Is Swearing Sinning?

The English language’s collection of four letter words are extraordinarily popular. They’re peppered throughout our media and can be overheard just about anywhere you have someone upset or angry.

But is it alright for Christians to cuss or swear?

I’ve heard passionate appeals from Christians on either side of the issue (and heard from others who think we’re wasting our time making it an issue). What about you? Do you think that swearing is sinning?

Here’s a perspective on cussing/swearing from

Question: “Is it a sin to cuss / swear / curse?”

It is definitely a sin to swear (curse, cuss, etc.). The Bible makes this abundantly clear. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” First Peter 3:10 declares, “For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” James 3:9-12 summarizes the issue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

James makes it clear that the lives of Christians—the “brothers”—should not be characterized by evil speech. By making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and cursing come from his/her mouth. Nor is it characteristic for us to praise God on one hand and curse our brothers on the other. This, too, is uncharacteristic of a true believer.

Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God, praise for Him and love for others will pour forth. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Why is it a sin to cuss / swear / curse? Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man” (Romans 7:22), which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we swear and curse, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. Thankfully, our great God is “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When this happens, we receive a new nature from God (2 Corinthians 5:17), our hearts are transformed, and our speech reflects the new nature God has created within us.

Read the article at Question: “Is it a sin to cuss / swear / curse?”.

Share your thoughts!

37 Responses to “Is Swearing Sinning?”

  • jamie 17 says:

    I’m a christian and I need prayer for things that come out of my mouth at times.

    • bea says:

      hi jamie!

      i had a question to ask. is prayer enough to change your ways? ask yourself.

      if you want to change, don’t just stick to a prayer, instead. do it for the Lord. or at every end of the prayer just say in this i pray in Jesus name amen!”for whoever ask through His(Jesus) name shall be heard”. even you pray but you don’t have any effort, it’s useless.

      i said do it for the Lord. why?
      when Jesus died on the cross, isn’t He sacrificing for your sins? so sacrifice yourself to the Lord. do everything in His name. Let go of yourself and let God flow through you.

      maybe I’m just a little of my age of 13, but then I let Jesus Christ go through me, in fact, it’s a lot of change. I’m on your situation too, but I say to you this. LET GO AND LET GOD.

      have a great reflection! and a great day also.

      “100 years from now, it wont matter if you got that big break, or you finally traded up to a Mercedes; it will greatly matter, 100 years form now, that you made a commitment to JESUS CHRIST!”

      • Angel says:

        I just want to encourage you in your strong faith at such a tender age. You have great insight and wisdom. Remember “don’t let anyone look down on you because of your age” including yourself. :) He has clearly given you a Word to speak to others. What an example you are! Keep up the faith and obedience.

    • Parrie says:

      Look at the history of swearing. (The 4 letter type.) It’s a class system separator. The upper class uses these words & the lower class uses those words. They’re just words.
      The real concern is cursing people with word curses, such as, ‘You can’t drive.’ Or ‘You’re so hopeless at spelling’ or ‘You’ll never amount to much’ or whatever. Speaking death over people.
      And ‘not swearing’ as the bible refers to it… that’s because our HONESTY should be such that we don’t need to swear to have people believe us. (I swear on my mother’s grave.) Nothing to do with 4 letter words.

      What intrigues me is that we as Christians seem to get so hung up on people’s language & if they’re sinning or not, that we over look what the good book is talking about & miss the heart of the issue.
      This person isn’t in Christian culture coz they swear, sure. But this person has issues with their heart coz they say damn? That’s a worry. In New Zealand & Australia they say damn from the pulpit. It’s not a swear word there. What we class as swearing is cultural. What really pollutes is the heart behind our words. If we hit our thumb & say damn – I don’t think God blocks his ears. I think He’s more concerned about your thumb. If we tell someone they’re a hopeless dancer… where’s the love in that? Without love we’re a clanging gong & a hollow cymbal right? The world knows us by our love?
      Look to the root of the rules, not the rules themselves.
      All of the bible is based in love. (God is love)
      If we’re not looking at the rules through the eyes of love, we’ve missed the point all together.

