Bleep! Why Christians Shouldn’t Cuss

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Bert Perry's picture that since indeed the notion of "Anglo-Saxon verbiage" that we so often associate with the phrase "unwholesome speech" really dates back only to the Battle of Hastings (where the victorious Normans decreed that the use of Anglo-Saxon words would be proscribed), what then is Paul really saying in Ephesians 4:29?  

Now I can grant that we ought to avoid Anglo-Saxon verbiage out of the notion that we ought not give needless offense, but it strikes me that if Paul is not just referring to "bad words" and such, he is at the same time referring to something.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jonathan Charles's picture

As I see it, there are a couple categories of "bad language":

1.  Profanity-language that shows disrespect for God or holy things; I would put under this the matter of taking God's name in vain.

2.  Cursing-Condemnatory language, imprecations, like telling someone to go to he** or using the word da**.  Peter cursed (Mk. 15:71), maybe something like, "I'll be da**** if I know the man you are talking about."

4.  A false oath-When Peter swore he likely said something like, "With God as my witness, I do not know this man you are talking about."  Peter swore falsely.

5.  Coarse talk about sexual matters

6.  Words that are coarse because culture considers them coarse. 

Concerning this last category, I have people that I pastor who grew up on farms and called and still call what they swept up in the barn a word that rhymes with "it," and who will call someone's backside a word that rhymes with "grass."  I didn't grow up around here, or in a rural farming community, but I definitely see how people who grew up in a farming culture may use language that those of us who never shoveled out a barn would ever use. 

Read Heiko Oberman's book on Luther, he talks, in places, about Luther's language.  Luther would get fired from most churches today for talking today like he did when he was alive.


Aaron Blumer's picture


Yes, I've been studying this a bit for some writing, but keep getting stuck in analysis.

The south African examples are quite interesting.

Categories so far on my list:

  • scatology (crude references to waste... sometimes including anatomy and sex) 
  • profanity (casual/irreverent reference to sacred ideas, persons, places, etc.)
  • cursing (combines some reference to the sacred along w/ targeting suffering on someone)
  • slur (racial, ethnic, etc.)
  • obscenity (tends to overlap w/scatology but maybe including some things not necessarily scatological)

Some include also...

  • oaths ("swearing" by someone or someting sacred)

In Scripture there seems to be some legit. use of cursing, oaths.