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which is worse?

June 7, 2009

quite awhile back i wrote a controversial post on cussing. *gasp* 😯

some of the comments got pretty heated. i tried over and over to state my case and thoughts on cussing but im not so sure it was received by some.

my thoughts on cussing…a word is a word is a word. its where that word is coming from. the condition of the heart. the intent behind it.

the other day my son, kota, and i were watching a video from a pastor that was talking about cussing and using bad language such as, sucks, crap, hell, damn. he hit heavily on pastors or those in teaching positions to be mindful of what is coming out of their mouths…and so on and so on.

at the end of the video kota expressed his confusion about a couple things. which gave me the opportunity to share my feelings on “cussing”.

me: say im driving down the road and a driver cuts me off, dangerously. i blow up at him. which is worse, to call him an idiot or an asshole?

kota: um. both.

me: why?

kota: because, youre angry.

my 12 year old son gets it.

110 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2009 7:29 pm

    your kids rock.

    you rock too.

    good gene pool in that family.

  2. June 7, 2009 7:31 pm

    Bingo! Kota definitely hit that nail right on the head. I must say that being angry in of itself isn’t a bad thing, how you choose to handle that anger is what gets you in trouble.

    I was chatting with a close friend of mine recently about how we handle stress and emotions, and she said something that made me stop and think; Our reactions to situations define who we really are. You can say this that an the other, but people really pay attention to your actions.

  3. June 7, 2009 7:35 pm

    i totally agree on the word is a word is a word. i was having this very conversation the other day. we were talking about our favorite cuss words of all things. it is absolutely the heart behind the word. where the word is coming from that makes all the difference. i could very well say, “puppies!!” but have the heart of a monster when i say it. you know?

  4. Heidi permalink
    June 7, 2009 7:36 pm

    Why was this controversial?

    Your kid got it!! Bravo/Brava parents.

    I wish I always would get it.

  5. June 7, 2009 7:37 pm

    Short & to the point. Gotta love the wisdom & insight of youth.

  6. June 7, 2009 7:42 pm

    high-five, friend.

  7. June 7, 2009 7:46 pm

    hmmm. i thought this would raise controversy cuz i said shit.

    oh great! now it will.


    • June 7, 2009 7:50 pm

      umm… that is my favorite word. no controversy to me!

    • June 8, 2009 5:32 am

      Um-AH. I’m telling my mum on you…

    • June 8, 2009 7:27 pm

      we’re regular “shitters” in this house. like Crystal, it’s a favorite. And funny enough, I don’t usually use it in anger. More in humor. Because seriously, it’s funny in the right context.

  8. June 7, 2009 7:53 pm

    Ok….maybe I’m dense but I’m not sure that I get it. Are you saying that it’s ok to cuss as long as there is no anger behind it? In my mind, no matter how you slice it, there are words that are just inappropriate regardless of what the heart is behind the word (the F-word for one).

    Again, maybe I’m just tired from the weekend and missing the point but it seems that there is a double standard at play.

    • June 7, 2009 7:56 pm

      socially & culturally there are words that are deemed inappropriate… simply because they have been tagged as such. but talk to someone in Europe or even Australia and they’d tell you that some of “our” cuss words aren’t cuss words to them and visa versa. we definitely should be appropriate in our word choices… but i think the gist of the blog post is that it all comes back to the heart.

    • June 7, 2009 7:59 pm

      what im saying here is in that moment of anger and me being reactionary, it makes no difference if i call that driver a moron, an idiot, a cheese stick, an asshole or a sycamore tree…if im speaking in a moment of anger or hatred…its all wrong. not the word…but where its coming from.

      now…to go around and just use silly vulgar words flippantly is just immature and disrespectful and shows little class, imho.

      so, no, you are not dense.

      • June 7, 2009 8:03 pm

        Ok, I got it! Yes, in that case I agree with you 100%! πŸ™‚

        • June 7, 2009 8:22 pm


          this is not to say that i dont flippantly slip a few “minor offenses” through my flimsy filter. id be lyin if i said i didnt 😯

  9. Jenni permalink
    June 7, 2009 8:10 pm

    Wait… So where’s the cuss word?

  10. June 7, 2009 8:27 pm

    Like with so many things, it’s a balance. There is the thought somewhere in James about a word being akin to setting off a forest fire. I agree. But the heart and motivation is Christ’s standard, and that should be ours as well. Do I want my daughter thinking it’s OK to cuss when a few inadvertently fly out of my mouth? No, but I also don’t want her having a complex if one slips out every now and then when she’s older either.

    • June 7, 2009 8:40 pm

      i agree. and like james said too – a cutting word can start a forest fire…yup. we all should be careful in how we choose our words and from what motivation theyre coming from.

    • June 7, 2009 8:41 pm

      fixin2, I agree with you, but just to be clear, the passage in James talks to discouraging words, or mean words, not cussing. In others words, James is talking about how telling someone they are ugly, can destroy them for life. And I agree. Words can cut deep.

      Just keeping it clear πŸ™‚

  11. June 7, 2009 8:33 pm

    You go, Kota. So true. I’ve been convicted about that a ton… I rarely ever say cuss words and thought I was all that + a bag of chips. Recently I realized that I drop the F-bomb in my head ALL THE TIME and that it is NO DIFFERENT than saying it out loud. I put too much stock in what comes out of my mouth and not enough on what’s going on in my head.

    Not to say that a little mental diaper isn’t in order– I’m not saying I should just let fly whatever I’m thinking because it doesn’t matter. It’s just that I think I should be worrying about my heart, and my mouth will follow accordingly.

