This one is on bad words.
You've heard them. On the streets. In movies. Maybe even out of your own mouth. They're frowned upon in respectable company. Bad words. You may have made up some substitutes of your own, like, "shoot," "dang," or, "gosh." I've struggled with this for a while, maybe you have too. Is it okay for me, as a Christian, to say these bad words? Everyone else is saying them. I work at a fast food joint. For me, "everyone" means my coworkers. Even my brothers and sisters in Christ let it slip sometimes, when they become frustrated or angry.
But is it okay?
At first I was adamant. NO! Why would anyone say those awful things? I hung on to Spencer W. Kimball's quote, "Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly." I didn't want to be a feeble brain! But as time wore on, I questioned myself. Those words did come in handy when I was mad. Should I re-evaluate them? I remained in this state for a while, hoping nobody would ask me for my opinion. I certainly wasn't going to say those words, I was in the Christian bubble! I went to church, I was involved in the youth group, all of my friends were Christians like me. If I said anything remotely close ("Oh my gosh!" "It happened, I swear.") My family would frown. No. I wouldn't say those words, but I wasn't sure what to think of people who did. Were they committing wrong when they said them?
I finally made a decision. I wouldn't say them. I had begun to grimace at their taste, anyway. And there were certain words that should never be used by anyone. Taking the name of the Lord in vain, obviously. I added the F-bomb to that pile as well. God created intimate relations as sanctified and holy. In dropping the F-bomb, we are taking what he made holy and grossly disrespecting it. The other bad words were just nasty things to say to me. Others could use them. Just not me.
Although this was a decision of mine, it wasn't the final one. This was.
When Jesus was giving the sermon on the mount, He said,
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[d] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[e] of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15)
Let's look at the point: anger at someone equals murder. It's not a word yet, but it's a sinful feeling.
Now, words only have as much power as you give them. I can say, "octopus" all day and not have it mean anything. I'm not telling you there's an octopus in the room, I just like saying octopus.
But remember what I said about bad words? They come in handy when you're mad. If you say these words in anger, you give them the power of anger. The power to hurt and destroy. This is not what we Christians are here for! Ephesians 4:25 gives this advice,
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
There we go. So, no matter what you say, a word that rhymes with witch, or a fartknocker. It doesn't matter if it's a good word or a bad word: do not say it in anger! Our purpose as Christians is to build up, not to tear down.
So, you may ask, is it okay to say these bad words as long as I'm not angry when I say them?
I would say you're pushing it. You just really want to say them, don't you? I guess you could, but this leads me to something else.
Why do you want to say them so badly? If you want the approval of your coworkers or friends, I need to make it clear that we're not here on earth for the sake of pleasing our peers! As Christians, the one person we should be seeking approval from is Jesus our Lord!! Would you say those words in front of Jesus in hope of His approval? No way!
While we may be looking for the approval of one, we have a huge audience. It's your family. Your friends. Your coworkers. Everyone who sees you. What do they see? Do they see just another average joe, who doesn't really differentiate from the guys they were getting drunk with last night? Or do they see someone who is filled with love, kindness, peace, joy, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control? They may not know why you are like this. You're always happy. Why?
Brothers and sisters, don't taint the world's view of you. As it says in 1 Peter 2:9,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Let's live up to these impressive titles, guys.
Ps. For further reading (links):
The Trouble with Cussing Christians
Spencer W. Kimball's Quote
Top 7 Bible Verses About the Power of Words