Droping the F Bomb


#1

I was wondering what the official teaching is on swaring? Thanks.


#2

[quote=sadie2723]I was wondering what the official teaching is on swaring? Thanks.
[/quote]

These should help:

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a2.htm

catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/00MarApr/morality.html


#3

[quote=FCEGM]These should help:

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a2.htm

catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/00MarApr/morality.html
[/quote]

The link to the Catechism doesn’t appear to address the issue. The second link is perhaps interesting, but really just reflects the author’s point of view.

Personally, I believe there’s a place for four-lettered words, but one must be careful about the context in which they are used.


#4

I’ve not had a clear answer on this one. I’ve had people tell me I should go to confession for using profanity, but in all conscience I don’t feel I’ve sinned. Swearing AT someone to hurt them? Swearing around someone whom you KNOW is offended by it? Sure. I agree that’s sinful. But to let-fly with spicy language around the fellahs, or around those who only find it funny (or simply find it expressive), I can’t see the harm. I’ve heard a few priests swear over the years too.

Now blasphemy is a different matter. I never do it, and I take a dim view of it. It’s one of the Commandments, for goodness sakes! I find it bizarre how many Catholics think it’s OK to take the name of The Lord in vain.


#5

In lower school, when I went to a Catholic school, I got told that I should go to confession for swearing. At the beginning of high school I swore a lot, but its cut down to so little now that i dropped the F bomb the other day and like three of my friends turned and stared at me!


#6

[quote=JeffAustralia]I’ve not had a clear answer on this one. I’ve had people tell me I should go to confession for using profanity, but in all conscience I don’t feel I’ve sinned. Swearing AT someone to hurt them? Swearing around someone whom you KNOW is offended by it? Sure. I agree that’s sinful. But to let-fly with spicy language around the fellahs, or around those who only find it funny (or simply find it expressive), I can’t see the harm. I’ve heard a few priests swear over the years too.

Now blasphemy is a different matter. I never do it, and I take a dim view of it. It’s one of the Commandments, for goodness sakes! I find it bizarre how many Catholics think it’s OK to take the name of The Lord in vain.
[/quote]

I didn’t used to swear when I was younger, but I do more now. A friend of mine “introduced” me into some of the “cultural” language where people use bad language as communication medium as opposed to simply trying to be crude, and I began to see how arbitrary the whole thing is. It has opened it up so that I am able to communicate better with people of all different financial and social status than I used to – not so much that I have learned to use these words, but not to flinch and get all offended and emotional or at least have an awkward feeling when somebody else does. At this point I believe I am quite mortified in that it doesn’t offend of affect me anymore to hear somebody speaking with “colorful” language. Some might say this was a great loss for me and it was – a great portion of my judgmental, emotionally-triggered false self.

As far as usage of such words, I think it’s an issue of conscience and strategy to use such language judiciously. Used properly (not stupidly, awkwardly, or trying to impress somebody) these communication modes can endear people to each other or they can sever relationships. Some are likely to take me to task on this, but I think this new way of looking at it reconciles with St. Paul, in that I don’t believe the use of these words (uttering these syllables as opposed to those syllables to say the same thing) is not inherently sinful, and one can actually “blend in” around those one is trying to save – that said, when around people who are offended by such it behooves us not to cause scandal by their use.

As far as blaspheming and “taking the Lord’s name in vain,” I don’t quite understand what that means. The issue is that I don’t know what “vain” means in context. Does is mean that I am vain and think myself superior to God and therefore presume to have greater power? (never heard this interpretation before) Does it mean that we do not believe in God and say something that indicates such disbelief? Many people seem to think that using the “GD” bomb is the epitome and even definition of using the Lord’s name in vain – but the way I see it GD is actually a prayer form that is asking God to agree with us that there is a terrible situation afoot – given, of course, that it is not God himself we are condemning. Example: Christ cursed a fig tree and it withered up – when he cursed the tree was it in vain? Since he was God, he didn’t have to use the “GD” request so why is it OK for the boss’s son to curse something on the earth and watch it wither, if it isn’t for us? Perhaps the sin for us is that we would curse the tree without having sufficient faith for the tree to actually wither – therefore at our smaller faith level having used “God” as part of the request we had better not do it in “vain” (that is, knowing we don’t really expect God to actually do what we asked) but had better be very confident.