  12. June 7, 2009 10:19 pm


    and very well-put.

    Thanks for takin’ the hard conversations! I truly respect that! (Was this that hard? I dunno. But anyway. Respect still stands. πŸ™‚ )

  13. June 8, 2009 12:04 am

    Yes…I agree that the anger behind the words is the “real” issue. But, I do think that one must (speaking from my heart) be careful not to compromise or convince themselves that everything or rather every word available is permissible. I have been thinking a lot about Proverbs 15:1 “a gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” I wonder how many people overhear my words – even in passing and get stirred up. Maybe not get angry, but get stirred up in other ways. I know that I am in an unGodly place when I swear and I think it interesting when people say that “a word is a word” and are able to separate a “swear word” from any other word. But there is a distinct separation in my head and heart from when I say or think “crap” to the f-bomb. Seriously. To me they are a world away, and I hope that as I continue to grow and learn and grasp the things of Holy, I am able to dismiss the latter. I am not in judgment of the people who say they are able to separate the two….I just don’t understand it at all because (and maybe this is completely immature on my walk with God) but it does stir things within me when I hear or think them and I would be lying if I said it didn’t.

    • June 8, 2009 12:07 pm

      i agree…there are certain words that are just vulgar to me. like the f-bomb. i dont think i used that word when i used to curse like a sailor.

      it all comes down, imo, to personal conviction. one might be offended by the word crap, but not be offended by having a glass of wine. both are fine. i dont think crap is ungodly. i think talking crap is ungodly though. again…is it as much the words or how they are used?

  14. June 8, 2009 3:42 am

    I like this post Tam….simple and to the point by your kiddo..very nicely done.

    I agree that it is where it is coming from that makes it a cuss word…other than that it is just words.

    • June 8, 2009 12:09 pm

      yes, but some disagree here with “words are just words”. and thats ok. its all personal conviction.

      kota is a pretty neat kid. i like that he sees the deeper issue beyond the speech.

  15. June 8, 2009 5:10 am

    Interesting post…. definitely food for thought…. anger laced words make asshole and idiot in the same category…. ok… gotta go ponder that…

    And … shameless plug right here: It’s my birthday!

  16. June 8, 2009 5:26 am

    [personal opinion]

    I think it’s irrelevant what other cultures in different countries think, do, or tag when it comes to OUR country’s vernacular. Sure there are other nations that speak the “same” language, but anyone who spends time within the borders of other nation know that, though similar, there’s a difference of culture.

    Plus, it’s just a weak argument. “We shouldn’t look at something in our culture as inappropriate just because another culture doesn’t see it as inappropriate.” Parents, doesn’t that sound like a familiar teen comeback? I want this, I want to do this, it’s ok to have this because so and so wants, does, has this?

    If everyone else jumped off a cliff…you get the drill.

    Also, there IS such a thing as a moral standard. And while I don’t necessarily think that cussing puts a person at the extreme of the “bad” end of the spectrum, I do think, that as a nation, we’ve gradually lost our moral compass.

    Issues as “small” as cussing are evidence. What once was horrible is now acceptable. American vernacular language (me included) has gone from lovely and proper too diluted and common.

    Now, back to the “heart” of the topic here. IT ABSOLUTELY MATTERS what comes out of your mouth from your heart. By that I mean, you could call someone a moron or an a$$hole or whatever and it would absolutely be the posture of your heart from which those words come from that make those words so “bad.”

    At the same time though, is there ever a good time to call someone an a$$hole? Can that ever really be a good thing? Even if you’re joking? IS there ever a good time to drop Fbombs? I mean honestly how endearing could that EVER be?

    I’m a little up in the air about damn and hell, and I’m thinking it’s more of a generational cultural acceptance for me…you know kind of an oversaturation. You hear those SOOOO much. They seem so non-threatening.

    But for me, I don’t labor too much over trying to police the individual words that come out of my mouth as much as I work on my overall SELF-CONTROL. I hear a lot of you saying that you feel it’s ok to let words like this slip every now and then in certain situations, but for me I try to look at it more from the “how can I walk in self-control so that if and when someone cuts me off in traffic that my initial reaction is to love them, not curse them.” I mean, unless they tbone you how bad is it really that they got in front of you?

    But still. I don’t know if there is any situation I could possibly imagine Jesus using foul language to make a point. Or even out of anger. I could be wrong, but that’s just me.

    [/personal opinion]

    • June 8, 2009 12:14 pm

      “At the same time though, is there ever a good time to call someone an a$$hole? ”

      then one might ask…is there ever a good time to call someone a freakin idiot?

      to me…its the same thing. where its coming from.

      i wanna make it clear…i dont go around cussing πŸ˜€ really. ive been known to say “minor” cuss words (that, “minor cuss words”, even sounds silly cuz its subjective, it seems) as well as idiot or telling someone “that was a real dumb thing to do”. in each case – they all can be hurtful, destructive and damaging. we have to be mindful and careful with our words just as James warns us. all words.

      • June 8, 2009 1:01 pm

        Yeah, I definitely agree with ya wholeheartedly on the “heart” of this post.

        But would still suggest that the root isn’t just whether we use certain words or not to express inevitable anger in those situations, but that we walk in self-control to keep the inevitable expressions of said anger under wraps.

        Kind of along the lines of the way Jesus put the slam on adultery.

