speak things into existence as God does. What we say may not manifest instantly but it can come to past. This is why God tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof (Prov 18:21). What we say about ourselves and others is able to come to pass bringing either life or death, therefore we shouldn’t speak evil against anyone or ourselves.
And Jesus said:
That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Matt 5:22).
Fool defined: dull, stupid, godless, worthless
Raca defined: empty head, imbecile, moron
Here, out of anger, Jesus is telling us not to call our brother or sister a fool, because words have power, they hurt and they damage. The word continues to say:
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude [likeness] of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:9-10).
So were strongly encouraged in scripture not to speak evil of people for two reasons: 1) because we’re made in the image of God, and 2) our cursing can bring about death.
Dealing with curses
Any study of psychology will tell you that people who often get told negative things by their parents, peer groups, bosses, pastors and teachers have much trouble in life if they don’t overwrite the negativity (curses) that were spoken over them.
Curses are able to take root and affect someone’s life because the person ignorantly believes what was communicated to them usually at a young age and with no contrary truth. The word tells us this is true: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners (1 Cor 15:33).
To remedy the curse it takes a transformation of the mind and the truth (Rom 12:2). So what should you do if you know of people who’ve been cursing you? Do what Jesus commanded:
Love your enemies, bless those who curse you (Matthew 5:43-44). Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14-15). Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
As Christians we’re protected by Jesus from curses. Notice what Jesus said above. If and when they curse you, “bless them.” He says nothing else because curses have no power over us; and not only that, we get a blessing from God for blessing our enemies.
The story of Balaam and Israel is a perfect example that curses don’t work on God’s people. However, I believe that if we practice sin we won’t be blessed and the result will be negative, but I cannot consider it a curse, merely the results of sin.
As with Balaam who wasn’t able to verbally curse Israel, he devised a way for them to lose the protection of God by getting them to mingle with the foreign Moabite women which caused them to fall into adultery and idolatry. This is the same tactic the devil uses on Christians, he can’t have people curse us, but he persuade us to sin. It’s up to us to avoid sin and stay protected.
I also believe that the protection of Christ comes from actually believing he protects us. This war is in the mind, if you don’t believe Christ protects you, the devil can take advantage of that.
Finally because of what Jesus did on the cross, the doctrine of Generational Curses is a lie and doesn’t apply to the born again believer. I can imagine that curses work on non-believers because witch doctors and people the like wouldn’t continue to dabble in malediction to this day, but as for the Christian, being a child of God is all the protection we need.
No bad words mentioned
You should note that in none of the biblical examples of cursing did it mention the use of “bad words” as the problem. In other words: there is no scripture in the bible says, “thou shalt not saith, motherfucker.” God never attributed sin to specific words. God attributed sin to any collection of words used to speak evil against someone. Ignorantly, Christians take scriptures like James and others out of context thinking they mean we shouldn’t say certain words. What most Christians claim to abstain from is vulgarity rather than actual cursing.
What is vulgarity?
Vulgarity comes from the late word: vulgāritās which means commonness, the public. Also meaning: coarseness, crudeness, rudeness, impoliteness.
Word History — Vulgar is an example of pejoration, the process by which a word develops negative meanings over time. The ancestor of vulgar, the Latin word vulgāris (from vulgus, “the common people”), meant “of or belonging to the common people, everyday,” as well as “belonging to or associated with the lower orders, “common (of vocabulary),” and “shared by all.” What is common may be seen as debased, and in the 17th century we begin to find instances of vulgar that make explicit what had been implicit. Vulgar then came to mean “deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement.” From such uses vulgar has continued to go downhill, and at present “crudely indecent” is among the commonest senses of the word. Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/vulgar#ixzz25NBfp0aU
In other words, the rich elite decided to separate themselves from the common folk by purposely moving away from the commoner’s simple, shorted-worded and explicit language. In the elite’s arrogance, they then demonized their words replacing them with more sophisticated (usually more syllabled) words which were also implicit. As society progressed and everyone wanted to see themselves as “higher status”, they adopted the elite’s mindset further making certain words “bad”, crude, and disrespectful; and anyone using them were frowned upon.
