An area that some Christians have different beliefs and behavior is about whether or not Christians should use curse words.
It probably doesn’t take much thought to know where you fall on this particular question, either unequivocally, no, or, it’s not really a big deal.
Your belief may have several origins, and either be long-standing or new, or have fluctuated over years or decades, or been different ways with different people in a different context, or entirely the same for as long as you can remember.
Before I attempt to give an answer and before I can really feel like I’m responsibly wading into these waters, I think it’s vital to have an agreement on what it means to be a Christian.
To be on the same page, that we’re all coming from a similar place with that understanding is imperative.
Once we have a biblical understanding of how God identifies Christians, that’s really the only person whose opinion matters. Once we settle on that I think we’ll be able to more easily tackle questions about the kind of language we should or shouldn’t be using.
In 1 John 2, there’s a passage that quite clearly lays out what it means to follow Jesus, be a Christian, and what God looks for in people that he would identify as Christians.
1 John 2:3 says:
“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. If we keep His commands, whoever says I know him but does not do what He commands is a liar. And the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him. Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
This passage even echoes something that Jesus says over in Luke, Chapter 6, verse 46, where in response to some people calling Jesus “Lord”, He says, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?”
So, a couple of things here, right?
There are really two things that God looks at that are requirements for being a true Christian or a Christian as God seems to define Christian.
First, you have to obey God’s commands.
That’s not something that is up for debate.
If you’re not willing to obey God’s commands, if you’re not willing to do what He says, then you just are not a Christian. That’s just how it is, right?
That would be like saying that you are an employee, but then whenever you’re asked to do something, you refuse, or you say, “No, I don’t really feel like doing that today.”
After a while, the boss is gonna fire you. It’s just kind of the nature of working for someone. It is how the definition of “employee” has its meaning.
It’s the same way with Christianity: You cannot be a Christian and choose not to live by God’s commands.
The second thing that I think really jumps out is at the end of the passage we just looked at it says: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.
Notice the phrase here: It’s not whoever claims to live in God. Whoever claims to have a relationship with God should probably go to church sometimes or should be a nice person, right?
It says they must live as Jesus did, period.
That’s the end of the sentence.
God’s commands us to live like Jesus because believing in God — meaning the God of the Bible — just going to church and being a nice person does not make you a Christian, right?
You can do all of those things and never follow God or never follow Jesus.
I want to really clearly spell this out: A Christian is a person who obeys God’s commands and lives as Jesus did. That’s it.
So, should that person use curse words?
Should someone that is obeying God’s commands and striving to imitate, imitate Jesus used curse words?
Well, not according to Paul.
If you look at Colossians 3:5, Paul says this about the life that we should be living as Christians.
“Put to death. Therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways in the life you once lived, but now you must also rid yourself of all such things as these anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Paul is saying here — and the reason he’s kind of laying it out this way is when you become a Christian — is that you have to leave your old life behind.
You cannot follow Jesus and obey God’s commands while also continuing in your former way of life.
Paul puts filthy language or cursing right along the side of things like sexual morality, greed, and rage.
In Paul’s mind and in God’s mind, filthy language, swearing, cursing, coarse jokes, those things have no place in the life of a Christian.
If you are really focused on obeying God’s commands and following Jesus and living a life just the way that Jesus did, then filthy language should not be a part of your life.
At the end of the day, I just want to leave you with this: You can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to follow and which parts you want to ignore.
It’s all or nothing, but considering everything that God is offering to us in return — namely forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in heaven — it’s really not too much to ask for us to obey his commands and to be like Jesus