      • Jen says:

        I agree with you about the fact that what is in our heart is the most important thing. What comes out of our mouths is an overflow of the heart. Here are a couple of points/questions for you to chew on:
        If Jesus hit his thumb, do you think he would have said the same thing? I don’t. I’m sure they had “swear” words back then, too, and I’m sure Jesus did not use them.
        As far as it goes, you’ve picked a swear that’s a little less offensive to people. What if you dropped the n-bomb when you hit your thumb? What if the man next to you is offended when you say that, and you cause him to struggle because of it?
        Christians are supposed to shine their inner light so that the non-Christian world can see it. If you’re a Christian and you swear a blue-streak in front of some non-Christians, are you really shining your light? Are you showing them how different a Christian is compared to those in the world?
        Just as a side note…Before I became a Christian I swore like a truck driver. I was in a blue collar kind of profession, so it was totally accepted by my peers. Now that I have become a Christian it has been very difficult to curb my tongue. I’ve gotten to the point that I really don’t swear unless I’m really angry (overflow of the heart), but I’m not satisfied with that. I want to be as pure as I am able. I don’t think I’ll go to hell for swearing, but I do think that God is pleased with the fact that I am trying to change that about myself.
        Thanks for reading this.

        • Rick says:

          Simply put, if the intentions put on your heart are not good when the words come out of your mouth, you are swearing. Even nonbelievers know that it is a sin to swear. When a slip of the tongue occurs and others hear me, they judge me and question my beliefs and if I even follow Christ. Because of this, they are discouraged.
          When people ask why I don’t curse or don’t drink, I am given opportunities to spread the word. However, if we swear, and these opportunities are taken away, aren’t we sinning right then and there?

  • Veronica says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I will pray for you my friend! Before I was a Christian I had a very foul mouth, then when I met my future husband who was a Christian said to me once which is directly from the bible, “what’s in your heart comes out of your mouth”, and from that moment on if I did say something foul it was an instant hurt in my heart and I quit swearing from that moment on, talk about a miracle! Shortly after I became a Christian, I still obvioulsy fall short a lot, but God is working and changing my heart everyday! All praises to God!

  • jesus reigns says:

    hello i had a crazyy swearing problem too, and it was really hard to quit even though i fixed my eyes upon God the whole way – but i’m clean now, purified by His grace! we may swear alot when we’re frustrated and so on, and it seems to help us feel better but it isn’t worth it at all if it makes God sad. only He can make us really ‘feel good’ by taking away all our worries, and really, swearing’s no answer to our problems. everytime i even hear one of those swear words i used to throw around i feel so dirty inside. you can do it too!

  • Denise McDaniel says:

    I was angry with someone yesterday and I used the d–mn word. It’s not a really bad curse word but I was so convicted about it this morning that I was crying as I was praying. Filthy language definitely doesn’t glorify God and neither does anger. Now I understand why the scripture says that anger does not bring about the rightousness that God desires. I was really bad with cursing before I started following God, but I changed all that until I became angry which lets me know that I have to work on controlling my anger and not allow myself to be baited by someone looking for an argument. God is able to change all things and I know he can change this too.

  • Frannie says:

    I don’t swear, but I am extremely critical of and oftentimes rude toward others when I passionately when I encounter inefficiency. Anger is a sin as well, and I have a lot of it. I need Jesus to change my

  • Questioning says:

    Question: Can what we consider dirty words be used to build others up?

    • Angel says:

      I have a question for you… if you consider a word to be dirty, how would it build someone up? Please consider 2 Cor 6:14b-15 “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[a]?” when answering.

  • Bob says:

    The one thing that I note about these ‘swearing/no swearing’ arguments is that people seldom take it to the extent that passage intends. If certain words were bad or good, I’m sure it would have been laundry listed as often is the case in the bible (i.e. murderers, idolaters, etc). What is being said here refers to the attitude of your heart – and in that context it’s saying *anything* you say that doesn’t edify – from jerk to [expletive] – is wrong. When he says “we curse men and glorify God” – the word curse there means to “cut to pieces.” I could call you a “hammer” in anger and make you feel bad… is it okay because I said “hammer?” I note that the people who make us feel the worst about our diction are often those who simply use a different set of words to accomplish the same goal. And in addition to that – Jesus died for all sin – even the sins we haven’t committed yet … therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. We shouldn’t dwell on our failures – we should learn from them and move on in the power that God has called us to move in. I’ll end it there! :-)

    • geotom says:

      This is my third attempt to get this done!! Being a poor typer, this getting ……. frustrating (just curious how did you fill in the blank) what we hear stays with us and can come back to hurt us and our witness.
      I personally have gone years without using any of the harsher curse words, unfortunitely this is no longer the case. Those years were spent working in a ministry where I could go weeks without hearing even a lesser curse word, so this is not a prideful statement but just a example of how are words effect others.
      Whether we want it or not we are witnessing to the lost everyday, just one curse word, harsh criticism of another, or any non christlike action can have a lasting effect on the salvation of those around us. I did for the most part appreciate your take.

