Profanity

I always tell my peers “if you can’t argue without the use of profanity, you have already lost the debate”. But, I often find my own tongue slipping. What is the Catholic teaching and your opinion on the use of profanity that does NOT include God’s name?

Profanity is ugly, crude, and vulgar.
But I do not find anywhere within the Catechism or the Bible that tells us specifically it is a sin to be ugly, or crude, or vulgar.

True, but I found this link with lots of exhortations from the Bible where we should not use profanity:
openbible.info/topics/using_profanity
PS: I struggle with this A LOT - this morning I cussed out my computer using words that I was hoping my apt neighbors didn’t hear because they think I am a good Christian.

ouch! was just reading and this one hit home or me:

James 1:26 - “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

OUCH! That’s strong stuff…

Of the list provided, only one (the first one) seems to speak about profanity.
But I also wonder about context.
Earlier in the chapter described, there are sins listed. In the specific verse though, the old lifestyle is being described…the things of their old life before they became Catholic.

They provide a nice list, but when you miss the mark on the first item in the list, I find it difficult to lend credit for the rest.

True it’s a broad concept “imprudent speech” - still at least the list provides scriptures that we can look up ourselves and evaluate for context and see how applicable they may be to our particular situations.

I hardly think that using colloquial epithets (i.e., vulgar language) is what any of that speaks about. The “evil” is harm done to others, insults, unjust criticism made without charity (or even with it, if it is unjust), false teachings, slander, etc. I’ve heard a priest use the word “God” in this manner, “Oh God, the weather was awful” and felt very uncomfortable but what do I know…only that, to me, the use of the names of God should be reserved for appropriate dialogue or prayer. :shrug:

‘It is never appropriate to speak about the parts of the body that must always be kept hidden and about certain bodily necessities to which nature has subjected all of us or even to name them. If sometimes you cannot avoid this in the case of a sick person or someone who is indisposed, do so in such a courteous manner that the terms you use cannot offend against decorum.’

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle

'It is surprising that most Christians look upon decorum and politeness as merely human and worldly qualities and do not think of raising their minds to any higher views by considering them as virtues that have reference to God, to their neighbor, and to themselves.

This illustrates very well how little true Christianity is found in the world and how few among those who live in the world are guided by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Still, it is this Spirit alone which ought to inspire all our actions, making them holy and agreeable to God.’

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle

'And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is placed among our members, which defileth the whole body, and inflameth the wheel of our nativity, being set on fire by hell.

For every nature of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of the rest, is tamed, and hath been tamed, by the nature of man: But the tongue no man can tame, an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison. By it we bless God and the Father: and by it we curse men, who are made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.

My brethren, these things ought not so to be.’

James 3:6-10

‘But now lay you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy talk out of
your mouth.’

Colossians 3:8

‘But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.’

Matthew 12:36

'But youthful desires flee: and pursue justice, faith, charity, and peace with them that invocate our Lord from a pure heart.

And foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they engender brawls.

But the servant of our Lord must not wrangle: but be mild toward all men, apt to teach, patient, with modesty admonishing them that resist the truth: lest sometime God give them repentance to know the truth: And they recover themselves from the snares of the devil, of whom they are held captive at his will.’

2 Timothy 1:22-26

‘Now I Paul myself beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ. . .’

2 Corinthians 10:1

'Obscene discourse is revolting to all who are not yet dead to modesty and shame, but many disguise their obscenity under ambiguous expressions, so as to draw such percons into the conversation: but is their crime any the less be cause of its being glossed over?

No, it generally happens that the danger is much greater because of the evil being disguised.

Christian purity ought to shrink from all conversation, let it be ever so artificially varnished, that tends to make impure subjects or objects pleasing: it is, therefore, necessary to avoid with extreme care in conversation all that might, even indirectly, infringe on modesty. If any thing be uttered contrary to purity, a Christian ought not to listen, if he would preserve his heart from corruption: nothing is indifferent, where all is in danger: every sense, should, therefore, be on the alert to prevent the approach of the enemy.’

