What is Foul Language?
We were watching a family movie last evening, one aimed at all generations, and to my surprise there were at least two uses of the word “damn”. You might say what so bad about that since most people use that term in everyday language and do not give it a second thought. Sadly they are right. “Hell” and “damn” are accepted terms in our society and even in some Christian circles as well. However I am old enough to remember when these terms were not permitted on TV let alone the many more abrasive terms that are permitted today.
With all of this said, what does the Bible say about the use of questionable terms. After all it is God’s view that counts and the Bible has plenty to say on this matter. The Bible says the use of certain terms and language are sin and therefore should be avoided. Paul writes in Colossians,
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Col. 3:8)
But what is “filthy language”? The Bible defines “filthy language” as being four separate and hated sins. Lets note them that we might avoid them.
Category #1: Cursing
James 3:9-10, “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
The term for cursing means to call upon God to bring disaster or destruction upon a person or object. We curse when make such statements as “Go to hell” or “Damn you.” It is often used out of anger with the desire for it to happen however often we hear it used in jest or as a way to vent some frustration.
People see these expressions as meaningless words and nothing more but that is not the way God sees them. God knows the heart of men and he realizes that the use of these phrases addresses the true condition of the heart. A condition that does not honor God!
Stop and think about it this way. When we uses these terms we are calling upon God to carry out our sinful desires. Therefore we are calling upon God to sin with us. Even more than that, how would we feel if God were to respond to our words and destroy the very ones we have cursed. What if God destroyed that co-worker or that neighbor or even that family member because we have called on Him to do so. You say but I really don’t mean that and yet, that is exactly what we are calling for! God tells us that what we say should always reflect what we mean. If we are cursing someone or some thing we had better mean it and it be for a just and biblical cause! If we do it for any other reason we are speaking on behalf of Satan.
Matt 5:37, “But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
There is one other thing to take into consideration when swearing. God says that whatever we wish for others we will receive the same treatment from God. Now that is a serious thought. What if God does to us what we wish upon others?
James 2:13, For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Matt 7:1-2, “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
God is us the solution to cursing. Instead of cursing others rather bless them and pray for them. (Lk. 6:28; Rom. 12:14
Category #2: Swearing (Eph. 5:3-4)
Eph 5:3-4, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.“
Swearing encompasses two types of foul language. The first is crude or low language. This is language that is not appropriate to use in all audiences and usually refers to body parts or bodily functions in crude manners. In essence it mocks the body which God has so wonderfully designed. Though some of these terms may not necessary be wrong in certain settings, the fact that are low in their very nature means the Christian should stay totally away from them.
The second is obscene language. These are terms and phrases that have sexually immoral or sexually violent meanings. Often these terms are referred too as “four letter words” and they call for things that God absolutely hates. Some of them call for raping another person whereas others may call for pre-marital or extra-martial sexual relations and others speak of the illegitimacy of a person’s birth. Whatever the case, these are words that should never be found in the mouth or the heart of any believer!
Why are these terms so serious in God’s eyes? First, they address the fact that the one using them has a foul and dirty mind. A mind that lives in the gutter rather than on spiritual things (Phil. 4:8-9). Secondly, the use of this languages lowers us to the depraved standards of the world (Gal. 5:19-21). If anything, our lives and our words should call upon the world to rise to a higher standard. Thirdly, it hardens our hearts to the most vile of sins and finally they violate God’s own commandment and will.
Eph 4:29-30, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.“
Category #3: .Blasphemy (Ex. 22:28)
Ex 22:28, “"You shall not revile God.”
Rev 13:6-7, “Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.”
Blaspheme is a term commonly spoken but too often not understood. It simply means to say things about God that are not true or are lies. Added to this idea is the fact that often the individual knows these things are not true and says them anyways makes him a slander of God as well.
For example to say Jesus was married or was gay as indicated in a recent Broadway play called “Corpus-Christi”. Another example is the Mormon’s teaching that Jesus is the brother of Satan or the recent feminist movement which makes God a female.
The serious nature of this sin is two fold. First it often leads an individual right into the pit of hell as it reflects a rebellious attitude toward the God of the Bible. Secondly, it is not taken lightly by God and carries a heavy judgment.
2 Peter 2:12-16, “But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
1 Tim 1:20, “of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
Category #4: Profanity (Ex. 20:7)
Ex 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
Profanity is taking anything sacred such as God’s name and using it in a degrading or demeaning way. This is often done by using the name of God to emphasis one’s point or associating it with other improper forms of language. It can also refer to other sacred things such as hell in a light or derogatory manner.
How serious is profanity? First it shows disrespect for the Creator, Ruler, and Savior of mankind and god will not hold such a person guiltless! Secondly, it probably reflects the inner man and the fact he has no saving relationship with God. For a believer, this is one of the worst things we could ever be caught doing as seen in Peter’s denial of Christ (Matt. 26:69-75)
Filthy language being clearly a sin, we ought to seek to avoid speaking it in any context. But much more than that, we need to guard our hearts by seeking to avoid as much exposure to filthy language as possible.