That last interpretation seems like the most logically plausible to me – don’t go around throwing God’s name into it unless you have sufficient faith to actually believe that what you are asking is to be done, and thus you avoid name-dropping God as a cheap emotional effect. This, however, could as easily be applied to many people who pray (with “nice” words) for things and have not the faith to believe their prayers will be answered. To me, calling upon God when you don’t really believe in Him is quite likely a sin according to this commandment. If you want Him to curse or bless or heal something, you had best speak to Him in faith and not just because “nothing else worked.”

Alan


#7

I agree to an extent - blasphemy against the Lord’s or our Lady’s name is flat out wrong.For other words (parts of the anatomy etc), I don’t think it does anyone any good to show disapproval. For one it just encourages those who do swear if they know it irritates you.

I think, though, with a bit of effort you can find language that is expressive enough and fits into any situation and any company without having to swear yourself.


#8

Despite all of these interesting justifications, the Church has graciously provided the faithful guidance on this subject. Cursing (swearing) has always been frowned upon by society as ugly language, causes scandal for all those who hear us swearing and know we are Catholic, and is a venial or grave sin, depending on the context. This is not my opinion, but that of the Church.

Here is an article, with the imprimatur, on cursing:

newadvent.org/cathen/04573d.htm

The Catechism explains what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. It means that we are to use the name of the Lord in all his persons and the names of the saints only in a respectful manner. That is why even ejaculating “Oh my G–!” is breaking the second commandment: if nothing else, it is certainly not respectful. Other misuses of the Lord’s name are also discussed in the Catechism.

See Catechism paragraphs 2142-2167 at:
usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt1art2.htm

That priests are sometimes heard cursing is a weak argument. Priests are also seen teaching against the Catholic Church, embezzling money, having homosexual affairs, and molesting children. Priests, even popes, are not impeccable.

When we examine our conscience before the Sacrament of Penance–which our Lord so generously established for us and which we should avail ourselves of often–we are to ask ourselves whether we used “profane language,” as seen in these examples:

From the 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal (not available online): “Have you . . . Taken the name of God in vain? Spoken irreverently of holy things or profaned anything related to religion? Sworn falsely, rashly, or in slight and trivial matters? Cursed yourself, or others, or any creature? Angered others so far as to make them swear, or blaspheme God?”

ewtn.com/library/YOUTH/CONFESS.TXT
keepingitcatholic.org/exam.html
catholicculture.org/lit/activities/view.cfm?id=423
themiracleofstjoseph.org/rev8133.html
domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19990101/SCRMNTL/kidsexam.htm


#9

[quote=TridentineFan]Despite all of these interesting justifications, the Church has graciously provided the faithful guidance on this subject. Cursing (swearing) has always been frowned upon by society as ugly language, causes scandal for all those who hear us swearing and know we are Catholic, and is a venial or grave sin, depending on the context. This is not my opinion, but that of the Church. . .
[/quote]

:tiphat: The coarsening of our culture is, of course, aided by such justifications. Not wanting to appear or to be “holier than thou” just adds another layer of self-deceit to our predilections to “go with the flow”.


#10

[quote=TridentineFan]That is why even ejaculating “Oh my G–!” is breaking the second commandment: if nothing else, it is certainly not respectful.
[/quote]

I’ve been wondering about “Oh my G–!”. It just slips out of my mouth when I hear something really bad or really good, etc. I’ve got to find something else to say.

Cursing is a venial sin. Everything can’t be specifically addressed in the CCC. For some things, you have to use your common sense. Cursing is just UGLY. Would Jesus drop the F bomb?

catholic.org/frz/examen/examen_venial.htm


#11

I appreciate others bringing the official teachings into play, because that’s what the OP asked.