  • Ali Thompson says:

    But who decides what is a swear and what isn’t? It seems so arbitrary sometimes…like if I just went to the bathroom I can say I pooped, or I excreted, but I can’t say that I took a sh**? What is the difference in meaning? What makes one a swear and not the other?

  • AKamerer says:

    Interesting perspective could be an example of cherry-picking verses out of context to suit your needs. Heck, Paul swears. The original word used in Philippians 3:8 does not translate well as “dung” (KJV). “Dung” is a pretty watered-down word choice.

    Anger and frustration aren’t sin. Jesus gets angry (seven woes of the Pharisees; tables of the tax collectors) and frustrated (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”). You could argue hatred, condemnation, and judgementalism are sin, but not emotion.

    I would argue that “You’re going to Hell” is a much more potent curse, is much more unwholesome, AND more deceitful than any of the four letter expletives in question. Sometimes a four letter word is the most authentic thing to say! Yet, a lot of Christians are pretty big fans of throwing that 4-WORD phrase around… don’t believe me? Just ask any homosexual you may know. And yes, in the verses, “Curse” is meant a literal “Curse,” not a “curse word.”

    The article also argues, “Words reflect the heart, and therefore swear words are evil.” Well, yes. So, if we can agree that words are just words and the condition of the heart is what matters, why does this only work one way? Words we arbitrarily define as swear words are now often used simply for emphasis, not necessarily in negative context. If I were to say “God, you are ——- awesome!” have I praised God or cursed him?

    Just some thoughts to chew on. Judging people for their word choice can come across awefully legalistic, and history hasn’t shown this to be the best way to share God’s love with his prodigal children.

  • lawandas says:

    AKamerer & Ali Thompson those are very interesting views! i have a issue with cursing when mad im trying to overcome. so many say its a sin but i believe its more so my anger taking over vs sin. so many curse words have different meaning that “man” has changed the meaning for negative like B__ch is a female dog, H_e is a garden tool etc. Whor_ is in the bible to describe the women who sleep around so how sinful is it when its the bibles definition. i belive cursing esp in women just doesnt “look or “sound” right. i want to stop because i want change but i dont think at least i hope im not hell bound for it!! please pray for me!

  • Austin says:

    First of all, I believe that sin is manifest in our daily lives, not in individual actions commonly referred to as “sins.” Sin is something that is a part of us; we are depraved. Without God, we can do nothing but sin. In fact, nothing we do is good, but only what God does through us because of his grace. I don’t believe that we should waste our time with classifying certain actions as sins. Jesus command us to love God and love others, and that is what we should focus on. Anything we do in love for other people is of God, whether that means using curse words to communicate our genuine grief over injustice done to our brothers and sisters, or grabbing a beer with our friends to share in their grief. You see, sin is a matter of the heart. Sure, if you curse someone you are violating God’s command to love and lift others up in encouragement. Yet nothing is “righteous” or “sinful” by nature of what it is, but by nature of the heart.

  • June says:

    I find swearing non productive. While in college I learned that the sounds SH . . D..F. . and G were stress releasers. I have found words that have thoes sounds and use them not in a cussing or swearing way but as stress release. Sugar Shack is one that when I say it I remember the place and am thankful I am a Christian. I do not use it in any negitive way, just a way to release built up energy I do not want and a reminder of how thankful I am to be a Christian. I believe most people (especially young ones) even know the true meaning of the words they are using, otherwise they might not want to use them. What is the meaning of a word spoken? Is it used to hurt someone, describe something or just get rid of tension? Can we find some other way to do thoes things or should we be doing them?

  • Brian says:

    Everyone here seems to be arguing the “specifics” of what a cuss word is or how you can go about saying them without sinning…
    Look, what is in your heart comes out of your mouth.
    If what came out of your mouth has any foulness or pervertedness to it, or anything that is not of God,it is a sin.
    The biggest thing that should limit the words of your tongue is how it affects your brothers and sisters in and out of the church.
    You could be a “sold out” Christian, but you drop some explicatives or even constant complaining around co-workers, etc., one begins to wonder the true condition of your heart.
    You may be the only Bible some people ever read. Be an example by starting with your mouth.

