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Speech, Language, & the Tongue:
What Does the Bible Say about Cursing, Profanity, and Obscenity?


"Four-letter words" are increasingly common in our society. Many movies, books, and television shows are filled with them.

Proverbs 10:32 observes: "The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse." Many people know what speech is proper and what is improper. But since many apparently do not, let us consider three kinds of speech that are Biblically improper.

The first is cursing. Cursing involves stating that we wish harm would come to someone. Romans 12:14 says: "Bless and do not curse."

A second form of immoral speech is profanity: the act of treating sacred things without proper reverence or respect. This often involves taking God's name in vain or using other Bible words in very unbiblical ways! Exodus 20:7 forbids taking God's name in vain. 1 Timothy 1:9 says that profanity is contrary to sound doctrine. Those who love God will speak with respect for His name and all that is sacred.

A third form of unacceptable speech is obscenity: words or expressions that are intended to arouse improper sexual excitement or lust, such as suggestive jokes or use of terms that are offensive to decency. Ephesians 5:4 calls such speech "filthiness." Galatians 5:19 calls it "licentiousness," and says that those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Evil speech can be forgiven by the blood of Jesus, but those who come into Christ must lay aside "all evil speaking" - 1 Peter 2:1.

For more information about various moral issues, please visit our Bible Instruction web site at www.gospelway.com/instruct/ and study our in-depth articles. 


(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 12/2007

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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