Swearing & Symbolisn: How to define What’s a “CUSS WORD” or innocent “SLANG”????

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on January 2, 2008

For those wondering why I made this thread,

Once when I was in highschool (a Christian one, to note) where we were required to read information in class where swear words such as the “D” word was used in the literarty text (secular of course)

When I and others stated that we had issue with it, the main response given was that it was simply a word…..part of being realistic and necessary for placing emphasis on something/illustrating something for what it was……and for many other words that people in my school would use such as the “F” word and others, what was often said was that ALL that mattered was the intent of the word & how the culture defined it……and that I was hyprocritical for using other slang terminology that seemed less offensive by nature, such as “Dang” or “Shoot” or “Crud”, but not calling those out as well.

That all said, does anyone have any thoughts on the issue on what exactly makes something either a “slang” word or a “cuss” word?

Should we be offended by cussing and refuse to have anything to do with it, be it in what we read or view in media?

Are there really certain words that should never be used by others at all because they’re inherently evil or is it all due to the way that culture defines that paticular word?

In case anyone’s interested, I was recently doing research on the issue and I came across an excerpt of some insightful things regarding the subject by a man named Michael J. Svigel , Th.M. (http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=3055).

A Few Bad Words of Theological Humor

Conservative evangelical Christians have long been known for shunning all sorts of behavior considered by others to be morally neutral or enjoyable. Whether it’s drinking alcoholic beverages,smoking tobacco products,playing cards, going to movie theatres,dancing,or even drinking coffee, “fundamentalist”Christians are often viewed by outsiders as having a God who is not only a white-clad, frowning prude, but also a “Cosmic Killjoy.”

However, the study of cussing, kakalogology, has a less refined history among Christians in general and evangelicals in particular. This lack of definition has caused many outright offenses and some extremely awkward social situations. These range from blurting out words that sound mischievously like curse words but are, in fact, not,to a teacher or preacher’s hesitancy to utter the word “hell” in reference the place of eternal torment.

What does the Bible teach concerning cussing? Can there be a Christian consensus on kakalogology? How are we to determine, in an age of words that did not exist in biblical times, what is appropriate and what is foul? If the Christian is to avoid uttering certain terms, we need to know what those are so we can at least keep an eye on them. And if there is a world of vocabulary available for communicating God’s message, shouldn’t we also be free to use it?

What exactly is a cuss word? This is a matter of intense debate among scholars and lay-cussersalike, because while some words are considered taboo in certain cultures or countries, others are not. As a mild example, in some families quasi-cuss words include “dumb” and “shut up.” In other families, these words and worse constitute polite dinnertime conversation. Foreigners, too, are known to make all sorts of verbal blunders. In fact, mastering the use (and non-use) of cuss words is a skill that indicates a high level of proficiency in any language.

To Cuss Or Not To Cuss?

Clearly, the Bible forbids something called aijscrologiva (aischrologia), “obscene speech.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech [aijscrologiva (aischrologia)] from your mouth” (NASB). The NIV translates the word as “filthy language.” The KJV has “filthy communication.” The ASV reads, “shameful speaking.” Luther, who is known for his affection for cussing, translates the word “schandbare Worte.”

The question is What does Colossians 3:8 specifically forbid when it tells us to put away aijscrologiva (aischrologia)? The word itself is made up of two Greek words: aijscrov” (aischros) meaning “disgraceful, shameful, dishonest,” and lovgia (logia), meaning “oracles.” In every use in the NT, lovgia (logia) refers to “oracles,” or the revealed message from God. It is not the word lovgo” (logos), which can refer to actual words themselves (Matt 12:36), a message (Matt 13:19), or speech in general (Matt 5:37). So, it appears that Paul is actually forbidding false prophesying.

