With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
If cursing is a sin, there’s a lot of sinning going on.
Recently, someone told me that the F word doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s no longer a curse word. Really? “So now it’s a happy, uplifting, and helpful word,” I responded. He was confident that the definition should no longer be considered offensive, however, he couldn’t provide me with the new meaning. “It’s just not a bad word anymore.” Right about that time my grandmother rolled over in her grave.
He said cursing has become so commonplace that the words are no longer seen as vulgar or dirty. They just help you better express your feelings.
Profanity is everywhere. In the grocery store, restaurants, department stores, sporting events, in movies and television shows. Everywhere. Don’t know if it’s made it to church yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
We know that the reformer, Martin Luther, had a reputation for salty language. He was particularly fond of aiming it at the devil. I suppose he figured it was language the evil one could understand.
Now, cursing has been around since ancient times, but primarily used by those of unseemly repute. When I was in high school, profanity was infrequent and definitely not part of the mainstream. Well, I grew up in a small town. Things may have been different in the city. Then when I joined the Navy, “Hello!” Vulgarity was a staple language and part of the culture.
Regardless of how we got here, I am persuaded that cursing is now mainstream. But does that make it right? Has the meaning and the intent of vulgarity really changed? If so, does that even matter? I’m unaware of any new memos from God that His position has changed on the issue.
The trend toward vulgarity can be linked to a looser morality. It’s all part of one big rebellious package as man slips further from God. Fact is, there’s more hate, more anger, more incivility, and more disrespect for authority than I’ve seen in my lifetime.
God’s third commandment (Exodus 20:7) on blasphemy hasn’t changed. Using the Lord’s name in vain is still a sin.
Jesus addressed the matter in Luke 6:45.
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
God is concerned with what’s in our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7) That’s where good and evil reside. And the tongue reveals the truth about us.
Now, you might say that, in context, James wasn’t talking about cursing or vulgar language. Regardless of how you view his thoughts, he IS referencing the intent of our words and our relationship to Christ.
It’s the intent of the heart that makes our words sinful or not. Our words should honor God.
I want to leave you with a few scriptures that reveal the importance of honoring God with our speech.
- Ephesians 4:29- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
- 1 Peter 3:10- For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
- Romans 12:1- Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…
For more on this topic, check out this article: Whatever Happened to Civility
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.