  • yvonne says:

    When you are an actor and your in a movie or if you are in a theatrical play and some one writes a script that has cussing, and you are a born again christian and can not change the script but this is how you pay your bills and you have to use cussing in the movie what can a person do if this is there profession? Are they disobeying the word? have they backslide? I know for a fact that person really loves the Lord but they are in this situation.. a can some one give some advice on this matter….. thanks

    • Jesusgirl says:

      I believe that ideally someone should not compromise in a situation like this. God will know the condition of their heart if they take a stand against something they believe is wrong and He will bless them for it. Say this person chooses not to take on this project because of the swearing in the script. I believe that God will bless them with something better. The only thing is it may not come straight away so it will also be a matter of faith on the part of the person.
      Two scriptures come to mind: Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” If a person in this situation is concerned about the money I believe they don’t have their eyes or faith on God. They would be trusting in their job to provide for them rather than God. James 4:4, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” I believe this verse is exhorting us to not compromise on what we believe. If we have been convicted that God does not want us to take certain actions then ideally we should not compromise on this.
      I guess my advice would be seek God earnestly in prayer on the issue, stand strong in the Word and ultimately stand for what you believe to be right.

    • anny says:

      DAN.3:1-30 (SHADRACH,MESHACH,AND ABENNEGO)please read the story. what we as christains need to understand is that the world will always try to get us to bow down by Compromiseing our Excellence and integrity in Christ, making us of no effect.I have a problem with bad language my self at times. Should I think it would be ok if I got paid for it.
      Certainly not. You can not serve to masters, both God and money.I find getting paid for it more disturbing then the actual bad language its self

  • Hannah says:

    I Think wether you are using a swear word in a bad way or not it can really hurt your testimony. People are supposed to be able to look at you and see a difference. We are supposed to represent Christ. When people see us swearing what is that doing to are testimony to others.

  • Richard says:

    Hello My Brothers and Sister in Christ!
    We all need to on a daily basis look at our lives inwardly. I believe God’s Word to be the only Truth left in this decaying world today, and if we sit and argue about words that are spoken it is a waste of time!
    I believe if we would concentrate on what is in our hearts, and making sure there is no hatred and anything that is not of God then we should do fine. We as the body of Christ must also be concerned to walk circumspectly before God, and at the same time not be worried if we will make a mistake because we all make them too. We are saved by God’s Grace, and that we must always remember none of us deserved this… If one would concentrate on being kind to everyone that we come into contact with daily, and going out of our way to be a blessing than we will find that the less cursing will come forth from our earthen vessels. Remember God spoke the world into existence, and I know it was with power and His Love, so we as an extension of His body need to make sure we do the same afterall we are to be imitators of Him! If this world forces us into their mold then we need take another look at ourselves inwardly once again, and ask ourselves “Will what I am about to do or say in work or outside of work bring Jesus honor?”

  • Cheri says:

    To me, swearing is not what God had planned to be in our vocabulary. Satan tempts us away from the things of God in many ways, and swearing is one of them. Everyone knows ‘swear’ words from other words and even children know they shouldn’t use them.

    Why does society call them “adult language” or other wrong behavior “adult behavior”. This has always been confusing to me. Either it is OK or it isn’t. Swearing is for the purpose of putting an emphasis on anger. I find it very demeaning to be sworn at and it hurts my spirit, as well as God’s Spirit who lives in me. This may be why this person does this as they know it hurts me and uses these words deliberately for the purpose of hurting me further. Yet, they say they are a Christian.

    I agree with those who say what is in our heart comes out of our mouths. If a person has really made a commitment in their life for God there WILL be a difference from the way they were before.

  • Jill says:

    I think this depends on the context of the situation that we’re looking at. For example, when a person is in therapy, and working through severe abusive childhood issues, and needs to express their hurt and anger at their offenders, often (and I know this from personal experience), there aren’t any words that fit the hurt and wounding as much as certain swear words do at that time. I go to a Christian counselor also, and he does not discourage me from cursing if I need to during the sessions.

    I think God understands the place where each of us as individuals are at, and takes that into account. Jesus Himself was criticized for hanging around tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners, and I would guess that at least one or two of them cursed sometimes. I do think it is important to be holy, and to try to become more like Christ, but the thing is that for most people, that’s a process, not an immediate thing. When I hear a fellow Christian criticizing or judging another Christian or non-Christian for cursing, gossiping, or any other sin, it is much more offensive to me than the other person’s cursing because it seems to discount the grace that God shows to us all.

