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Should Christians be Using Foul Language?

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The Bible is clear that words matter. How we say things is important, because our words are a reflection on us and on God. Foul language may be something Christians skim over, but when we use these words what example are we setting to those around us? Do we really sound like good Christians when we use profanity?

What Language is Considered Foul

We all hear foul language from time to time, and for many people we have become completely desensitized to the language itself or at least some foul language over others. Some people consider profanity only to be taking the Lord's name in vain, because it violates the third commandment. Some find that they will only use cuss words that appear in the Bible, but others find even substitutes for well-known curse words to be foul language, because the substitutions are based upon vulgar language. In other cases, foul language to one person may not be foul to another. Words that offend or cause hurt or harm can be just as foul as most recognizable cuss words.

What Causes the Use of Foul Language

Foul language usually comes out of some frustrating situation. It can also just be part of the local vernacular. There are some people that don't realize a word is a curse word until they live outside their hometowns, because it is just part of daily life. Yet for most people, they slip into using foul language in situations that make them angry, frustrated, or disappointed. Sometimes they are used to add gravitas to a confrontation or even to show off. Many teens fall into a habit of using foul language to sound more adult. Sometimes the vulgar language is used to hurt others by demeaning or diminishing them.

Why is Foul Language an Issue?

There are those that believe words are just words, so foul language means very little. Yet the Bible tells us that words really do matter. We should not speak out of anger or speak rashly, but God reminds us that we need to think about what we say, because it does have an impact on others. Few people will tell you that words don't hurt sometimes. They do. They also matter when we're trying to be God's light to others. What kind of example are we setting when every other word out of our mouths involves some sort of vulgar language? There are alternative ways to express ourselves without offending God or others. When we use the Lord's name in vain, we are showing Him a great deal of disrespect. Yes, it may seem like just words, but it really shows more carelessness.

How to Break the Foul Language Habit

God asks us to lift each other up, not bring each other down. When we use foul language we do little to honor those around us. We often use the words to cut one another down. We draw attention to the darker sides of ourselves verses the light of God. If you find yourself falling into a habit of using curse words, here are some things you can do to stop:

  • Identify when you swear the most. Knowing your triggers helps you identify when the temptation to use foul language is greatest. Next time you hear yourself swearing, try to identify what caused it.
  • Listen to how others express their frustrations. Not everyone uses curse words. Try to listen next time someone is frustrated. See how they express their frustrations without using foul language. Get others to help you realize when your vocabulary takes a turn for the worse.
  • Study your vocabulary. Sometimes we use foul language, because we just don't know how else to describe a situation. Learning new words and ways to say things can open up your vocabulary enough that foul language isn't necessary.
  • Use a substitute word. Habits can be hard to break, and often habits are broken by substituting a good thing for a bad thing. Try using an odd word in place of a bad word. The more ridiculous is sounds, the more likely you will be to break the habit.
  • Create consequences and rewards. Some people find that creating something like a "swear jar" where they have to put in money to donate to charity every time they use foul language works. Others use rubber bands on their wrists to snap when the curse words flow. Still, some find positive reinforcement more effective, and they give themselves rewards when they go for a period of time without cursing.
  • Forgive yourself. Realize that you are a person and not perfect. There will be times that you'll slip up. Learn to forgive yourself and try again. Breaking the habit of using foul language isn't easy, but it can be done.
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