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soap in mouth cussingWhen I first became a Christian I had a bad mouth. I am thankful that over time God worked to change my heart, and as a result, my mouth. I knew right away that talking in a particular way was offensive to God and others. It does not have a place among those professing faith in Christ because it does not give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). This is pretty straightforward.

But, I’ve noticed that many Christians are still plagued by a foul mouth. They say things that are offensive to God and to others. I suspect that many don’t even realize it either. Like a new convert who remains fluent in the sailor’s tongue the Christian may not realize what they are saying or its theological impact.

So let me give you a couple of 4 letter words that Christians should mortify with quickness: “luck” and “fate”. These words and their concepts are unbiblical and atheistic. Luck communicates randomness while fate describes a inevitability of something happening without a purpose. Both are blind and impersonal.

Undermining & Obscuring who God is

I say they are Christian cuss words because they undermine the key biblical doctrine of God’s providence. This word providence may be a new word for you, but it is an important word. It is a word that we as Christians need to know and delight in. We are often so quick to simplify and redefine words, but in doing so we can be losing something of our identity as Christians. At one time this word was so prevalent that people named cities and churches after it! This is a very important word.

What does it mean? Providence is God’s infinite power that upholds and governs all things that come to pass.

As the Heidelberg Catechism says,

“God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures and so governs them so that: leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed all things, come to us not by change but by his fatherly hand.”

The main things you need to know about this is that God is not disconnected from what is happening in the world today. There is no such thing as chance or luck or fate or karma. Rather, God is upholding, governing, and ordering all things as with his very hand.

“Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3)

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” (Ephesians 1:11)

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30)

As Charles Spurgeon observed,

There is just this difference between fate and providence. Fate is blind; providence has eyes. Fate is blind, a thing that must be; it is just an arrow shot from a bow, that must fly onward, but hath no target. Not so, providence; providence is full of eyes. There is a design in everything, and an end to be answered; all things are working together, and working together for good. They are not done because they must be done, but they are done because there is some reason for it. It is not only that the thing is, because it must be; but the thing is, because it is right it should be. God hath not arbitrarily marked out the world’s history; he had an eye to the great architecture of perfection, when he marked all the aisles of history, and placed all the pillars of events in the building of time.

Am I Splitting Hairs?

Some might say, “Why are you nitpicking? Why squabble about these things?”

The answer is simple, we serve a precise God. He is to get glory in all that we do. And this includes how we think and speak about him. If we are saying things attack, undermine, blur or otherwise detract from a truth that God means to get glory from—shouldn’t we stop? Don’t you want to stop these things?

If you get a new job, is this God’s providence or a lucky break? Do you think the God who orders and upholds all things means to get glory from the new job? What about when someone’s disease clears up or is healed? Is this luck? No! It is God who smiled upon them.

God Actually Counts Hairs

God is involved in the details of life. He is the God who said that he numbers every hair on your head (Mt. 10:30). As Spurgeon noted, even the most committed of earthly moms can’t pull this off. He’s right. Go ahead and walk to the nursery this Sunday at church. Ask the Moms about how many teeth their children have. Ask them if they are crawling or trying to walk. They will give you a quick and clear answer. Then ask them how many hairs are on their heads. They will laugh. No one knows this. But friends, God does. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. He is the God who upholds and governs all things; he orders the cosmos and knows the number of hairs on your head. God is intricately involved with the affairs of your life.

We mustn’t dare to carelessly speak in terms of fate or luck. These are offensive and insulting terms that Christians should cast into the sea along with other inappropriate speech that characterizes our immaturity. And as we throw them overboard, remember to delight in the truth of God’s providence and the God who upholds and governs as with his very hand.

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30 thoughts on “Christians Need to Stop Cussing”

  1. Chuckt says:

    Even the word “Jerk” is mild profanity. This is too wide a topic because the Bible is full of Bible verses.
    I do appreciate the believer who does stand up for Christians and curse because they will stand up for me in the Christian realm whereas other Christians who don’t curse won’t defend me. And you have to understand that there are evil people in this world whom we need to be delivered from so thank God for the ones who do curse.