Putting “Crap” Back in the Bible

Although many liberal scholars and non-Christians believe the Bible is full of crap,there’s actually only one place where the word occurs, though it is often scooped up or covered over by modern English translations.
In Philippians 3:8 Paul tells his readers that all the things of religious value in his former life are regarded to him now as skuvbalon (skubalon), that is, “crap.” While liberals, neo-orthodox, post-liberals, feminists, historians, Methodists, and other heretics may feel obliged to remove “crap” from the Bible by flushing it away with euphemisms such as “rubbish” or “refuse” evangelicals who believe every word is inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16) should refuse to flush. Instead, we should embrace a translation that conveys the rhetorical effect intended by the author, as crass and base as it may seem to our perhaps overly-pious ears (cf. Eccl 7:16).

The King James Version had no qualms about translating skuvbalon (skubalon) with a more suitable—though emotively sub-standard—“dung.”Only Luther had the guts to translate the noun with Kot in his landmark German translation.The problem with translations like “refuse” and “rubbish” in today’s idiom is that the recent movement by earth-worshippers, tree-huggers, witches, Democrats, and other pagans towards recycling implies that almost all refuse or rubbish has some value. Likewise, even “dung” could be construed as having usefulness at least as fertilizer. Only a harsher term like “crap” would indicate the utter uselessness that Paul had in mind.

What does the crap we find in the Bible teach us about our emerging biblical kakalogology? Simply this: that however we seek to apply passages that forbid “unclean” speech, it must be done in such a way that allows Paul to utter the word skuvbalon (skubalon) in reference to Judaistic religious practices.

In light of this introductory discussion toward an evangelical theology of cussing (practical kakalogology), we must conclude with the NT that the utterance of a cuss word in and of itself is neutral (Rom 14:14), that there is nothing inherently sinful about a particular verbal symbol.

Rather, its filthiness or appropriateness is derived from its referent and significance. Paul demonstrates this in his use of “crap” in Philippians 3:8, where the symbol skuvbalon (skubalon), has a metaphorical referent of his former religious practices, with the significance that these practices are worthless.

Pray that this helps to aid the discussion…..and to clarify my stance, yes I do believe that CUSSING IS A SIN.

Ephesians 4:29-30

29Do 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. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 5:1-5

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a]

James 3:9-12

“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.”

Now, perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve always been under the mentality that anything I say should be able to help GLORIFY the Lord and that it should also serve as a way of bringing people closer to the Lord……and if my language is not doing that, then whatever I say is of no consequence.

Even in light of what many may say regarding how cussing is appropiate for the Christian in order to “relate” to those around us, I’m constantly reminded of what the Word says regarding the distinction that is to be made between those living for the Lord and others who are not and how we’re not to be COMPLETELY THE SAME IN OUR LANGUAGE/WAYS, especially in the case of language where certain words may have certain connonations regardless of the culture or the context:

1 Peter 1:16-18

16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a]

17Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,

1 Peter 2:7-12

7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,[a]”[b] 8and,
“A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”[c] They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

And even though I may seem a bit extreme for not wanting to curse in my language, I rather lean on the side of being overtly-cautious than being seemingly too lax and causing someone to sin, love worldliness moreso than holiness, and having that person fall into something against Scripture:

Mark 9:41-43

41I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
Causing to Sin

42″And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.[a]

Matthew 18:5-9

5″And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

7″Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 8If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Of course, I could be off and that’s why I made this thread: To recieve any insights into the situation that might help me better in the subject.

On a different wavelength, have you ever found it ironic that those who do cuss often tell their children not to do so because it is inappropiate, yet they themselves do so continually and still allow their children to watch cussing on the T.V……and even for those who do not cuss, is it not odd that we still tolerate viewing it as if it does not matter?……It’s as if there’s a double standard in that it’s better to hear of cussing than to actually say it, but I thought that either way you’re being exposed to it regardless and it’s going inside of you still….