        “Hey, guys who are so tightly wound up about the ‘Law’ … I’ve got one for you. You’ve heard it said that if a dude shacks up with a lady who ain’t his bride that’s a sin. Well, check this out. I’m here to stir the discussion pit a bit and get you to look deeper. If a man even thinks about shacking up with some lady who doesn’t have a shiny ring on her finger, from him of course, then he’s just as guilty of sin, then the dude who actually follows through and does the dirty.”

        To me this is a similar situation. We should take captive every thought to walk in obedience to Christ. Even in the “little” things that our culture around us (yes, even the Christian sub-culture) don’t necessarily think are quite so bad.

        Sure, it’s NOT the word itself per se that carries the “sin.” It is indeed the HEART and SOUL of the person wielding the word. Same with a gun. Same with money. Same with alcohol. Same with just about anything in our lives that we allow to set itself up against the knowledge of Christ.

        • June 8, 2009 1:10 pm

          right on, russ. im in agreement.

          reminds me of the verse i have in my right side bar…

          “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive.” ~ 1 Cor 10:23

          anything can be turned into something that can hinder our growth or cause another to stumble. and this is where we are responsible to seek growth daily.

  17. June 8, 2009 6:19 am

    Firstly, I’m old, and grew up in a house where ‘darn’ was fairly strong language. I never found it offensive when people around me were swearing (as we call it down here), unless it was laced with f-bombs every second word…

    Having said that, I think this is all about wisdom (which is related to the self-control Russ talked about) – “what is appropriate for this situation”.

    In your scenario, obviously it’s wise not to be angry…but in the event that you are angry, the wisdom and discipline implemented in the rest of your life will shape the reaction to that anger…so what may have once been a swear word, might instead become … something more edifying. We’re human, we’re gonna get angry, but we can have control over how anger manifests through how we spend the rest of our time, including the words we speak.

    Still, feck is always hilarious in an Irish accent…or any accent for that matter.

    • June 8, 2009 12:17 pm

      i dont disagree with you at all, david.

      except for the part where you said youre old. psh.

      and feck? on my word…thats funny!

  18. June 8, 2009 6:30 am

    Thanks Tam.

    I think if we cared as much for the lost, tired, and hungry as we do for the errant cuss words, we could change the world in a matter of days.

  19. June 8, 2009 7:07 am

    I have seasons in my life where I let my tongue go. And they are oftentimes accompanied by letting my soul go.
    I am very convicted by this discussion…
    For two reasons:

    1) If our tongues are no different from the tongues of non-believers, we may run the risk of communicating that our lives are no different as well.
    2) I think there are certain words that God does not find funny… For example, damn & hell. I know this will sound harsh, but Jesus died because of what those words mean.

    I was driving with a friend yesterday, and said something “unkind” about someone. I apologized, then flippantly said “I’m going to hell for saying that.”
    What was I thinking? Making a joke about going to hell is not funny, nor is it to be taken lightly.
    and I want to stop doing that.

    Could someone please pass the soap, or maybe just a tong holding a hot coal? I’ve got some cleaning to do.

    • June 8, 2009 12:20 pm

      you have a great point. i think when a believer is “loose” in their time with God it is easy for them to fall back or begin taking on the shape and sounds of their surroundings that may not be all that good, instead of shaping their surrounding themselves.

      i love you.

      and im still gonna say “tammit!”


  20. June 8, 2009 8:23 am

    in brit. lit. in college, i learned that the majority of our culture’s “curse words” are actually not what we think they are.

    ya see, apparently the words (such as the one’s yall listed) are actually derived from the anglo saxon or old english language . and when the normans invaded in 1066 a.d., the new language of the ruling class or upper class was norman french.

    the ‘ordinary’ class still spoke anglo saxon, but the words were looked down upon and labeled as “bad”.

    the result today? our version of cuss words.

    “a word is a word is a word.”

    agreed. sorta. cussing or swearing is not the same thing as cursing. saying “oh hell” is NOT at all the same as saying “go to hell”.

    either way, there are certainly inappropriate times and ways to use the words that we call curse words. they can easily offend, so i think discernment and wisdom will go far in this area. much farther than using the words “just cuz we can” or “because in our hearts we’re thinking the same thing as if we were to use slang.” i personally agree with the idea that it’s more the heart of the person rather than the actual word that is the greater issue. on the other hand, there are often much better words in our vocabulary that i can think of using than most four-letter words.

    although…there are times when nothing else seems to cut it.

    • June 8, 2009 12:22 pm

      “so i think discernment and wisdom will go far in this area.”


      “although…there are times when nothing else seems to cut it.”

      ha! nice way to end your comment πŸ˜‰

  21. June 8, 2009 8:46 am

    I agree with you Tam that it is the meaning behind the words that counts, and the context they are said in.

    I am a product of the 1950’s, and have never been comfortable using words that were considered “cuss words” in that era. I say all those words in my head, but not in public conversations.

    I do try to use whatever language is appropriate for the group of people I am with. When I was going to the bars in NYC everyone used the F-word, so I did as well. If you want to communicate within a group it is better to use whatever language they do.

    • June 8, 2009 12:23 pm

      “I do try to use whatever language is appropriate for the group of people I am with.”

      because youre using discernment and wisdom. that there is key, in my opinion, to what comes out of our mouths.

  22. June 8, 2009 9:50 am

    Okay never mind the fact that I haven’t gone to sleep YET, but was just thinking as Disney channel is in the background…what does Hannah Montana really mean to say when she says, ” Sweet Nibblets?”