It seems like I am gravitating to more of a “speak carefully but listen forgivingly” as a method. In other words, I think that in nearly all situations with nearly all people, one can get by without using such language.

That said, my own recent experiments with language has been fun and all but the most important thing that I think I learned was how to allow others to have their own language without trying to “fix” them or becoming personally offended when no offense was intended.

As I used to work some on communication systems, I have taken “advice” from the physical world here. I remember when I was learning a new version of the IEEE-488 standard (which connects computers to test equipment and other things) which I was using to check out the communications channels in the B-52, the whole theme of the standard was the sender was to “speak” in a very precise way, but the listener was to “listen” in a very forgiving way. That way, equipment that marginally met the standards or was built to an older standard could work in a new network. It’s important in a context where a misinterpreted message could mean that a bomb gets dropped with the wrong GPS data or worse yet – while the bomb bay doors are still closed. This, to me, is probably a good spiritual philosophy too. Learn how not to be offended by other people’s swearing, but hold oneself to a higher standard.

Do I meet that standard myself? That’s another issue…

Alan


#12

Thank you for that information. When I read the Catechism section you referenced I saw a couple other issues that threatened to distract me, such as the one about taking oaths – I think that is a very important teaching and I seldom see evidence of anybody abiding by it.

Anyway, I still am not convinced that the ejaculation you mentioned is necessarily (and thus unconditionally) anything other than reverent. For some people it may simply be an utterance of despair, in which case I would agree with you. In other cases, I suspect that people say it honestly to invoke the divine name into a situation that they feel needs some involvement. Kind of like if my wife got scared and yelled, “Alan!” I would not take that as a disrespect, but as an honor that she would think of me first when she got into trouble.

Now if I may I’ll jump sides a bit and pontificate against what I think are unsufficient attempts to ameliorate cursing. From my earlier comments some might be surprised that get pretty “absolutist” about this. Like I said, if a person uses some language I can forgive it. However, if they use substitute language to get around the “letter of the law” on swearing, then as far as I’m concerned they’re worse off yet as they are hypocrites in addition to being vulgar.

For example, to me saying “gosh darn it” does NOT get one off the hook for avoiding the “GD” phrase, because in our hearts one is simply a proxy for – or a pointer to – another. I remember a diatribe by Rick O’Shay in the comics, decades ago, where a guy went off something like, “black dang the dingswozzle, raggletag son of a badger pup, anyways!” To me, this angry expression is really the same thing – societally permissible but still lacking in faith.

Substituting a nonverbal phrase entirely such as “aargh” can go either way, though. It could just be a human reflex to a situation, or it could actually be an expression of despair – which may not be against the letter of the law but still indicative of faithlessness in some cases.

As long as I’m going to this extreme I’ll point out one more substitute that I find troubling. That is, people who say, “God bless it” when they really don’t mean “bless” at all. If we’re going to invoke God’s name into our despair, then to me it compounds the problem to disguise it with ostensible motives such as asking for a blessing. Certainly it is not sinful to ask God’s blessings upon a troubling situation, but I’m talking about when such a blessing is invoked with the same angry reaction as if it were a curse. To me that’s adding hypocracy and confusion to the despair.

Alan


#13

My only problem with people saying you need to go to confession for swearing is what is the list of the words? Cuss words change from which society and which age you are living in. A word today may mean something else years later. I would confession the swearing if you are using a word to show your angry towards someone else. The sin too me is not the word but the action/emotion behind the word.


#14

I don’t know whether or not swearing is a sin. I do know that people who swear just look ignorant when they do. I mean, can’t you improve your vocabulary and choose better words than those?

Scout :tiphat:


#15

Ahhh, the F bomb; my favorite ugly expression. And if no one believes me, just ask my wife, friends and co-workers!