This is why someone who “cusses” a lot (who uses common, simple, and old, explicit language) is considered unintelligent not having an expanded vocabulary as the smarter elite. This is nothing more than, what is best labeled “linguistic snobbery.” This is also why some feel dirty after listening to or saying certain words because the elite deemed the common folk as filthy and dirty.
Because many children are scolded by their parents for using these words, they grow up with a strong conviction often becoming offended when they hear them or feeling bad when they’re caught using them. This is so much so that TV sensors certain words, the court may fine you, and you may lose your job for saying them. As Christians, we have made these words sinful and then align scriptures that have nothing to do with language to validate our social convictions. Saying bad words is a social sin, not a sin against God.
Vulgarity in the Bible
If vulgar speech is a sin then the translators of the King James bible and God have some explaining to do. Check out this verse:
But Rabshakeh said unto them, … Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? (2 Kings 18:27).
Here, piss means urine obviously, but folks in the UK label this word as vulgar and sinful to say by some Christians. We can also talk about the word, “ass”, “damn”, “sodomite”, “dung” (which is slang for excrement) all of which are offensive and considered sinful to say, but are found in the Holy Word of God. So once again, saying bad words is a social sin, not a sin against God.
Why do people use vulgarity?
Well, some use it out of rebellion to the tailored speech of the elite, some out of not knowing any other “sanitized” word to describe their situation, and some of out of explicit communication. Vulgarity has and will always be the most explicit (which means: to-the-point, exact) communication there is.
When a person mistakenly slams their head on a low ceiling, what do most exclaim? That base, simple, one syllable word they know expresses the pain they’re experiencing at that moment. That is just common language — there is nothing sinful about it.
The problems with linguistic snobbery
This demonization of certain words and those who use them is just the beginning. Beyond that, this snobbery expands into a whole new style of language — kind of like Jamaican Patwah (Patois) — it sounds like english but not readily understood.
This new language is indirect, watered-down — an implicit way of communication that often times requires interpretation. It’s full of insinuation and double talk. You find this language among lawyers, politicians, salesmen, in contracts, corporate environments, those who consider themselves “higher” and lukewarm preachers. Personally, I consider this kind of language demonic and not of God.
I’m not saying people of God should start using certain words that most people find offensive to get their points across more clearly, I’m just saying that this evasive, convoluted, sugar-coated, indirect style of language is not of God and how we should communicate. If you read the bible, the Lord is always clear, direct and to the point — we should be the same. Paul said:
Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech (2 Cor 3:12).
It is the devil who insinuates and who hides behind layers of complex wording. Why? Because the devil is a liar. Notice what lawyers, politicians, salesmen and lukewarm preachers all have in common: most of them are liars.
On a related note: If you ever see Joel Osteen attempt to answer a direct question about God’s view of homosexuality, you’ll see this kind of language in action — watered down, sugar-coated, won’t-answer-the-question-directly-kind-of-talk. The people of God mustn’t speak this way. God is clear, God is open, God is direct and God doesn’t hide.
Cursing without ever using a curse word
This bad language is used to manipulate people into making agreements that are not in their favor. This bad language is used to curse, demean, disrespect and verbally abuse others more easily, while allowing the user to feel like a good person because they never used explicit language, and disabling the victim’s ability to protest because they cannot point to any vulgar words or clear cut evil because everything was insinuated and implied allowing the victimizer to say, “Well, you just misinterpreted what I said.”
This bad language allows people to curse without ever using a “curse” word. This evil style of communication hides behind tastefulness and decency while vilifying bold, direct and explicit communication. For all those who use this kind of language to hurt others: you’re in sin and God knows what you’re saying. He knows the spirit behind your words however sanitized in the social circle they may seem.
Please understand: I’m NOT saying that those who don’t “cuss” or use bad words are in sin. I’m saying the adoption of this kind of language beyond the abstinence of certain words will become a problem as you try to proclaim the truth of the bible, but especially I have a problem with wicked Christians who use this language to justify themselves while cursing others.