    Anyone got an answer to that?(is that safe to ask?)


    • June 8, 2009 12:25 pm

      hannah montana could be referring to canned corn. seriously…i have seen cans that say sweet nibblets on them. i think its green giant brand. of course, she can be using it as a euphemism and turning “good words” into “bad words” – simply by the intent behind them.

      and this is my point of this post.

      • June 8, 2009 7:27 pm

        A little bit like the whole “rooted” thing down here.

        Rooted is a brilliant word, especially in a Biblical context for describing how we as Christians need to be

        Except when you try to translate that to a bunch of adolescent Australians who are far more used to hearing it as a euphemism for intercourse.

        This is also why we talk about barracking for your favourite team…not rooting for them.

        Even typing that makes me feel a bit dirty… 😯

        • June 8, 2009 7:54 pm

          then get this….our next sermon series at church is called…


          uh-huh. its true.

          have fun with that one!


          • June 8, 2009 8:13 pm

            I know…I was tweeting with Ron about that πŸ™‚ He says he’s gonna send me the t-shirt. Ha!

            • June 8, 2009 9:48 pm

              THAT would be so funny!!!

              then i want one with “feck” on it.


              or not.

        • June 9, 2009 10:32 am

          here you go. see anything funny on this page?

  23. June 8, 2009 9:52 am

    As actually being serious though.
    My mom said the F word in conversation to her boss, something like,
    ” You F’ed up but it wasn’t the bad.”
    Um…you don’t say that to your boss, especially a conservitive one.
    Its because of my sister, she is 24 and every other word is cuss word,
    to me cussing IS about anger. Even when people use them when they are joking, something INSIDE them is bothered about something.
    You know what I mean?

  24. June 8, 2009 11:00 am

    “a word is a word is a word”

    Jesus is a word. God is a word. How about we take them in vain? Oh wait… I think there may be a commandment about that. πŸ˜‰

    Its funny that Isaiah, when faced with the Glory of God, could have probably confessed many sins but he confessed this one: “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips.” So if a word is a word is a word.. which words made his lips unclean? (Just like to point out that he didn’t say, I am a man of unclean heart or motivations.)

    Christ had something to say about it wasn’t that goes into a man that defiles him but what proceeds from his mouth.

    Of course, James does a lot of talking about the tongue and how hard it is to tame.

    So, maybe I can muddle this some more… Saul had some good intentions when he decided to do Samuel’s job and start the sacrifice without him.. maybe Uzzah had some good intentions about keeping the Ark of the Covenant from hitting the ground when he put his hand out to keep it from falling… and let’s not forget about good ol’ David and his desire to have a census of the people. Hmm.. all of them probably had ‘good’ intentions but all of them faced dire consequences for their actions.

    I believe that words have power because they convey meaning in context. It was God’s spoken word that made the heaven’s and the earth. It was Christ’s spoken word that brought forth Lazarus and calmed the raging sea. Of course, they are God… but why then didn’t they just think it? One could argue that Christ spoke for the benefit of those around Him when he called forth Lazarus and calmed the sea.. but that just points out that words have power to impact those that hear them. But how do you explain why God spoke the universe into being?

    I have said all of that to say this. We need to be careful about the balance in this matter between license and law. I have only touched on a few of the bits of the bible that have something to say about our speech. If the bible spends so much time on a subject, it must be important. πŸ˜‰

    However, that doesn’t mean we are to be so prudish that we all begin speaking in King Jimmy Slang.. doest thou receiveth mine meaning?

    I think its always good to remember that we can be sincere but we can still be sincerely wrong. That’s why God gave us His word and His Spirit to help us grow. That doesn’t mean that I walk around telling people, “awmmm.. you said a wordy dird!!!” … but it means that I also am not cavalier about the meaning of words.

    Words do have power.

  25. June 8, 2009 11:24 am

    One other thought on this subject.

    If I am hanging a picture and I hit my finger with a hammer and it hurts really, really bad… which is worse to say?



    A swear word?

    • June 8, 2009 12:02 pm

      in my personal opinion…it depends on the situation really.

      for instance…i dont have a problem with eating meat and alcohol. however, i would never serve a t-bone and a beer to a guest who is a vegetarian and a recovering alcoholic. though i would certainly enjoy those things on my own. well, maybe a chicken salad and a mojito is more my style. πŸ˜‰

      anyhoo…if i hammered my hand and yelled out shit or dang-it, to me, it would mean the same thing… a quick reaction/response to pain. although, i would likely yell – shoot-darn, which is just a clever euphemism for shit-damn πŸ™„ now…if i were babysitting my 4 yr old nephew i would be very mindful of my words…even saying dang.

      its a respect issue. im not one who walks around curses. i used to. then i grew up and learned smarter’er words. ive been known to say a cuss word or two. ive also been known to hurt people with my words while never using a curse word. that to me…is much more damaging.

      • June 8, 2009 1:05 pm

        I agree with you.. its a respect issue.

        So why is it not respectable to say a swear word in front of a child but its ok to say it in front of God? (just playing devil’s advocate to this line of thought.. not making any judgments… I think these are very valuable discussions).

        • June 8, 2009 1:14 pm

          God knows my heart. thats why.

          i have, many times, agonized in prayer over my health issues and have said some pretty nasty things. not TO Him – but in His presence. and im comfortable with that…with Him. i feel safe.

          • June 8, 2009 1:45 pm

            There is no doubt that we cannot hide anything from God.. not even our unspoken words. He knows when we want to say that ‘nasty’ thing about someone else or have even thought through what we would say.