  2. JoAnn Otto says:

    my pastor use to teach us–it is like having on a white, beautiful shirt and chewing tobacco runs out of you mouth on to it..
    That has always stuck with me, just not a pure mouth when cuss words slip out.. thank you for that articicle..

  3. Chuckt says:

    I was actually thinking about the imperfectly written article in the Blaze about persecution and we need to give Christians who curse a job in sticking up for persecuted Christians because they are the only ones with the guts to say what needs to be said:

    Here’s What You Can Do About The Persecution of Christians: Stop Being a Lazy Coward

  4. Chris A says:

    Thanks for the article. I came across a quote by RC Sproul the other day which presents the chance (luck/fate) vs. God argument. Dr. Sproul states, “If chance exists in any shape, size, or form, God cannot exist. The two are mutually exclusive. If chance existed, it would destroy God’s sovereignty. If God is not sovereign, he is not God. If he is not God, he simply is not. If chance is, God is not. If God is, chance is not.” (Hanegraaff 1998, p.61) If scripture states that God does everything according to the council of his will (Eph. 1:11), then there is no place for chance. This also means that there is no cause for fear or alarm, either in adversity or in salvation. The God who saves us is the God who will carry us, and the God who will bring us all the way home. (Rom. 8) Thank you again for the article.

    1. Kelly Keith Dunn says:

      Excellent response!

  5. Eric says:

    Agreed. I do believe the terms luck and fate are used because they are an outpouring of the heart. What has gotten in there is belief in the false god of luck or fate because of listening to the world. These gods are worshiped when we speak of ourselves as being blessed by the god “luck”. Or by the gods of “fate”. These gods are false Gods and idols by which we believe we can have good circumstances in accordance with our own will. We will have to forsake that and follow the Lord.

  6. Aaron Schroeder-Tabah says:

    As I read the title of the article I thought to myself “not interesting, but I wonder why someone from tgc is talking about this… I guess I’ll read.” I was more than pleasantly surprised. God’s sovereignty is the subject of my cell group tonight. There is no such thing as luck! Thank you very much!

  7. Susan Strickland says:

    The above is the least of our worries: I would prefer that Christians stop using the Lord’s name in vain.

  8. Shane says:

    Wow, way to take a comforting verse about God’s intimate knowledge of and deep care for us, and use it to paint Him as an insecure bean counter who’s high aspirations for us include ensuring our speech always maintaining the correct doctrinal nuances. Yes, yes, God is of course sovereign and providential in ways we likely cannot imagine. I would love to read an article about that! … but surely there are better ways have that discussion than focusing on such painful drivel. I don’t mean to offend: rather I hope to prompt some more worth-while discussions. This reads like an article written for an evangelical paycheck.

    1. Erin says:

      My sentiments exactly. Thank you! Not trusting in God’s sovereignty is an issue for sure and it’s harmful for us. However, we can use common words with a wide semantic range without it revealing some deep distrust of God. This is one of those pointless, extra rules I feel we should steer clear of burdening people with.

  9. Bob Howard says:

    This is some damn good insight!

  10. Yoni says:

    Sorry, I just need to be a descending voice about this article. First of all, the article stated that it was about profanity, But, in truth, it was about God’s providence, and making a compelling case why the words “luck” and “fate” shouldn’t be used by Christians. (As a side note, many Christians understand “fate” to be a clear statement of God’s providence – things are fated to happen because they are in God’s will.) I won’t bother arguing about the “luck” debate. It’s enough to quote Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

    On the topic of profanity, the approach was remarkably unbiblical. Our struggle is to distinguish our cultural norms from a biblical ethic. In this respect, the article was lacking – quoting only one verse (Eph. 4:29), and then proceeding to misapply it. For those who struggle with overcoming unwholesome speak, it is a stumbling block for me to use it casually. For purposes of light heartedness, worldliness, or course joking, it is sinful for me to employ profanity. But, beyond those bounds, I don’t believe there is a biblical grounds for saying all ‘profanity’ is forbidden. For one thing, each culture, time, and place determine what is even defined as profanity. Shakespeare was accused of being a scoundrel for continually using “zounds” and “sblood” in his works. How does it make you feel when you see me using those words?