#16

This reminds me of a joke I read a loooooooooooooong time ago in Reader’s Digest. The commander of a military unit wanted to eliminate bad language in his unit, so he posted a list of words with appropriate fines, starting with “hell” for a dime and going all the way to some real humdingers for two dollars. Under the list someone had penciled in “Special today: Damyankee–3 for a quarter.”

More to the point of the thread, I don’t cuss at all. Comes from my holiness, Church-of-God upbringing, altho I was a blue-streaker for a while when I was in the military. Nowadays the rowdiest I get is “heck” and “dang.” Having said that, I don’t deny the possibility that certain situations may be appropriately responded to by a very “colorful metaphor” (Spock, Star Trek IV).

DaveBj


#17

I don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but there is another reason why the f-bomb or other cuss/curse words should be avoided: they could provoke a violent confrontation with a person if used. Obviously, you can’t control what another person says, but you can control what you say and if you cuss them out it could get ugly.


#18

I’ll start with this: words mean things.

Language is a gift from God, and it only works when the symbols have a mutually agreed upon meaning. And those meanings must be rooted in tradition/time. That means a word must mean the same to us today as it did to our grandfathers decades ago. The more words change their meaning the more meanless our language will become. Essentially we will repeat the curse (pun intended) of Babel.

I had an old professor tell the class the he remembered when calling someone a son of a b… would automatically start a fight. The professors point was how important motherhood was a generation ago! To many who are reading this, they might be asking, “what does motherhood have to do with son of a b…?” Well break it apart and remember that words mean things. A bitch is a female dog. Thus the phrase was a great insult upon a person’s mother.

Today the SOB phrase doesn’t ruffle feathers at all. Some may think that is a good thing since men are knock each others teeth out over three words. But then contemplate on how poorly our society values motherhood today. Perhaps a little fisticuffs ain’t such a bad thing.

Apply the same logic to the F-bomb. There was a day and an age when sex was understood as sacred and holy and to be enjoyed within a marriage. The F-bomb has lost its meaning, and so has sex. Coincidence???

Perhaps Whoever wrote the 10 Commandments knew that language can affect the thought of society in this way. Perhaps that Person knew that if people began using His name in vain, society would then lose its sense of sacredness.


#19

[quote=Black Jaque]I’ll start with this: words mean things.

Language is a gift from God, and it only works when the symbols have a mutually agreed upon meaning. And those meanings must be rooted in tradition/time. That means a word must mean the same to us today as it did to our grandfathers decades ago. The more words change their meaning the more meanless our language will become. Essentially we will repeat the curse (pun intended) of Babel.

I had an old professor tell the class the he remembered when calling someone a son of a b… would automatically start a fight. The professors point was how important motherhood was a generation ago! To many who are reading this, they might be asking, “what does motherhood have to do with son of a b…?” Well break it apart and remember that words mean things. A bitch is a female dog. Thus the phrase was a great insult upon a person’s mother.

Today the SOB phrase doesn’t ruffle feathers at all. Some may think that is a good thing since men are knock each others teeth out over three words. But then contemplate on how poorly our society values motherhood today. Perhaps a little fisticuffs ain’t such a bad thing.

Apply the same logic to the F-bomb. There was a day and an age when sex was understood as sacred and holy and to be enjoyed within a marriage. The F-bomb has lost its meaning, and so has sex. Coincidence???

Perhaps Whoever wrote the 10 Commandments knew that language can affect the thought of society in this way. Perhaps that Person knew that if people began using His name in vain, society would then lose its sense of sacredness.
[/quote]

Probably not, since the F-bomb has been around in some form since the 1500’s.


#20

Probably not, since the F-bomb has been around in some form since the 1500’s.

When the word came into being is irrelevant. How the word is used and how accepted that useage becomes in a society is what matters.

If in the 1500’s the F-bomb was used sparingly and under limited contexts, it would not have the effect I’m claiming it has today.

The F-bomb refers to the act of fornication. When a symbol is accepted, then the action it symbolizes becomes accepted.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.