3 Responses to “Swearing & Symbolisn: How to define What’s a “CUSS WORD” or innocent “SLANG”????”

  1. hi gg, interesting subject.
    i think because using profanity is so commonplace in our culture and has been used on non-cable tv for quite some time, many Christians have become desensitized to hearing it (myself included) and subsequently started using expletives when expressing themselves.(i don’t cuss) there’s no doubt in my mind that cursing is a sign of carnality or ‘worldliness’ in the believer’s life. it’s not edifying speech and it detracts from our Christian witness. even the world expects there to be something different about someone professing to be a new creation. if we have the same speech patterns(or viewing patterns) as those who have not been renewed in the spirit of their minds, what proof is there that our own minds have actually been renewed?
    i agree that the context determines the appropriateness of how a word is used. if we’re referencing Scripture and we use damn, hell and ass then we’re not being profane, however, to threaten to kick someone’s “donkey” or tell someone to shut the h-e-double hockey sticks up, or if a man sees a well built woman and he exclaims “day-um” when she passes by- that’s another story.

  2. Righter said

    Righter agrees with mrs. mav…

  3. Thanks to both for sharing your thoughts. Though I won’t be sharing much on this blog for awhile, some things that were said (specifically on the issue of “proof” as to how we’re different from the World), I’d like for everyone to consider this on the subject:

    Regarding it, like to share some thoughts from Joshua Harris in his book “Sex isn’t the Problem (Lust Is)


    Today’s media, especially television seeks to define reality for us. It wants to tell us how to think about sex, marriage, about our desires, about sin. The danger of not bringing God’s standards to bear in what you watch isnt only that you may see a naked body, but that the values of a sinful world will shape what you’re living for.

    Entertainment goes straight for the heart. Have you ever thought about this? Media never reasons with us in its attempts to convinve us to love lust & sin.

    You’ll never see a CEO of a television network standing in front of a flip chart explaining WHY adultery’s good. But that same CEO might have his company HIGHLIGHT a television drama engaging your EMOTIONS…..& THROUGH THE POWER OF MEDIA, STIR UP FEELINGS/EMOTION to make the act seem appealing, such as in portraying a wife committing adultery as a “helpless victim” OR EXCUSING ANY WRONGDOING ON HER PART because her husband CHEATED.

    Televison and film stir up feelings and emotions that BYPASS our minds and go straight for our affections. The incredible power of media is that it can make something evil look good or exciting without appearing to make any argument AT ALL!

    For a practical example, consider what happened recently with Buynam, who was a televangelist that was caught in an incident of domestic abuse. She has done many damaging things in here ministry and yet people are now folowwing her still. When you think about it, it makes sense….

    SECULAR media ALWAYS presents DOMESTIC ABUSE as something which women are 100% INNOCENT, HELPLESS, & WORTHY OF PRAISE.

    In the case of RELIGIOUS MEDIA, abused women are ALWAYS portrayed as HOLY & beloved of GOD……AND anyone who’s rich/famous or who has a BIG MINISTRY must always have the Blessing of God on their life

    Because folks aren’t bringing God’s standards to bear & GOING SOLEY BY WHAT THEY SEE ON TV, no surprise they’re following BUYNAM STILL …for the media, NOT GOD, has SHAPED THEIR VALUES & defined REALITY for them.

    Also, to add to that, another article on the issue:

    To anyone interested, here’s an interesting article on the subject of Media that may be thought-provoking……

    God created this world with an atmosphere: “the nearly transparent envelope of gases and suspended particles that surrounds the Earth, profoundly affecting and influencing environmental conditions on the planet’s surface.”

    However, just as there is an area that contains unseen particles and gases, so too there is an invisible realm in which spirits—both good and bad—live and function. And in the same way that activity occurring in the air around us affects “the planet’s surface,” the bustle that goes on in this spiritual realm influences humans.

    Supplied with this new evidence, I did a thorough study of this important concept in Scripture, reminding myself that kosmos meant “an ordered existence apart from God.” What became clear to me was that, although sometimes the word refers to everyone living on the planet earth, it is used primarily to describe the corporate consciousness of the people of this world who are in rebellion against God’s authority.