            He knows the agonizing questions that we mull over and get angry about in our minds and the emotions that those spark off.

            And I agree with Kota’s assessment that two words that may appear to have a difference on the surface can be just as bad when the emphasis of the heart is the same. Especially in a negative light. (Which is all the more reason we should be careful of not only what we say but the way in which we say it.)

            I don’t know if that always applies in the converse though… meaning, trying to redeem a word by using it in a ‘positive’ light. For example, I have never been in the habit of using the F-bomb.. not to say that it has never crossed my lips, but just saying that I am not comfortable with it. However, I don’t have a problem with people around me saying it because I struggle with the concept of which words are appropriate for which reasons… just like your post has been about. Now.. I realize in some cultures (the irish) it is a common occurrence to hear it spoken. If I were to travel there, I don’t believe it would be necessary for me to utilize that word in order to garner favor with them when I have felt convicted of its usage in my own life.

            One of the verses that I struggle with is Matthew 12:36:
            “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

            Careless is also translated idle in other versions and the underlying Greek word can mean lazy. One of the commentators that I look to for explanation is Warren Wiersbe and he has this to say about that verse:

            The phrase β€œidle word” in Matthew 12:36
            means β€œwords that accomplish nothing.” If God is
            going to judge our β€œsmall talk,” how much more
            will He judge our deliberate words? It is by our
            conversation at unguarded moments that we reveal
            our true character.

            I think ‘church’ people get hung up about words more so than people outside the church. This can be bad but it can also be good depending on the manner in which we get hung up on something and how we communicate our ‘hang-ups’ to people around us.

            For me, there is a clear delineation between saying ouch and saying a swear word… that doesn’t mean it has to be a clear delineation for you. If you and I were laying shingles on a house and both of us smashed our fingers, I don’t think you would care if I said ouch and I am not going to think twice about whatever was to proceed from your mouth. I am not bothered by that.

            But… and this is a big but… what are God’s desires for us? That is really what we want to understand, correct?

            I know He is our comforter and guide and friend… but He is also our King and Sovereign… what kind of speech pleases Him?

            We can talk all year long about what other people do or don’t find offensive, but the true litmus test is what is God calling us to?

            I don’t have that answer.. thought about it a lot… have made some conclusions for my own life, but I struggle with how to help somebody else with their thoughts on the matter. All I can do is point them to scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to help them with discernment.

            Why I am going on like this, I have no idea. Too many idle words, perhaps.. πŸ˜‰

            This is a good topic, Tam. And I appreciate your desire to discuss and raise the question.

            • June 8, 2009 2:06 pm

              thank you for this reply.

              it really does come down to our relationship with God. how important we see Him, take Him to be. our goal needs to be pleasing Him…in word and action and thought…private or public. period.

              thanks, tony!

            • June 8, 2009 11:01 pm

              Tony – thank you Brother for pointing out something important that most were missing in this post. (and probably will continue to miss for a while yet) :-(.

              WORDS HAVE POWER!

              Just because we don’t understand why that is, or even THAT it is, doesn’t change that fact.

              WORDS. HAVE. POWER. !!!

              On the wider subject of our communications, be they with ourselves, our kids and family, all others or just with God, there are THREE parts to our communication and Tam is correctly pointing out TWO important points concerning how we communicate (specifically in swearing/cussing)

              One is WHAT we say – the least important.

              The second is the INTENT behind what we say (the ‘Heart’ of the matter) perhaps the most important, certainly much more so than the actual word.

              The Third, that no-one has yet mentioned or considered it seems, is the WAY we say a word. – What equates to our body language as we say something – the ACTION behind every word. This is as important as the Heart or Intent. (and is also what VERY young kids understand all too well, and will pick up on and copy from us, even if the word is not fully understood by them!)

              When we communicate (speak words) how we behave with our whole body is actually MORE important than just the actual words we use. Part of that is the action we take to make our body produce a word sound, that in combination with the intent behind the word (emotional input) and the actual word being spoken combine into the POWER of each word spoken.

              Few of us ever bother to consider this even though the spoken word was a VERY powerful way of following the Word of God in the Hebrew Talmud and Torah (Old Testament). It remains so in the religion of Islam and in much other religious thought – mantra’s are used to connect directly with the Universal Spirit. Native American’s understand the principle very well.

              Of course since the Bible was originally spoken in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek no swear words used in those languages are the same as the ones we consider to be Swearing in our culture. – so are they really? What do our swear words mean to God (the sounds we produce by repeating them over and over and over until they become a ‘part’ of who we are).

              Certainly the intents can be the same and are therefore to be ‘avoided’ so that our heart/intent remains in line with His Will, but the actual words we use today will have a different power to the swearing that was used in Biblical times.

              Those who take the Lord’s many names in Vain will have to be judged for that sin come the day.

              Words Have Power – even if we don’t actually know or appreciate what that power actually is, by reason of the action, intent and sound vibration each word carries within it – within US.


              • June 9, 2009 6:57 am


              • June 9, 2009 8:07 am

                i thought some, including myself, did hit on the “way” we use our words.


                i talked about James telling us not to use cutting words. imo, a word becomes cutting by the way you use it. apparently that didnt come across.

                but i agree with you…that is also important.

  26. lazrus2 permalink
    June 8, 2009 12:25 pm

    I pretty much agree with what’s been said on the comments (especially Russ’, David’s, and Mandy T’s above )and think they have covered my feelings on the subject of ‘cursing’ when angry. I do believe that negative words impact, especially when they are heard by others (whether ‘witnesses’ or the ‘objects’ of them).