My point is: I’m tired of Christians calling something that is not sin sin while totally giving a free pass to what is actually sin. And what is that sin again: double talk, insinuation, speaking evil over a person (cursing), lying and gossiping. To all Christians: you’re not holy in your speech life just because you don’t use “bad words”. Don’t get pricked in your spirit when you hear “bad words”. Get pricked in your spirit when you tell lies, gossip and curse people — these are the things you’ll be judged for. Jesus said:
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matt 12:36).
Should Christians say “bad” words?
Well, as we’ve seen in scripture and now knowing the origin of vulgarity, there is no reason to stop if you do use vulgarity, and there is no reason to start if you don’t. Words in themselves are not sinful, it’s the context, the intent and the spirit behind them that should be the concern.
However, God says that we should live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). The love scripture says that “love doesn’t behave itself unseemly”, that means “rudely” (1 Cor 13:5). So if using vulgarity is considered rude behavior, if it brings about an unsettling to some, if it offends certain people, we shouldn’t use certain words around them out of love.
If you have a godly conviction aside from a social conviction about certain words, then don’t use them. I can understand, for some, certain words trigger sinful behavior and awaken the old man, therefore they shouldn’t be spoken. However, this is to be determined by that person and the Lord.
Some may find liberty in using these words now knowing that they aren’t sinful, but the word says to be careful:
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to them that are weak (1 Cor 8:9).
So this applies to those friends of yours who have godly convictions, it’s best not to use certain words for fear of causing them to stumble back into their old ways.
Don’t place your convictions on others
This brings to mind my next point. I once knew a legalistic dude who told us that drinking liquor and alcoholic beverages was a sin, but this isn’t what the bible says. God tells us not to get drunk. However, God told him to stay away from strong drink because of his past drunkenness, unless he fall again. It was a conviction given to him, and not to others, yet he was placing his convictions on others. Likewise with the use of vulgar language, you cannot place your convictions on others. Here’s what the word says:
1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations [debate / arguments]. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth [only] herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:1-4)
This scripture can apply to many things especially this topic. In this passage, the one who can eat all things is the one who occasionally uses vulgarity. The other who is weak may be the one who has a social conviction and believes that no Christian should be using vulgarity and that it is a sin. The word says that neither man should despise or judge the other for God has accepted them both. In other words, respect each other’s conviction and don’t place yours on others.
What is God really saying about our speech?:
- Don’t curse people (speak evil against them).
- Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall (Prov 24:17-18).
- Don’t tell lies because all liars have their part in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8).
- Don’t gossip because love covers, and God will cut off the gossiper (Psalm 101:5).
- Don’t be implicit, but be clear and direct when you communicate (2 Cor 3:12).
The word says again:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Eph 4:29).
Gist of this message:
- Don’t think that you’re holy in your speech life just because you don’t curse.
- You may be guilty of cursing and not even know it.
- Christians confuse cursing with vulgarity.
- Vulgarity is a social sin and not a biblical sin.
- Cursing your fellow man is a sin against God.
- Words are not evil in themselves, it’s the context and the spirit behind them.
- Know the origin of your convictions before assuming it’s a biblical and godly conviction
- If you’re convicted about vulgarity, don’t use it, but don’t place your convictions on others.
- If others find these words offensive, don’t use them when around them.
- We are to guard against the real sins: lying, gossip, and speaking evil of men (cursing)
Truth has become the new hate speech.
As time draws to an end, the gospel and Jesus Christ have become vulgar and offensive. We mustn’t compromise or be manipulated by those who would use the scriptures to say we’re not being loving Christians because of our harsh message and stance.
Let’s hope for the best for everyone including ourselves and hoping the best includes hoping that our enemies repent and turn to Christ. Let’s speak positive words over our lives and others. Let’s stop lying and tell the truth. Let’s cover the faults of others rather than gossip. Let’s be more direct in our communication and let’s preach the gospel no matter what.