Do Christians Use the F-Word?

Can you tell, just by how a person dresses or speaks, whether or not they are a Christian? Blossom, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

I thought the title might get your attention, and in answer to the question, which actually should look more like this:

Can you use the F-Word and still be a Christian?

I’d say, I sure hope so, or I’m toast, you know — burn, burned, burnt.

There is a prevailing belief among many Christians that swearing, or using vulgar language, is evidence that a person is not actually a Christian, because

” . . . out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12:34-35)

If someone swears, the thinking goes, then this is a clear indication that Christ does not live within him, because if the person were truly a Christian, he would not swear. Based upon this premise, a delightful Christian man, who for many years served as an elder in a church, has a surprise waiting for him at the end of life because one time, when he was chasing a recalcitrant cow around his field, he muttered under his breath a word describing what comes out of a chicken, and I’m not talking about eggs.

Up to that point, we had always been a bit nervous around this man, because he was so good, but when we overheard the imprecation, we redoubled our efforts to bring down that cow.

God’s grace enables us to live without fear that we will be constantly rejected for our shortcomings. Give Us This Day — Grace poster by Steve Henderson Fine Art

At the base of it, vulgar language is nothing more than words, and if you don’t believe me, watch British television and see if you can figure out when they’re swearing (as long as you’re not British, of course, because you already know). While we obviously share a language, including several common vulgarities, we also differ — think “biscuits” instead of “cookies.”  So there will be British sailor terms that mean nothing to me, because I have no cultural association with them.

But to my American ears, they sound so funny and funky and innocuous: “Oh, biscuits and fish! You wonky-tonking ploppet you! Ennervate off!” (I sincerely hope I haven’t accidentally used any real vulgarities.)

Even if I have, is my Christianity jeopardized? And how about yours, if you have played around with a British accent or a French accent or a Tunisian accent and imitated some of their naughty words, which mean nothing to people outside the culture?

But back to the F-word which yes, is a vulgarity that is highly offensive to some, not so offensive to others. You can go down the line all the way to GolDangIt, which we all know stands for something else, and some people use it with no problem, and others do not — so based upon the language choices used, which of these people are Christians, and which are not?

Our walk with God is just that, a journey that takes us to a new place each day. Catching the Breeze, original oil painting and signed limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

This is a question that you can’t accurately answer based upon extremities — language, hair style, length of skirt hem, food choices, the list doesn’t end. While it is true that Christianity brings about positive changes in our lifestyle, the changes that really matter are the ones we can’t see, or hear.

Look at that verse at the beginning of the article — while vulgarities spewing from our mouths aren’t necessarily good, civilized, or evidence of our capacity for effective word choice, there is something that is far, far worse. It looks like this (say it softly, as if you were talking behind somebody’s back):

“I’ve heard, you know, that their eldest daughter is . . . sleeping around. Bless her heart. She’s so confused, but then . . . given the lax way that she was raised, it’s not surprising.”

All people are precious in God’s eyes. Are they in ours? Bold Innocence; licensed open edition art print at Great Big Canvas.

That, my friend, is evidence of vile and bile spewing from this person’s heart, and the damage created by this observation is far greater than any vulgarity. One simple sentence, without a single swear word, has managed to reduce and demean several human beings to the status of dirt.

It’s not that vulgarities don’t matter; it’s just that they don’t matter as much as what we think. As tempting as it is to judge somebody harshly based upon what they say or how they dress or whether or not they attend church services, that’s not how God does things.

Mercifully for us.

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6 Responses to “Do Christians Use the F-Word?”

  1. Thought-provoking words. I have to agree! I actually swore like a sailor when I was not a Christian and worked in a heart surgery suite. We all did, so I am really shaken when sometimes a crude word come out of my mouth. But, I know it doesn’t affect my standing before the King of Kings because He shed His blood for me and that is what the Father sees when He looks at me! But I would be so ashamed (and guiltier, I think)if I defamed someone! Great point!! Blessings to you both, Carolyn :)

    • Jacqueline — thank you. You have a balanced, mature approach to difficult issues, and your grace shines through. This is so important, because as people are seeking truth, they are looking for evidence of the love and grace we talk about, in the lives of the people doing the talking.

      It is such an awe inspiring concept — our standing before God, because Christ stands in front of us, for us. — Carolyn

  2. Jana Botkin says:

    I find swear words to be uniquely satisfying to use. However, I work to find better words because the brain exercise is good, because I don’t want to sound like a stupid person, and because I’m a little frightened of having a stroke one day and only having swear words remaining in my vocabulary!

    But, but, but . . . it is a relief to hear someone like your elder friend swear. And I know the women in my Bible study feel relieved and amused when I swear – keeps it real, instead of fakey-holy.

    Gossip is vile. Whenever someone prefaces a comment with “I probably shouldn’t say this, but. . .” I usually say “please don’t” or “You can stop now and both of us will be better for it”.

    • Jana — I must say that I’ve never thought about having a stroke from that perspective, but it’s definitely food for thought! I’m thinking that your brain has so much activity and creativity and thought going all through it, that it will always give you something worthwhile to say.

      I like your attitude about language and grace, and I can see where your real-ness would be an important factor in a Bible Study, keeping it all human, tangible, and reachable. And I think your reaction to that sentence, “I shouldn’t say this . . . but,” is a good one! — Carolyn

  3. I like your attitude too. Glad I found this post. I was so trained not to use “bad language” that it just cannot come out of my mouth…..and, I’m sorry to say, I do judge it. And, yet, at the same time, when I hear someone I KNOW is really,really, really good like my elderly aunt or mother say a little “bad word” it make me know they are human and I love them even more.

    • Sandra — I’ve always believed that this is one reason God gives us family — because we love them so much, that we are willing to stop and re-think when they hurt us, or do something that we think is “wrong,” or flop around and fail somehow. And they do the same for us. As we practice on those we love, we are able to see what acceptance, love, tolerance (a sadly and badly overused word) look like, and extend it then to those outside our family.

      It is good that you recognize the sense of judgmentalism that rises in your heart when you hear a bad word — we all have these triggers of things that bring that ruffling of our judgment muscles, but when we see and recognize our attitude, we’re able to move on. What’s that verse — the heart is deceitful in all things, and dreadfully wicked? It always seemed so harsh, but then when I started to realize how easily I can toss aside the feelings of goodness for ones of pride, I began to see what this verse is talking about. Thank you for finding me — I hope you will regularly be back, pass me on to others, and keep commenting! A lovely weekend to you and yours — Carolyn

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