    Kosmos is what binds together the unbelieving world. It is a global mentality that remains a powerful unspoken force in the lives of mankind. It molds vastly different people groups into one entity which lives out its existence on earth under the domain of Satan, unified against God.

    The book is about how the malignant spirit that is behind this global mindset is affecting and deceiving millions of Christians in ways they don’t realize.

    The spirit of this world is constantly striving to lure believers away from a true love for God into a lust for the attractions the world offers. (I John 2:15)

    The apostle Paul made a couple of very revealing statements about the devil in the book of Ephesians. In the second chapter he wrote,
    “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2)

    In the final chapter, he made another revealing statement: “
    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

    These statements contain enormous insight into this invisible realm that surrounds us. When he referred to “air” in chapter two, he was not talking about the “gases and suspended particles that surround the Earth.” He was clearly writing about the unseen realm where devils do their dirty work of influencing and deceiving mortals. The term air is simply another way of describing “the heavenly realms” mentioned in the sixth chapter. Satan and his minions possess some kind of “power” to create ungodly atmospheres within this unseen realm.

    Paul hints at how the enemy establishes these atmospheres when he called the devil, “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Devils have the power to create spiritual atmospheres in certain locales through lawless people that work in conjunction with a person’s flesh to lead him into sin.

    In other words, a tavern will have an environment that is conducive to partying. A prison will have a climate of pride, hatred and violence. An adult bookstore will have a spirit of lasciviousness at work within it. Not only do these locations have something which might tempt a person to sin (i.e. alcohol, pornography), but they also become a gathering place of demonic spirits that affect people.

    I fully believe a person could walk into an adult bookstore blindfolded and still feel a strong, sensuous spirit in the air. That’s why Paul warned believers to
    “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:14)

    Because humans are so susceptible to spiritual influences, the wise apostle in essence was saying, “Don’t even get around those places where sin is available. Not only will you subject yourself to temptation, but you will also expose yourself to their demonic influence.”

    The truth is that we all have to spend time out in “the world.” Perhaps you don’t have to spend time in a godless workplace, but we all inevitably have to make forays into worldly places such as malls, etc. Believers should do their best to take care about where they go and how much time they spend in carnal places.

    It is even more important that the Christian maintains a godly atmosphere in the home. After spending the day amongst unbelievers, being subjected to their ungodly talk, their music, their disdain for the things of God, etc., it is vital that the believer can escape those influences in favor of a godly environment. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that most Christians don’t have much concern about the spiritual atmosphere in their homes.

    There are a number of things that provide an open door for demons to establish their presence within a home: the Internet, radio, magazines, and even newspapers can all serve as conduits for the enemy. However, the most powerful weapon the devil has in his arsenal is the television. It is, by its very nature, a communication medium.

    As such, the enemy can use it at will to subtly (and sometimes brazenly) convey his anti-God mindset.

    Christians who think they can allow the enemy to bombard their minds with a constant barrage of ungodly messages without being deeply affected are only deceiving themselves. There is a reason advertisers pay enormous sums of money for a few seconds of airtime. They fully understand the power that the medium of television has to influence the minds and actions of people. The truth is that television programming is nothing more than the enactment of the deeds of the flesh.:


    Galatians 5:16-25

    Life by the Spirit

    16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

    19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

    How tragic when the very place a believer should be able to retreat to from the corrupting influences of the world becomes the place of the greatest pollution!

    The best solution to this problem is to simply get rid of the cable and/or antenna. My wife and I did this nearly 19 years ago and have never regretted it. We allow ourselves a moderate amount of entertainment through the use of videos. Over the years we have built up a library of Christian movies. We have also purchased some G-rated movies and documentaries produced by companies such as National Geographic. I suppose on the average we watch about ten such programs per month—give or take.


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