    In my opinion, there are times (usually in a one-on-one conversation with someone I know will not be stumbled by it) when there is no more appropriate way to express something that to use profanity. It has a way of expressing harsh, but true-to-life terms what is really going on. I’m not alone in my use of it – since the Apostle Paul used the impact (some would say ‘shock value’) of using what was a quite profane word in his time/place/culture “σκυβαλον” (skubalon) in Philippians 3:8. I recognize that there is a scholarly debate about how this should be best translated (it could range anywhere from “table scraps” to the profane term we use for human excrement), but you would be hard-pressed to make a case that Paul was not going for a harsh, even shocking term with an impact on the reader to illustrate his point. Furthermore, the use of these kinds of terms (strong language in proper context) does not seem to be prohibited by scripture.

    I’m opened to hearing from those who disagree with this position. Thank you.

    1. Kelly Keith Dunn says:

      I respect your “opinion”. However, in my “opinion” I disagree with your “dismissal” of this article – granted, you may not agree with my term “dismissal”, but that is the way your response read to me. – my opinion of course. My main problem is that professing Christisn can be so thoughtless in the way talk in every day life.

      1. Yoni says:

        I respect your opinion that my response was a dismissal. It wasn’t meant that way. I was simply bringing an opposing viewpoint to the discussion. May you can reread my response and point to where I encouraged thoughtless use of profanity in every day life. It seems like my point was just the opposite of that – stating that there may certain occasions when that kind of language communicates and idea in a way that ordinary talk doesn’t. Also, I’d encourage you to be careful referring to people as “professing Christians,” somehow implying that the use of profanity somehow negates the atonement one has received in Jesus’ blood. Maybe a good approach to take would be to point out using scripture where my statements were wrong.

  11. Kim says:

    This is a well written article and made several points that will change how I think.
    I can’t see how the first three “thought” were about
    the same article that I read. Did you even read the article or just the title?

  12. Mike says:

    An eloquent job of trying to justify sin Yoni, but try this:

    There is more than one reference in the bible to our weakness in controlling our mouth.

    1. Yoni says:

      Hi Mike. I would call that an eloquent job at a back-handed compliment. What I was hoping for was a meaningful and thoughtful discussion about the issue at hand. What you offered instead was a link, showing the work that someone else had done. You also, in a sort of haughty way, implied my motivation was trying to justify sin. Then you eloquently finished your comment by pointing to scriptures about ‘our weakness in controlling our mouth,’ which I take to be a different topic altogether. My comment was not about an out of control or angry tongue – it was about the intentional use of what we call ‘profanity’ in the right setting, only with people that you believe won’t be stumbled by it.

      My challenge for you, Mike, and the rest of my brothers and sisters in the Lord reading an article like this, is to step outside of your cultural constructs, and into a transcendent reading of scripture. Take the time to look up one or two or three of the references from your link and actually show me where intentionally using a strong word in the appropriate setting, with a person you don’t believe will be stumbled, is sin. I don’t think scripture teaches such a concept. What I take issue with is that culture understandings and preferences often trump truth – and we end up creating rules and regulations about sin where there are no such rules or regulations. Quite simply, we become little Christian Pharisees, adept at pointing out where others are “trying to justify sin.”

  13. Paul says:

    How about preachers and other church leaders stop using the Lord’s name in vain, i.e.: “The Lord told me…” “Jesus told me…”

  14. chris says:

    There is a danger here or making yourself crazy. Also there are non Christians who may get offended by you being offended by bad words. I use to be on of those people who heard a Christian say “I don’t cuss cause of God” and I kinda went “what a lame God.” I was put off for a while. Jesus cussed though too and used profane language. The bible doesn’t seem to go against it. Discernment perhaps is key.

  15. RR says:

    I have seen something else under the sun: the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.

  16. Adrian says:

    I appreciate this insight-filled article, Sir Erik. I unexpectedly encountered “luck” and “fate” here when I expected well-known cuss words. I hope soon you will cover those overused words, because I’ve observed that some Christians still cuss, swear, or profane; and it’s somehow disappointing. Your piece’s title is right. God bless you!