    But I also believe we need to be sensitive to how some words that we think are ‘acceptible’ may not be so to others. In that context, I think Eph. 5:4 enters in here:
    “Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes–these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” NLT

    That reminds me of a term we hear commonly used these days when we’re upset with something: “It sucks!”
    I realize most people who use it have no idea of its contextual ‘origins’. Obviously the word itself has been around for centuries in its’ ‘regular’ use, but if my memory serves me well (some of you other ‘older folk’ help me out here), it’s ‘vulgar’ origin came about in the early 70’s related to a certain X rated movie,”D— T—–“(which I did not see, thank you, though it became rather ‘infamous’ at the time). Then the term definitely started to be used in an obscene sense. Now it seems to have become the commonplace substitute for ‘it stinks'(not a pleasant phrase either but definitely without the sexual implications). Granted, I can accept that word is used by people who have no idea where it’s negative connotation started, but have difficulty with people of my generation who do know but have ‘taken its use on’ to be ‘cool’ and/or ‘relateable’ to the younger generation.

    Question is, when we DO know how such words might impact others (and ourselves once we know more about their ‘meaning’) does it matter as to whether we’ll keep using them or not?

    Even totally innocent words can take on vulgar meanings in certain contexts – so do we engage in that kind of activity too (i.e. “obscene stories” and “coarse jokes”) since everybody else seems to be doing it?

    Yes, it definitely has to do with what’s in the heart, but I believe we may need to take more care about examining our hearts based on what comes out of our mouths (Mt. 15:18-19).

    Years ago, when we were involved in youth ministry, we heard it said (to parents): “What you excuse in moderation, your children will practice to excess.”
    I realize that is not ALWAYS true, but when it is, it’s effects only increase with each generation, especially as we see our culture in its present downward moral slide, I believe.


    • June 8, 2009 12:30 pm

      “Even totally innocent words can take on vulgar meanings in certain contexts”

      exactly. this is what im saying. we can turn anything into a “bad” meaning just by context and intent alone. so it isnt “as much” about the words (although for some words it IS about the word 😯 ) but more about what you make of it.

      and yes…there needs to, absolutely, be a discernment and respect within the the environment one is in when speaking. no doubt about that.

      thank you dana! πŸ™‚

    • June 8, 2009 1:09 pm

      One thought on the origin of the phrase you brought up:

      “Originally, it was a mild insult, putting someone down. It came from the idea of piercing a hole ( or two at either end ) of an uncooked egg, and then sucking or blowing the raw egg outside of the shell, without cracking the shell. Thus the empty eggshell could then be used in some craft activity.

      Since no one liked the idea of having to eat an uncooked egg ( Yukk !! ), ” Go suck an egg !” became a popular male slang insult, similar to ” Go fly a kite !” “

    • June 8, 2009 1:17 pm

      oh and dana…it has taken me the last 20 minutes to figure out what ”Dβ€” T—–” meant. deep throat. ok. got it now.

  27. Chad Davis permalink
    June 8, 2009 12:43 pm

    Society and Culture has always deemed what words are inappropriate. This was much more common when there was a more distinct separation of classes. Elite social classes would turn their nose up to certain language used be lower classes they would deem inappropriate or vulger. I have a feeling it was just another way for them to help separate themselves from the lower classes and feel superior.
    So here we are centuries later and have words that are deemed inappropriate to say (speaking US culture). Not having to do with context, meaning, or use of the word. Just because they are on the naughty list. As soon as a word gets on the naughty list, people will come up with one to use in the exact same circumstances that is just enough different and will not turn any heads or raise any brows. i.e. How many times have you heard someone use “Fetch, or Frick, or Flippin” instead of the F word. What’s the point? They have found ways to express the same emotions using a word not on the naughty list. It is a huge hypocritical and redundant subject that will never change. Now I am gonna get the heck outta here cauz I got a crap load of work to do! (if you were not offended by that last sentence, would you have been if I used hell and s#@t????)

  28. June 8, 2009 12:48 pm

    James said that with the tongue we both bless and curse… and that should not be the case! How can a tongue that speaks blessing also speak cursing?

    Christ said that nothing good comes out of an evil heart.

    Obviously the heart is key… “Dagnabbit!” can be as viscious as the f-bomb in a man’s heart. But… James also wrote that we should tame the tongue. If I’ve gone from the f-bomb to “freakin’ heck!” then I’ve taken one small step to tame the tongue.

    This does not mean that taming the heart is not more important – of course it is. But it also does not mean to let the tongue run amok because we’re focused on the heart. We need to watch over both.

    The Word says to cut out a part of our body if it causes us to sin. The world would certainly be a quieter place…

    • June 8, 2009 12:57 pm

      yes, there is a balance. just as we do not go on sinning just cause we know we’re forgiven. we need to be actively, daily striving for growth.

      thanks, mike.

  29. mommycub permalink
    June 8, 2009 12:55 pm

    I just had this discussion yesterday with my family. Here’s what we came up with:

    1) Humans decided that certain words were “cuss words”
    2) It can be a stumbling block to certain people, so be careful who you are with.
    3) In our culture it has been a sign of level of class or education. Higher up you are, the more inappropriate it is considered to be.
    4) It is a condition of the heart. I always tell the kids if they say, “you’re a fluffy bunny” with anger towards that person, it is the same as any other “bad” word.

