Monday, June 6, 2011

Other Biblical Notes on Swearing

From Philippians 4:8 we saw that swearing doesn’t match up to those standards. But Philippians 4:8 isn’t the Bible’s only commentary on our use of language. Rather, here’s a very small sampling of what Scripture has to say:

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) Language is not intrinsically evil, but can be used for good or evil.

It is also powerful: By language God created the world (Genesis 1), and Christ Himself is called the Word (John 1:1). So perhaps not surprisingly, it is also through language—specifically God’s Word—that Christians are protected: “Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)

Is it any wonder, then, that we will held accountable for what we say? “‘But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.’” (Matthew 12:36-37)

So how are we supposed to use our words?

First, wrong usage of God’s name (e.g. blasphemy or profanity) is never appropriate: “‘You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.’” (Exodus 20:7)

And since humans are made in the image of God, we are also to extend to them respect: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4) Rather “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Ephesians 4:29) letting our “conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6)

So for the Christian in their daily lives, profanity and obscenities are off-limits, as is much of the other problematic language I grouped under the definition of swearing.

However, swearing is part of our culture these days and a very prevalent one at that. Therefore, as I showed with Philippians 4:8, there may be a place for it in fiction and that is what we’ll be looking at next.

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