"Bad" words

Here I’m speaking only of “bad four letter words” like the s-word, the f-word, etc. I’m not talking about using the name of God.

There seems to be a general consensus that it is sinful to use such words. If so, in what sense? What commandment is it breaking and in what sense is it breaking that commandment?

When I see people explain this as a sin, they usually cite certain verses in the Bible about “impure speech” and so on but I don’t think you can make something sinful on the basis of a Bible verse and I don’t see what makes “impure speech” any more sinful than playing in a pile of mud.

As a disclaimer, I know there are a lot of people around here that automatically ascribe the asking of a question with the pushing of a position, but I really couldn’t care less about this either way. Admittedly, these words do not infuriate me as they do some people, but I don’t use them much, either. I just want to understand the concept behind this.

I have never thought of those words as sinful. Crude? Yes. Vulgar? Yes. But sinful??

Wow. How far our culture has fallen that we actually have to debate this!

Read Ephesians Chapter 4 or Matthew Chapter 12:

34 Brood of vipers, how could you speak to good effect, wicked as you are? It is from the heart’s overflow that the mouth speaks; 35 a good man utters good words from his store of goodness, the wicked man, from his store of wickedness, can utter nothing but what is evil. 36 And I say this, that in the day of judgement men will be brought to account for every thoughtless word they have spoken. 37 Thy words will be matter to acquit, or matter to condemn thee.

Same thing with me, I was taught that the words were wrong based on being vulgar and not the type of language you should get into a habit of speaking. My parents never cussed or swore around us as kids and didn’t allow us to so I never got into the habit of using such words, only occasionally when I’m really really really mad about something or someone. :blush: And it takes a lot to get me to that place where a word like that comes out. But cuss words are not a part of my every day vocabulary. Plus most places frown on using cuss words or swear words and we’re not allowed to use words like that at my job so it’s just not a part of my vocabulary. If others say small cuss words it doesn’t bother me but a long string of foul obscenities and big long compound cuss words offend me like MF and things like that. One thing I really really really hate to hear is when people put the word holy in front of cuss words. I. hate. that.


As someone known to have a potty mouth every so often, I question the whole “bad” word thing too. I never, ever use the Lord’s name in vain but I do throw the f-bomb around sometimes, usually after I do something stupid, or after an accident, etc. It’s meaningless in itself. But you shouldn’t use them in social situations or near children. “Cursing” however is another matter. It is a sin when “bad” words are used to wish evil upon another. As far as “impure” speech is concerned, it goes to content.

Concerning Ephesians, “wickedness” IMHO goes to content also. Really, what’s “evil” about a four-letter word for fecal matter? “Thoughtless” speech? Maybe you hurt someone unintentionally. I guess that would be a venial sin of some sort. If you’re not cursing God, or hurting your neighbor, why then would a “bad” word be “bad”?

Okay, I’m certainly not perfect, I struggle with my language at times. But the problem with using vulgar speech, like s**t, is that it indicates dissatisfaction with the way things are going. We are to give thanks in everything, and if we’re going around swearing about what happens, we’re not appreciative of what God may be doing in our lives.
So for example, someone cuts me off, rather than swearing at the idiot, we could be praying for his safety if he’s driving carelessly. Or if I hit my finger with a hammer, maybe God is teaching me patience?
I can’t see Jesus letting a four letter word loose when he slipped up in carpentry; although maybe he would shake his head in frustration.
Not saying I live up to my own standards, but I’m working on it.:slight_smile:

You might want to try reading James chapter 3:

If you use your mouth to receive the Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ then I think you should really try to control the words that come out of your mouth.

As you say, so you are.

Remember that we are to detest sin not for our own sake, but because if offends God.

You could take a look at dropping the f-bomb and then deem the action minor and no consequence on the subjective level. But using the word itself is not the sin, you have to relate the action to how God would view it.

Would you use that word in the presence of Jesus ?

Think about it.

Thanks for your input. Does anyone else agree with Phemie?

It’s difficult for me to interpret that post in any way that is not rude or condescending. :shrug:

Same thing as Phemie?

I was taught that the words were wrong based on being vulgar and not the type of language you should get into a habit of speaking.

Very similar here, I have used such words on rare occasions. But generally, I do not use them because I know that some people simply don’t like them and I want those people to feel comfortable around me. However that would make the use (or non-use) of these words a matter of etiquette, like using your salad fork for salad and your dinner fork for dinner. There are people that are not bothered by those types of words, so if it’s only a matter of etiquette then there would be no problem using those words in those situations.