    I know of a pastor in Germany that is conservative, but uses the “S word” from the pulpit. It is NOT a stumbling block due to their culture. So I see no biblical reason it would be wrong.

    • June 8, 2009 12:58 pm

      i love your 4 points!

      i think theyre right on πŸ˜‰

      thank you, girl!

      • mommycub permalink
        June 8, 2009 1:02 pm

        You always discuss my favorite “hot button” issues!!! πŸ™‚

  30. mommycub permalink
    June 8, 2009 1:01 pm

    We have to take the Bible in context of the time and audience. Also, we are finding more archeological evidence that allows us to more accurately translate the original Greek and Hebrew. I try always to be careful when using scripture to back things up, because it also says in Psalms to let the poor man drink wine until he forgets his problems. πŸ™‚ (There’s another uncontroversial topic… hee, hee)

    • June 8, 2009 1:12 pm

      oooo…im with you here. even the context of scripture needs to seriously be considered before using it as a “tool”. very, very true!

  31. June 8, 2009 1:15 pm

    I have to admit that while my language was considered “rather clean” prior to kids, it has cleaned up considerably since they started talking… the first time my sweet little 2 year old referenced someone’s “butt” that word got removed from our vocabulary. The other day that same sweet girl (now 8) said that something “sucks” wow. How can I tell her that she shouldn’t say that word when, um, I use it a little *too* regularly myself?

    I have, however, been known to turn around to total strangers in a public setting and ask them to make an attempt to clean up their language since there were young children present (they were dropping the f-bomb every 2 words).

    The one that made life a bit more challenging to some friends & family is when I chose to teach my children that saying “oh my Gosh” was bad. No, you are not speaking the name of God, and yet… Basically I think that the furthest that phrase should go is “Oh My!” since just about any commonly used word after that is a substitute for God (and yes, I consider “word” to be in that category, after all, Jesus is the Word of God). They now call their friends out for saying it – “religious” or otherwise.

    Eric happened upon a website a couple of months ago that gave the origins for a huge % of commonly used swear words. I really wish I could find it again, as I was shocked at the number of words we now use and/or hear daily that are a stand in for using the Lord’s name in vain… Jumpin’ Jehosiphat anyone? yep, a stand in for Jesus Christ. Whooda thunk?

    While I don’t find an issue with slang (as opposed to swearing or cussing) I have found that I have cleaned that up when I take a moment to think about whether I want to hear my kids repeating it. Yes, I say crap, dadnabbit, dang-it, something “sucks”, and even occasionally use the term “screwed” (seriously never made that connection… my dad used the term a lot and he didn’t allow cussing!) But I am careful around little ears.

    I watched that same video last week and found that the majority of what he was calling cuss words are the “minor offenses” that are considered “clean” these days… and that I use.

    Been thinking about it since then… haven’t come up with an answer yet.

    And I agree that in some instances, nothing else really seems to work as well as something that could be considered vulgar. However, those instances are rare (and my kids better not hear it!)

    I suppose we could all be like the characters on Firefly and cuss in Chinese… πŸ˜‰ (I have found myself using some of those, then thought about what I most likely just said… oops!)

  32. June 8, 2009 1:25 pm

    ha! i say oh my word and oh my cow, goodness, dang, darn oh my (everything else). “shoot” i should be more careful πŸ˜‰

    seriously…i think youve done well to be mindful in front of your children. well done πŸ™‚

    many, many phrases and words we use are simply euphemisms. substitutes. and in this generation, the young ones using the euphemisms have no idea where theyve come from. and then those euphemisms will get their own euphemisms, and so on and so forth. words evolving into new words getting new scores of intensity of vulgarity and yet…its still a matter of heart.

    • June 8, 2009 1:37 pm

      Absolutely. The heart is the true matter, however the bible also states that the tongue is one of the hardest things to tame.

      But it can be done, with God’s help. I’m proof of that.

      Am I perfect, heck no! (catch that one?) I have a looooooong way to go! But I have come so far already that I know that He can help – both the tongue and the heart.

      I can only hope that my girls “get it” as well as Kota.

      • June 8, 2009 1:50 pm

        me too, friend. i have come leaps and bounds. and i hope to leap a lot further.


  33. June 8, 2009 1:40 pm

    I don’t know. I do have an issue with how carelessly words fall out of people’s mouths. I commented on this the last time around, and my thoughts haven’t changed. It’s about self control really. We all know what words in our language are offensive…and if we speak them out, no matter who we are with or what the circumstances are, in my opinion, it’s offensive.

    I don’t think that one should cater their language to fit the situation. I am who I am, today, tomorrow and next week. If I’m with a group of friends who are freely using the f word, that doesn’t make it any less offensive for me to use it too. I just don’t believe in “when in Rome…” for every single situation. I don’t think I represent myself well if I just join in with the crowd. Tam you mentioned being cautious around your 4 yr old nephew. To what avail? What is the point? He doesn’t know what the word means, and if a word is just a word, (as you say) and a 4 yr old repeats it with innocence because he heard it from his auntie, what’s the big deal? His heart was right…..see what I mean? (using sarcasm here folks…just to make a point!)

    I look at it this way: If I can’t control my tongue, I need to ask for help with that. Fortunately for me, God removed those words from my vocabulary. Seriously. I am HARD PRESSED to have a swear word fall from my lips or enter my thoughts. I’m working hard with my 8 yr old because of what she hears when she’s not home. I don’t like “what the…?” or “Oh my G_D!” She has heard all of them. She had them hurled at her when she was very little. Those words left marks. Where do we, as Christians, draw the line? And why is it that the line keeps moving? There are reasons those words are offensive, and the meaning behind them doesn’t change because of who you are with or where you are. I agree that there is a condition of the heart to be dealt with when words…any words…are spoken in anger. But words that are spoken carelessly can still hurt and leave marks or impressions…on kids, on strangers, on friends.

