Is Swearing Sinful?
Swearing is an interesting question, and one about which Christians need to be careful we don’t grab the wrong end of the stick.
Because for many people in our society, Christianity is just about rules, and what you can and can’t say. Many people think that Christians are hung up on what words we can and can’t say. And they think this too often because of the way we respond to (or speak about) swearing.
We need to remember that swearing is cultural, and not Christian. The particular words that are designated “swear words” changes over time, according to our chaining culture. (as a side note, the political correctness movement is in many respects just defining a new generation of swear words – think of a whole range of new swear words). The words we consider to be swear words today were commonly used, were replaced by more polite words in higher society, and then disapproval of them filtered down. These forbidden words then get used in new ways, often divorced from their original meaning.
So what does this mean for Christians?
It means the words themselves are often not that important. They are just words (even if words actually have power). Christians should be more concerned about the intent of words.
Why do people swear?
Frequently, to express anger.
As an intensifier for insults or anger.
To make someone or something an object of ridicule or scorn.
To gain a laugh at someone else’s expense.
To bully or intimidate someone.
A Christian’s concern should not be so much about the words themselves, but the intent behind them, whether swearing is involved or not.
Think for a moment about the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Can you pick a situation in which you exhibit any of these things while swearing?
And that is exactly the same for speech which doesn’t include swearing.
Are we honouring God with our speech, whether swearing or not? This is the issue we need to focus on, not on whether we use a forbidden word or not.
Let love be our guide, and not a list of what our culture today considers bad words.