Ah, yes. You said that you use “the f-bomb” after you “do something stupid.” That is not an uncommon behavior, in my experience. Some may prefer other “4 letter words” over the “f-bomb” but it is frequently uttered in such instances.

So now many, many different people, under the impression that these words are sinful, have adopted alternate words. For example, I knew a guy who used to exclaim, “fudge!” or “shoot!” when frustrated/angry/etc. in the same manner one might exclaim the well-known 4 letter words.

Cutting to the heart of the matter here—IF the f-word and s-word, etc. are sinful to use, would “fudge!” or “shoot” or other variants be just as sinful? Are people claiming that it is sinful to exclaim any word at all in frustration/irritation? Or are these 4 letter words somehow different than “fudge!”/“shoot”/etc.?

To come back to the question underlying this thread, if “bad” words are sinful—why are they sinful? What is the principle at work here?

Ironically, the answer given there is exactly what I’m complaining about.

Let’s review…

Steve O’Brien says:

[quote=Steve O’Brien]You’re assuming the truth of what you have to prove. You have to prove that the use of four-letter words is a sin, and you haven’t done so…


JButky’s response:

JM3, which part of that do you consider an answer?

He merely asserts that Steve O’Brien has a self-control issue, asserts that he is arrogant, asserts that he is always proud, and asserts that the fact that it is a sin is obvious.

Where I come from, that’s the opposite of an answer. In fact, it’s worse than not answering at all… it’s obfuscating the real question.

Here’s the thing: You’re doing your carpentry work. You hit yourself with a hammer, OK? How long is it between your perception of the pain and the expletive? One second, two maybe? There’s no time to cogitate on your relationship with God. Maybe after you put a bandage on, you say “I probably should not have said that expletive. Saint X wouldn’t have said that. I won’t do it next time.” But in that instant immediately after the hit, there’s not much time for logical thought et voilà! You’ve said it!

I’m pretty sure that all of Jesus’ nail strikes with a hammer were perfect. :wink:

Four letter words do not offend me and I’ve always been confused as to whey they are such a big deal to so many people. I see no intricate evil in words but more in thought. There isn’t one of these “bad words” that you couldn’t say the same thing using other words that would be “acceptable”. So it isn’t the substance that offends but just particular ways of saying them.

Having said that, I avoid them because they offend others but I often think them in my mind.

So you are stating that on instinct the first thing you do is cuss in this situation. Then the question goes back to your character.

Let’s say that another person who never cusses or swears hits themselves with the hammer and says “ouch” sucks in his breath and then giggles at himself. And then life goes on.

You say there is no time to cogitate. That may be true so when there is no time to consider your relationship to God it goes back to habit.

There may be something to your answer, but it’s layered under a lot of condescension.

I have struggled with “foul language” for years. I started using the words to prove to peers that I wasn’t a goody-goody in my teens. Then the words were a habit and I said them a lot. That toned down with some effort, especially after I had kids. But when I’m angry, they are the first words I go to.

So yes, it’s a habit, a habit from poor choices. But habits can also mitigate culpability in the case of sinful ones. I grew up with an angry father who raged at us using those words, and around peers who used them a lot (and made fun of you if you didn’t). That’s a lot different than someone who’s grown up learning to be careful with their vocabulary.

In general, I think using words like that as part of everyday speech is lazy, and crude - and disrespectful if it’s done in mixed company. But I doubt that every single utterance is sinful.

As I understand it, the S word and F word both have anglo saxon roots, and during someone’s invasion of somewhere during some world war, that was really looked down upon. So though the equivalent of the F word is “to copulate”, the F word became bad because of it’s cultural roots. Same as why “poop” is okay to say, but the S word, generally less so.

It’s an inherited cultural distaste. That’s why it certain parts of Europe, those words are said like nothing, because to them, they really are nothing. It’s a cultural taboo that they are cuss words.

Ah, my mistake. German* roots, not anglo saxon.

I had potty mouth in my college days but then came to realize that it had a lot to do with pride and selfishness. We must take into account how our words touch others. Is anyone put off, offended, embarassed or disturbed by my choice of words? The impact they have on others is more imporant than my selfish whim or inclinations to use them.

Anglo-Saxon does have German roots.

A member of one of the Germanic peoples, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, who settled in Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries.

Good conversation. As with many issues, there are some people who to one extreme and some who go to another extreme.

But that aside, there’s one thing I can think of to say that hasn’t already been said: personally, I find very tiresome when people use the excuse that “It doesn’t mean anything.” Call it a pet peeve of mine. :cool:

IIRC, I’ve also heard that “those kinds of words” are more Saxon and less Anglo.

Common excuse.



I’m a sinner, but it’s clear we need to watch our tongue.


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