  • Renee says:

    So here is another question… If saying “I’m really angry”, “Shoot”, or “Dang it”, “Butt” is ok, then what is wrong with the so called “cuss” word that means the exact same thing? I basically grew up in a bar. Not a great place to learn your vocabulary I agree. The problem… that is where I learned my vocabulary. It took people at school to tell me that those were “bad” words. If in your heart those mean the same thing, then why is one bad and one not? I have children and I try really hard to not say thiose words in front of them because I don’t want them to have this battle. I think that Christians can be too legalistic and push people away. Think of it like this… Next time you say hi to someone pretend that it is now a bad word and you can only say greetings. It is changing a vocabulary. Tell me how sensible that is.
    In our house we focus on teaching our children to not say “stupid”, and “shut-up”. Why you ask. We feel that those are degrading terms. We teach them that Jesus wants us to treat others with respect and love. I think that Christ looks at our hearts, not what society thinks is “cussing”. Just my thoughts

  • Charlotte says:

    It is definitely a sin to curse. People hear you and if you claim to be a Xian they listen at you. You can save yourself and your hearers by your words and actions. You will know a tree by the fruit it bears. Our words come from the heart–out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Can you imagine Jesus using four letter words?

    • Tiffany says:

      Charlotte, what did you mean by “you can save yourself?” Your words and actions are not what saves you; only Jesus can do that! And, actually, I can imagine Jesus using swear words. When he called the Pharisees a brood of vipers I’m sure it wasn’t a compliment. What’s interesting that the only people Jesus ever got angry with were the religious leaders who thought they were better than everyone else. Don’t look down your holy nose on people who swear, just because it’s something you wouldn’t say. It’s more important to your Christian testimony that you listen to others and try to understand them.

  • anny says:

    I’ve struggled with potty mouth for a long time
    it’s the condition of the hart and mind that causes the problem.
    If i become enbitterd about something then i have a problem with not only my mouth but with my actions as well. when your embitterd there’s something gratifying about being ugly. so in my opinion, what I say and do is not the problem as much as what i think and feel, cause what i say and do stems from what i think and fell. I’m being as honest as i know how to be.

  • Tiffany says:

    On the subject, “Is Swearing Sinning?” I believe it depends on the motive of the heart. Who decided what words were “bad” words? Some of the words we use as swears today were not in the least bit offensive a few years ago, and some of the words that used to offend are now so common place that no one cares anymore. I think “unwholesome talk” as the scripture says is not about a particular list of words, but whether you intend to offend someone and are purposefully trying to tear them down.

  • epoxy'ponye says:

    Consider what Paul said about vegetarians in Romans 14. at the end, he says, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
    So in general, if what you’re saying cannot be justified by faith, abstain. Also, if you do approve of swearing, keep it to yourself and don’t wave your tolerance in other people’s faces lest they be led astray.

  • Torfi says:

    if the mind behind the words we say is not of good will, it is sinning. You know what I’m talking about? Take a look at Psalm 10:7-‘His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.’ My conclusion is that if the words we say are from a evil mind and not from a good heart, we are speaking the wrong way towards GOD and therefore men to even if they don’t care. Words are from the heart and mind and they are sins if they do not come from the Spirit of God that if supposed to be in us. And God then decides if our words are good or bad no matter what the laws and ways of men say.
    God richly bless you all and may the Spirit of The Most High lead you through our Lord Jesus Christ

  • Dr. Drew says:

    The Bible refers to ‘swearing’ only in the sense of ‘I swear to God’ or ‘I swear on a stack of Bibles’ and tells us not to do so and not to swear upon heaven or things of earth… let your yes be yes and no be no (Matthew 5:34-36, James 5:12).

    The idea of ‘cursing’ is not the same as when grandma told you ‘don’t curse’ when you said a ‘swear word’. Cursing is the opposite of BLESSING someone. The F word is not inherently sinful any more than the word ‘you’ is inherently sinful. However, put those two words together and the general outcome is likely to be the ‘opposite’ of blessing someone. This is what the Bible refers to as cursing, which OFTEN takes place under the deceitful cover of words such as ‘darn’ or ‘jeez’ (perceived ‘harmless’ by Christians, yet involved in as much ‘cursing’ as many so called ‘swear words”).

  • Qwestkid says:

    I like this blog it is backed by biblical facts . my pastor always says “When the Obvious sense makes the best sense every other sense is nonsense” so, yeh, when you think about the scriptures provided why go any further. it makes perfect sense Sinning =swearing . Thank God for The Holy Spirit and Jesus’s blood!

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