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The Bible and our cussing culture

Think for a moment about the words you’ve spoken in the last hour, the last day, the last week. Have the words of your mouth (those you’ve spoken out loud, those you’ve spoken on social media) and the meditations of your heart been acceptable in light of God’s holiness and our holy calling? Has there been just a little cussing?

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O God.” – Psalm 19:14

What’s really on our minds and in our hearts comes out when we’re under pressure. Jesus confirmed as much when he said in Matthew 15, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” And by way of explanation, Jesus said, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”

With that in mind, we consider that according to current research, “The average American utters their first curse word of the day at 10:54 a.m. And one in four Americans can’t get past 9 a.m. without cursing most days, while the majority of respondents swear before 11 a.m.

What’s causing all this foul-mouthed defilement? In a word: stress. “The new survey, conducted by 9Round Kickbox Fitness, found financial worry to be the biggest cause of stress and frustration among Americans (56 percent), followed by such time-honored stress-contributors like not getting enough sleep (36 percent), health concerns (35 percent), and work (30 percent).”

This unholy and unbecoming speech is being spewed increasingly – and predominantly – by women. Women not only curse more than men, female cussing has grown exponentially in the past decade. The generation now raising the next generation (so we’re talking here about millennials who are now raising generation Z) curse not only at work but prefer to work in environments where profanity is accepted. Sixty seven percent of millennial women and 66 percent of millennial men curse at work. Additionally, 47 percent of millennial men and 40 percent of millennial women prefer to work in a place where it’s OK to use profanity.

We are instructed in Colossians 4:6 to “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” But what does that mean? We associate salty speech with sailors and, well, that’s generally not thought to be of the holy and acceptable variety. Our speech is to always and in all ways be gracious and truthful. Like Jesus, we are called to be full of grace and truth. Speaking the truth in love, as Paul puts it in Ephesians.

As you consider today the words of your own mouth and the meditations of your own heart, consider these verses:

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Philippians 4:8 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Ephesians 5:4 “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”


–Carmen LaBerge is president of Reformation Press and host of the “Connecting Faith with Carmen LaBerge” radio program.