    • June 8, 2009 1:57 pm

      because my 4yr old nephew doesnt understand that a word is just a word yet. in other words…i wouldnt say “you suck” (not that i normally do) in front of him because he would get in trouble if he repeated that, say…in class.

      and as far as being in rome. just because some people use the f word doesnt mean i would either, just the like you said. that is not what i meant at all. not even close.

      again…im speaking from my heart, who i am. im not a “cusser”. so i dont have to watch this all that closely. but i will be respectful to others sensitivites when using certain phrases or euphemisms. most definitely.

      and one thing ive learned is…one convictions may not be anothers convictions. does it make one right or wrong. just…different. but…we should all be respectful.

      does that help explain myself more?

      not sure.


      • June 8, 2009 2:20 pm

        I hope I haven’t been offensive with my comment…if so, I apologize!

        • June 8, 2009 2:26 pm

          no, no, no. not in the least. youre speaking honestly from where you are at, from your convictions. you know you can always do that here. πŸ˜‰

          i also just wanted to be clear on where i stood with this whole thing, thats all.

          i love your thoughts, always lori!

  34. June 8, 2009 2:12 pm

    my joj used to yell at us when we were little currey girls and said “shoot”…her response, “you may as well say shit – in your heart it means the same thing”.

    she’s a keeper.

    • June 8, 2009 2:28 pm

      keeper indeed!

      makes me think of something else too. i think we (as parents or guardians, or those in authority) tiptoe around this subject too much. or, maybe im just too blunt in sharing my views with people on these things. i think for her to say…”you may as well say shit – in your heart it means the same thing” – really cuts to the chase. i appreciate people like that.

      • June 8, 2009 4:36 pm

        yeah, except when I sent her a mother’s day card w/ the word “shit” in it…apparently, it depends upon the context πŸ˜‰

  35. June 8, 2009 5:03 pm

    Had a pastor friend tell me how irritated it made him to hear Christians try to clean up their language in a Christianese way. Why say heck when everyone knows you meant to say hell? May as well just say what’s on your heart instead of trying to sound righteous.

    • June 8, 2009 5:24 pm

      i know of lots of non-Christians who prefer to say heck.

      of course….they all do seem to hang out with and/or raise children under the age of 6…

  36. June 8, 2009 5:10 pm

    There are very few swear words that offend me…as long as they aren’t being spoken AT me.

    I worked at McDonald’s in HS. I have to confess that I instead of saying “thank you very much” I would substitute the f-bomb for thank you when someone wasn’t being nice. Guess that wasn’t very nice either. I figured the intercom was so static-y that no one could notice.

    • June 8, 2009 6:05 pm

      That was you???? Just kidding!!

    • June 8, 2009 6:09 pm

      once when i worked at mcdonalds (also my first job) i was working the front counter and taking orders and such and my boyfriend walked in, got in my line, and i flipped him off. dunno why. just did. well, the customer i was currently waiting on didnt appreciate that very much. i got demoted to the grill for the rest of the day 😦

  37. June 8, 2009 6:38 pm

    He is one smart kid. Just like his daddy.

    • June 8, 2009 6:40 pm

      im not gonna say it. im not gonna say it. im not gonna say it.

      im thinkin it tho.


  38. June 9, 2009 5:50 am

    One hot summer a few years back I worked in the construction biz. yep, lil ol music geek me. It was a good job, I learned some skills and had a good boss. We did renovation and general repair work and a few big flooring jobs.

    Anyways, the guy I worked with was from Boston, MA. Very much an fbomb droppin’ northeasterner. He was your stereotypical patriots fan, a big rough neck (but teddy bear) of a guy who was pretty crass, but you always knew where he stood.

    He had just become a Believer and NOBODY told him that he needed to stop cussing. He just knew. I believe we see this happen all the time around us (or maybe we don’t, depending on our proximity to unbelievers).

    A person gives their life to Christ and they just know inside that a lot of the activities and habits they have are not healthy. Not conducive to growth in Christ. I’ve seen musicians totally want to run the opposite direction and never play music again because it so reminds them of how “dirty” they were before Christ. Same with party-ers and drug abusers.

    It’s not that much different with language. No preacher was preaching at him telling him to clean up his act. The Holy Spirit was using this guy’s own conscience to help point him in the right direction.

    Honestly, I don’t think we should be offended when people who aren’t Believers crank up the foul potty mouth, there’s no real reason to (well, aside from manners and appropriateness)…but I don’t think we should get uber-christianese on them and try to Christ-fu them for just being who they are.

    At the same time, PERSONALLY, I do think it’s ok to be annoyed at Christians with loose lips and dirty mouths.

  39. June 9, 2009 1:36 pm

    I have the filthiest mouth you will ever hear. I really try to clean it up.

    Whenever I say “F” around the wife now, she says, “I’m having your baby”….

    It makes me think.

    • June 9, 2009 1:46 pm

      you’ll be mighty shocked how fast your language will change when that baby comes. seriously. not only “cursing” – but phrases and commonly used euphemisms. trust me…it’ll happen πŸ˜‰


  1. 2009 best posts – a re-post on cussing « inProgress

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