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle

'‘THERE are some men who in their discourse make a parade of irreligion and incredulity: the very word of God is not safe from their raillery, for they will sometimes pervert its meaning in the most scandalous manner, even giving to its texts an obscene interpretation. The company of such men must be carefully shunned, for evil communication corrupts good manners, and it may be added when speaking of these false Christians, in the words of the Wise Man, that their discourse is so much the more detestable, in that they make of sin a play and an amusement. It is not only necessary to avoid swearing, blasphemy, imprecations, insulting expressions, but even the companionship of those who are addicted to these vices. There are other terms, which, of themselves, signify nothing, yet are to be care fully excluded from the conversation of a Christian, such as the too frequent mention of the holy name of God without proper reverence, or any necessity for introducing it. The respect which every Christian ought to have for the Lord, is incompatible with these liberties of speech, which often degenerates into indifference and irreverence, and finally becomes a sacrilegious and blasphemous habit.’

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle

I was a professional sailor (both Merchant Marine and Navy) for several years before I came ashore to get an education. My ordinary language was such that the air turned purple and you could smell the sulphur burning every time I spoke. When I was in Collegem I did not give a rats behind about what others thought about me.
What cured me and taught me to clean up my act, was when my son was about 4 or 5 years old and in nursery school. I went to pick him up one day to find him being punished by standing in in a corner. I asked the lady who ran the nursery school “What did he do?”, she coldly replied: I learned a new word from him today!" It was then I knew I had to stop using hard language.

Other than using the Lord’s name in vain, the answer to the question of whether one’s words are profane or not is subjective. What is vulgar to one, may not be vulgar to another. Be true to one’s self and do not judge.

I tune my speech for the specific audience. although the Navy was a primer in obscenity, I grew into that art as an ice hockey coach: locker room talks, haranguing the refs, taunting opposing players, etc. professionally, I learned how to argue with a judge or woo a jury in the best king’s english. at home, I dislike all crudeness.

Paul said he would be all things to all people to get the message across.

Matthew 15:11 comes to mind…

“Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

Basically, we are defiled by the words that come out of our mouth.

so ,in other words you talk own to your inferiors :rolleyes:

we are all equal in the eyes of our Lord.

I don’t think that’s the point at all. Tailoring your speech to your audience is generally not condescending, but can be respectful of the personality, upbringing, or context of the person you’re talking to. Speak eloquently to those who admire eloquence, and frankly to those who respect frankness.

Also, I think the vulgarity of language has everything to do with the meaning conveyed and little to do with the particular combination of letters. It is much worse to speak evil of someone in “gentle” terms than to encourage someone with “profanity”.

any trained speaker can cut someone to ribbons five ways from sunday without using any profanity.

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.

Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot, Alexander Pope

ROFL!!! :rotfl:

That’s a good point too because in different countries different words are cuss words and in different languages a normal English word may be a cuss word in another language. Not to mention slang cuss words that can also be someone’s name and things like that. :wink: I have an uncle who’s name is also the same word used as a slang cuss word for example.

I don’t use cuss words mainly because my parents never used cuss words in front of me and my siblings and they didn’t allow us to use cuss words. Even as adults my siblings never use cuss words in front of my parents although when not around them they use them, but I never did pick up the habit. Once in a blue moon when really frustrated or mad I might say a cuss word but normally I don’t cuss. But with that being said, I don’t think it’s a sin to cuss. I think it’s a bad habit but not a sin. Some people are so in the habit of cussing that they can’t say a whole sentence without using a cuss word, cuss words are the only way they know of expressing themselves. I think that’s a bad habit. On my job profanity is not allowed and in a lot of places they don’t allow profanity.

I think the verses in the Bible referring to what comes out of a man’s mouth has more to do with using words to insult, hurt or abuse others such as putting people down, lying on them and things like that. I don’t think it refers to saying a random cuss word if you drop a handful of papers or something and have to pick them all up. :wink:

A similar problem happened to me due to the Air Force. It’s difficult to undo that level of mastery once achieved.

I try to not swear in my thoughts and attempt to keep profanity out of my speech as much as possible. The thoughts are the problem because it comes so quickly.

watch Alec Baldwin’s furious motivational speech in* Glengarry Glenross* or R. Lee Ermey welcome the recruits in Full Metal Jacket. are they acts? yes. do some victims take them seriously? yes. even if the speeches are recognized as acts, do they motivate? yes. so these things have a place and time.

other than that, like you, I keep it clean elsewhere… funny, yeah, its hard to keep the initial blast out of mind, old habits.

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