Can Christians Cuss?

Can Christians Cuss?

As I have been roaming through the blogosphere, I have noticed some Christians using language that wouldn’t be spoken from the pulpit. This question as to whether Christians should cuss has plagued me for about five or six years. After all, aren’t words arbitrary or irrelevant when compared to eternity. Well, I don’t think so. I think words relate to reality and what we talk about is an identifier to who we are on the inside. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Is “crap” a cuss word? What about “damn”? Depending on the context, the words can be acceptable. For instance, if I communicate that sinners are damned then it is not cussing. But if I use it flippantly, then it should be classified as cussing.

Some might say I am splitting hairs and being too legalistic about it all. After all, don’t Christians have liberty? Yes, but we have been set free from bondage and for service to God. In other words, we have been set free from purposeless living so that we can proclaim his excellencies (1 Peter 2.9).

What we communicate with our lips tells others about our Jesus.

Doug Beaumont has an interesting article on this topic. Although I wouldn’t agree with this brother on all levels, I think he brings up some great points regarding cussing as a sign of laziness and looseness in living.


  • Jason
    Posted at 20:16h, 18 February Reply

    You may want to check out my blog where this has already been discussed. You’ll be very surprised how sensitive this issue seems to be even among seminarians. The post is called Christian Pottymouths?.

  • iconoclasm
    Posted at 00:53h, 19 February Reply

    Interesting article. Especially the part about the levels. Do you think over time these words can eventually loose their meaning or offensiveness? For instance if after a couple generations “c**p” came to mean “stuff” and no one knew the original meaning would it still be bad?

    I wish I was blogging back then Jason. Stephen at Silent Holocron calls it the “Great Cussin’ Blogwar”.

  • iconoclasm
    Posted at 00:55h, 19 February Reply

    I just thought of something. Some words didn’t use to be offensive but can become that way over time…

  • Mike Noakes
    Posted at 01:33h, 19 February Reply

    This bro has got some posts on your issue. I will refrain from commenting here about this issue, but this guy sums it up nicely.

    ps: Crap does mean stuff in my area with my generation.

  • ReapolitiKLR
    Posted at 05:28h, 19 February Reply

    Cuss words are HIGHLY cultural. When I come down to Kentucky, I will doubtless re-align my vocabulary. For example, in Quebec French, there is an entire class of cuss-words that are words having to do with the Catholic church, and are only swears when the context is right, but when the context is right, they are COLOSSAL swear words. A few representative examples are the french words for: Tabernacle, Communion wafer (Host), Orb, etc. I consider that class of cuss words to be the last remaining vestigial memories of a post-catholic, thoroughly postmodern culture. What is tragic is that many Quebecers don’t realize the origins of the words, and will be hard-pressed to not laugh aloud when discussing, say, the book of Hebrews.

  • ReapolitiKLR
    Posted at 05:35h, 19 February Reply

    More to the point, If my use of the word, “crap” causes my brother to stumble, it is absolutely no imposition for me to purge it from my vocabulary. My freedom in Christ is nothing compared to the value of the sinner He bought with His own blood. On the other hand, if I can say, “crap” without causing my brother to stumble, it’s StrongBad time!!

    P.S., I think “y’all” causes me to stumble, ;)

  • Jason
    Posted at 13:42h, 19 February Reply

    Sounds like it’s tough to be faithful Catholic in Quebec. I can’t imagine “host” being a cuss word, but I guess in some cultures people cannot imagine the name of our Savior used as a cuss word.

    I won’t disagree that cussing is usually a sign of laziness and loose living, but we need to keep in perspective that the condition of our hearts is of primary importance. Some people may have been raised by parents who cussed heavily or maybe there is a lot of cussing in their work environment. A person in that situation may struggle with cussing even if they are actively following Christ. Meanwhile, there are plenty of non-Christians who control their tongue quite well. Cussing is not usually a premeditated act, especially when it’s done out of anger. Changing our most basic instincts is a long process… it’s like quitting smoking.

    Which raises another question… should Christians smoke???

  • Stephen
    Posted at 17:12h, 19 February Reply

    Well, Mike, I think the link you provided is actually evidence FOR the position of this particular blog, as well as mine and Jason’s; and AGAINST your position.

    And that’s from someone for whom crap actually does mean “stuff” in certain contexts. But the actual substitution has never left–it still is a substitute for a vulgar word meaning “excrement.” Just because that vulgar word can be used to mean “stuff” doesn’t necessarily give us license to say it. Would you really go around saying “let me get my excrement and then we’ll go?” How tacky and disgusting you would be.

    If we’re going to trumpet “personal choice” over the clear teaching of Scripture, we’ve got serious attitude problems.

  • Mike Noakes
    Posted at 18:11h, 19 February Reply

    I don’t understand why youhave to make this some personal attack on me, Stephen. You must have misunderstood the article I left a link to, because it doesn’t really give the conservative view any support.

    Please stay on topic and refrain from directing your comments on me rather than the subject.


  • Stephen
    Posted at 06:03h, 20 February Reply

    Geez man, calm down. Nowhere in that comment did I personally attack you. Furthermore, my comment was very much on topic and relevant to the discussion that took place here and elsewhere.

    If anything, it was you who personally attacked me and Jason (the originator of this discussion) for questioning the position you and others took on this issue. I seem to recall you explicitly saying that I was “nothing,” among other things said about Jason.

    Let’s take a deep breath and sit back in our seats, shall we?

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get my excrement ready for class.

  • Matthew Wireman
    Posted at 06:34h, 20 February Reply

    Wow. A pretty touchy issue. Before people take things personally, let me clarify some points. First of all, we need to get rid of the trenches. That is, I am not trying to prove you wrong. Instead, let’s help each other bring in our thinking to a Biblical understanding.

    Secondly, let’s not bring in the conversation from some other blog here on the comments on my blog. That was another time, another place, and hopefully people have changed (on both accounts)

    Thirdly, I read the blog and comments that discussed this earlier and I think there needs to be more qualification than was done before. I wasn’t convinced on either side by the way it was talked about.

    Fourthly, I think it goes further than context. And even further than the referent of the word. I will post on this soon. I hope to bring some balance to both sides and have a clearer understanding of words, particularly, and communication, in general.

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