Matthew 5 – Part 17 – WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH SWEARING? EVERYBODY DOES IT!

Posted: January 7, 2010 in Matthew, Matthew 5, The Sermon on the Mount
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Matthew 5 – Part 17 – WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH SWEARING? EVERYONE DOES IT!

Why is the F*** word and the Sh** word used so freely today? Jesus doesn’t directly include this in what He says about oaths in Matthew 5 but it is there by way of application and other passages enlarge on this. Is it a sin to curse (now there’s a quaint, old-fashioned word)? So I am taking a detour.

The spirit of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:33-37 is “watch how you speak. Don’t use God’s name as a swearword. Why? It is unnecessary and it is so dishonouring to God. In fact, speak and act with integrity.”

My mother speaks of times when her mother would wash her mouth out with soap in an effort to get across the filthiness of the way her children cursed. Imagine the uproar today if a mother “judged” her child in such a way today! I was listening to a group of School-aged children speaking with each other a couple of days ago. They would once have been recipients for a cleaner mouth.

What does the Bible say? Romans 3:10-18 (NLT) says, “As the Scriptures say,…“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. … “Snake venom drips from their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” … “They have no fear of God at all.””

People who constantly say “Oh my God” still make me cringe as they bring God into the conversation amidst a series of expletives, and “Christ” is just a swearword or curse or slang word. I so find that difficult to listen to. It’s like smoking in the room with non-smokers, only worse. It shows a lack of respect for Christ or for anyone who might be a follower of Christ in the same vicinity.

That’s not to say that followers of Christ are not just as crass as those who are not at times. I personally find it difficult to be in the conversation when someone is using language that speaks about the privacy of the sexual act in a such a common way and often in a way that downgrades the status of a woman to an object. I am equally revolted by those who speak about excrement in the foulest of ways. What is the fascination with Sh**! How gross is such language in the midst of a conversation or a movie and I can’t see why it is necessary for everyday speech?

We’ve all heard the old saying that if you took away the swearwords, I wonder what kind of vocabulary would be left. Would some people find it difficult to talk at all? I don’t know but I would like to think that some might find that they can speak more fluently and expressively without their encumbrance.

Of course, you can dismiss this as the ravings of an old man but I would like to think that a value we all hold would be to show consideration to others. And even to consider, if you are a follower of Christ, that your cursing (yes, I’ve used that word again) shows that you may well have a real problem with simply being led by our culture rather than by what is acceptable to God.

Perhaps a question that might be helpful is “Am I being thoughtless, insensitive and selfish to others by the way I speak? Am I unwilling to stand up and be counted when I am called to live as Salt and Light (Jesus speaks about the concept. You might be interested in following it up)? Do I really want to be part of the crowd and blend in with a culture of crude talk?

Does my crass language reveal something about my heart is towards God and am I disregarding what He wants for my life? Is it foolishness and an indication of depraved thinking (especially regarding my attitude to women) that has no place in my life? Am I worth more than this? Cursing (OK – Swearing) certainly doesn’t appear to be a habit that the Bible encourages! Jesus was pretty direct at times but never stooped to speaking about people in sexually explicit ways or refer to them as excrement. He encourages us to be Salt that has not lost its taste. Swearing seems to be more an indication of salt mixed with dirt that has lost all usefulness to God and a good conversation.

Those who have developed a habit of swearing may well write off what I am trying to say as being judgmental! I offer it more as a point of view! I also care enough to say the tough things worthy of consideration even if culturally unacceptable.

James 3:8-9 (NLT) says “but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.”

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me!” I think perhaps we underestimate the power of words to damage our own lives, let alone the lives of others. “Familiarity breeds contempt!” Perhaps that’s more to the point. Husbands and wives can do a lot of damage to a marriage by the way they speak. James is right, “Who can tame the tongue?” For a follower of Christ, the answer to that is that Jesus can tame the tongue, as we respect what He says and live our lives in tune with Him. It might even help to take the invitation that Colossians 4:6 gives us – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” The invitation is to assess what kind of seasoning we use in the way we speak. Let me know what you think.

Pastor Ross

See related Article of stats in workplace swearing between generations at Wrike. Swearing in the Workplace: Announcing Part 1 of Wrike’s 2016 Work Management Survey https://www.wrike.com/blog/swearing-workplace-announcing-part-1-wrikes-2016-work-management-survey/ via @Wrike

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