In 1927, the Motion Picture Production Code, better known as the “Hays Code”, banned the use of profanity in films. In the 1939 classic, Gone With the Wind, however, the Code was breached with the use of a single word in the closing dialogue. Fast forward nearly eight decades and there is no attempt to stop the cesspool of sinful speech in films. It is not uncommon to hear one particularly sexually explicit and vulgar word used several hundred times in some popular films, such as the recently released Manchester by the Sea and Patriot’s Day, just to provide two current examples. What could be good and meaningful movies are often made vile and disgusting by the use of profanity. Christians are convinced there is a better way and that is to always use wholesome speech.
First, curse words offend. In modern society, many people are no longer offended or shocked by curse words, but some are, and for valid reason. Many curse words take the name of the Lord in vain, or use the precious name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as an expletive. It is only the Christian religion that is used in such a demanding way. “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever” (Psa. 145:21).
Second, curse words make a person sound ignorant, uninformed, and uneducated. It is not unreasonable to think that when a person curses they do so because they are lacking in vocabulary, intelligence, and education. This may or may not be the case. What is certain is that profane individuals are emotionally and socially arrested in their ability to articulate their thoughts. It is possible, and preferable, to express any opinion, sentiment, or idea without using a profane word. “The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned” (Isa. 50:4).
Third, curse words can get a person into trouble. When a person is not careful in their speech, something will eventually be said in an unguarded moment in a situation where such language is completely inappropriate. A careless word spoken in church, on the job, before a child, or to one’s spouse can lead to negative consequences, including physical violence. Those who are the object of profanity may be scared for life. Friendships can be lost, Relationships are destroyed needlessly. Violent language escalates negative emotions, and breeds more violence. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
Fourth, more often than not, curse words are devoid of any real meaning. If the intent is to emphasize something, a profane word takes away from the message and conveys mindlessness, and incoherence. “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Prov. 15:2).
Fifth, a person who curses diminishes themselves, though by using profanity they seek to feel more powerful, dogmatic, and authoritative. When profanity is used, the tone of voice, and body language changes, and not for the better.
Sixth, a person who curses loses their individuality. Thinking to be cool, and like others in society, they conform to a worldly way of talking that does not allow them to stand out and be their own person. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).
Seventh, those who use profanity in casual conversation assault the ears of the innocent, set a bad example, contribute to cultural rot, and weaken meaningful dialogue.
Eighth, those who use profanity are not free. They are enslaved to a habit that diminishes them as a person, offends some with whom they associate, and shows a weakness of character. There is no self-control. “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6).
Ninth, to use profane words is to be self-centered. People who use profanity simply do not care what others think of them, or, if they are offended. A life of self-centeredness is a sad way to live. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6).
Tenth, the use of profanity is a reflection on one’s upbringing. Parents in a former generation had a bar of soap ready to wash out the mouth of any child that was heard using profanity. A good parent, a godly parent is ashamed of their child who uses profanity, at any age. A wholesome conversation reflects good parenting. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
Eleventh, the use of profanity exposes a wicked heart. The thoughts of the wicked produces profanity. “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but the words of the pure are pleasant" (Prov. 15:26).
There is a better way than to use profanity. Use words that are pleasing to the Lord, and good for others.