By Justin Torossian
It’s hard to find a Christian who believes there’s nothing wrong with swearing. But what about slang?
Slang is a normal part of every language, and there’s nothing wrong with most of it. For example, we call potatoes “spuds” or ask “What’s up?” However, some slang words carry sexual or other vulgar connotations. As Christians we need to think about the words we use, and say only what’s in line with the purity of the gospel.
In the Bible, Isaiah says: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20). I believe this passage applies to slang words too. The third commandment says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7) While most Christians won’t use God’s name as a swear word, many take His name in vain euphemistically—without even realizing it.
In the early 1600s, a religious reform movement called Puritanism grew in England. Then in 1606 the English government passed a law against using the name of God or Jesus ‘jokingly or profanely’ in plays. To avoid hefty fines, writers like Shakespeare began using “minced oaths” (euphemisms for curse words) in place of God’s name. Minced oaths became so popular, that when a ban on swearing was enacted, people were already taking God’s name in vain through euphemisms.
Many “minced oaths” are still with us today. For example, “Gee” or “Jeez” was first used in 1598, and “My Gosh” in 1757! Words like “heck” and “darn” fall under this category as well. In 1941, a U.S. federal judge threatened a lawyer with contempt of court for using the word “darn!” That’s how tolerant we’ve become of bad language!
God’s desire for us is simple: “Let your speech always be with grace…” (Colossians 4:6). When Isaiah saw a vision of God, he exclaimed, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). Maybe you feel like Isaiah and you recognize that your speech is below His high ideal for you. If so, be encouraged! The story didn’t stop there for Isaiah, and it doesn’t have to stop here for you. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:6-7 ESV).
God is just as willing to remove impure speech from our vocabulary as He was to purge Isaiah’s lips. Will you let Him cleanse your lips today?
Click on link to see list of examples: (Warning: site contains offensive words) www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/minced-oath.html.
Justin Torossian is pastor at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Exeter. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org by calling 559-909-0965.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.