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Does the Bible forbid foul language?

Q. Does the Bible forbid foul language?

A. Yes, it does. Consider these warnings:

“Do not accustom your mouth to lewd vulgarity, for it involves sinful speech” (Sirach 23:13).

“When an ungodly man curses his adversary, he curses his own soul” (Sirach 21:27).

“Immorality or any impurity … must not even be mentioned among you … no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk (Ephesians 5:3–4).

“Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly. … anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths” (Colossians 3:5–8).

“Avoid profane, idle talk” (2 Timothy 2:16).

“No foul language should come out of your mouths” (Ephesians 4:20).

When we say “foul language,” we should note that we’re referring to a whole range of speech: vulgarity (crude or coarse language having to do with body parts or functions); obscenity (language that’s lewd or otherwise contrary to sexual purity); profanity (words with sacred or theological meaning used in a flippant or perverse way, such as “God,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “damn” or “hell”). Profanity includes cursing (expressing a desire that someone suffer ill, especially damnation) and blasphemy (the abuse or careless use of God’s name).

The Second Commandment tells us that the misuse of God’s name is an extremely serious sin: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, in an empty or flippant way]. For the Lord will not leave unpunished him who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

Today the language of our culture, both in public and in private settings, continues its descent into the sewer. Though our contemporaries often think nothing of that development, Jesus makes it clear that our words are indicators of our soul’s condition: “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). PT

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