  17. ryan says:

    I thought this article was about cussing. Way to through a curveball by making it about God’s sovereignty (and I cherish that doctrine). Next time just call it what it is please. (That is one of the few things I like about a little cussing, it is calling the bad things bad. Calling reality like it is; if it is being used appropriately.)

  18. Stephanie says:

    I so appreciate this. As a new believer, an older sister pointed out to me that I didn’t have cause to be superstitious any more and I gave up the concept of luck. Although the beautiful story is too long and detailed, this small point ended up to be a huge factor when I was witnessing to my dad. He made the comment, “Aren’t we lucky?” I said, “How about if we say ‘blessed’ so we can have someone to thank?” He replied, “Luck is just an acronym for Laboring Under Correct Knowledge.” So, while it wasn’t a sovereignty issue in his case, it was a SELF issue and I was later able to point back to that conversation to help him see his self-deceptive, self-reliance and refusal to be thankful to a God he acknowledged existed (Romans 1:21) which put him in a downward spiral of sin of which he repented thoroughly and became a new man in Christ. To think, God used my contention with the little word “luck” to change a life profoundly. Glory to God!

  19. Cindy says:

    This article is very naive to say the least. You say God orders everything that happens? No I don’t think so. He allows things to happen, just as he allowed Adam and Eve to sin. That was not HIS plan. That is not what HE wanted! God has/had a perfect plan and will for this earth, but sin/evil/hate has distorted it. When a person decides to drink and drive and subsequently kill your innocent toddler in your car, DID GOD ORDER THAT? NO way. A sick, sin filled person made a poor choice that caused the death of my precious child. Could God have orchestrated it to be different? Of course. Could he have killed off the cells that created Hitler? Of course. He is almighty. He is all knowing. He is all powerful. But I don’t believe He is responsible for all the evil, hate and terrible accidents in this world. The saying “Everything happens for a reason” is a lie. Everything happens. YOU decide the reason. After a terrible tragedy happens to you – YOU decide how to move forward. You can become depressed, suicidal and kill yourself. Or you can pick yourself up, learn from it and do amazing things. BUT YOU have to decide what path you’re going to take. If I decide to kill myself, did GOD ordain that? GOD is good all the time. THE WORLD however is not.

  20. T says:

    What language do we recommend to those who study the mathematics of probability (which seem to be part of the natural order God has created)? Or to those who play games involving some element of “randomization” or “chance”?

    1. Erik Raymond says:

      “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:33, ESV)

  21. Jeremy says:

    Sure I would. Why not? They are just words. Words are just sounds we make until they are given meaning based on whatever society you live in. It’s society who decides the meaning generally. And in true Jewish thought it’s not the word that’s important but the function or meaning behind it. (remember, the authors were jewish and in their thinking function was central to their mindset)So it isn’t the word that’s bad…it’s the meaning behind it. If I say I F’ing hate that person. Then I’ve sinned. Not because I used the F word but because I had hate for my brother/sister. Wouldn’t matter what words I used, it’s the heart behind it.If I was to say I F’ing love this movie. That is not a sin. Because the function of the word has shifted. It’s no longer seen as unwholesome. (or in the original text the word would be used to describe something that tears down another)

    These words we believe are wrong are only wrong because society picked a few words to say are worse than other words. What happens when society changes? Or if you are in another society that doesn’t believe those words are offensive? Words also change with time. At one point scumbag was worse than the F-word now it’s nothing by today’s beliefs. Words themselves mean nothing…without the function or meaning behind them.That’s what matters. That’s what gives words power. The HEART of the meaning.I would welcome anyone to challenge these statements.

    I know some like to use Col. 3:8 to justify all cussing is bad but actually in the original greek “unwholesome” means Abusive language. Once again it comes down to the jewish mindset of function and meaning,

  22. Jeremy says:

    The problem is…our view on what words are bad are based entirely on our cultural upbringing. What is considered “Bad” here may not be somewhere else and visa versa. This is why when it talks about obscenity in the bible it’s not talking about words specifically but the heart behind them. That is after all what gives the sounds we make with our mouths meaning. Without meaning and context they are just sounds…it’s not until language (through context) do these sounds become meaning. And then those meanings change through out the centuries.

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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