I wasn’t always a preacher, and I must confess that I used to cuss like a sailor. As a matter of fact, when I did become a preacher, a good friend of mine said concerning my cussing, “If Russell Mckinney can become a preacher, anybody can.” He said that merely as a reporting of the facts, not as an indictment on my call to preach.
For years, my wife Tonya worked alongside a Language Arts teacher who liked to say, “Words are free; why not use the best ones?” That’s such a wonderful line. It sounds just like something a Language Arts teacher would say, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, once you’ve learned how to cuss, you never forget how to do it. If you think you have forgotten, try hitting your finger with a hammer and see what word flies into your mind. I doubt that it will be a word of praise to the Lord.
As we now live in a world that is dominated by social media, our voices can be heard more than ever. If we want to express our opinions, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. all give us the platforms to do so. And in case there was ever any doubt, professing Christians do have opinions. A problem arises, however, when Christians resort to profanity and vulgar language to express those opinions.
It is with this problem in mind that I want to list seven verses of scripture for you. I could list more, but these seven will make the point. As evidence that this basic truth is expressed in every translation of scripture, I’ll even cite the verses by way of seven different translations. Here we go:
- But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (Colossians 3:8, K.J.V.)
- No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, H.C.S.B)
- Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from trouble. (Proverbs 21:23, E.S.V.)
- Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:26, N.I.V.)
- Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, N.R.S.V.)
- Dirty stories, foul talk, and coarse jokes — these are not for you. Instead, remind each other of God’s goodness, and be thankful. (Ephesians 5:4, T.L.B.)
- Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3, N.K.J.V.)
Obviously, God is very much interested in the words we use to communicate. That’s why we should all be careful regarding the language we employ for everyday conversations, postings on social media, texting, sending emails, and (yes) writing blog posts. It’s been my experience that communicating by way of profanity, crude comments, and dirty little jokes is primarily just a habit anyway. And if it’s a habit, you can break it if you try hard enough.
In closing, let me ask you something: Can you imagine a preacher peppering his sermons with profanity, gutter language, and crude expressions? You say, “No, that would be terrible. How could anybody take that man’s Christianity seriously if he did that?” Well, I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but you won’t find one Bible verse wherein God makes a distinction between preached sermons and everyday talk. So, if you profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and you want people to take your Christianity seriously, you are going to have to lose the profanity, the filthy communication, the dirty stories, and the coarse jokes. It’s just that simple. They don’t make you sound more intelligent, they don’t drive home your point all the more effectively, and, most importantly, they certainly don’t bring honor to the Savior you profess to serve.