Should Christians Cuss?

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As Christians we are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). Paul said, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not" (1 Cor. 10:23) We should not become legalistic about cussing or let it interfere with our fellowship with other Christians. Especially considering that what does or doesn't constitute a cuss word is largely cultural (e.g. some might think "crap" or "bloody" is a cuss word), we need to be guided by the "law of love."

Paul dealt with a very similar issue in his day, except instead of cussing the issue was eating meat sacrificed to idols. He said,

Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Cor. 8:8-13)

The issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols was not a moral issue. There was nothing wrong or sinful about it. But, because seeing Paul eating in an idol's temple might cause one of his fellow believers to stumble, Paul chose to relinquish some of his freedom in Christ for the sake of his brother. Not out of guilt or obligation, and certainly not because he was afraid of offending people, but out of love.

Some Christians only cuss in limited contexts, including around close friends. The question to ask then is are you causing your friends to stumble? Perhaps they may seem cool with it, but on the inside are wishing that you would refrain from saying some words you do. Or maybe they really don't care. Maybe one of them doesn't want to look like a stick in the mud and would never say anything, unless you and he were talking one-on-one about it.

If you're sure you're not causing your friends to stumble, then the next question is, are you causing yourself to stumble in any way by cussing? In my life I have found that using certain cuss words actually leads me into other thoughts that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Perhaps it's as simple as this: you use a few cuss words, and that gives one of your friends the "go-ahead" to start talking about someone in an inappropriate way, and that leads to other sins. Or if you have any friends who think Christians are all fakes, seeing a Christian cuss might perpetuate that belief and become a stumbling block to their salvation.

Years ago I was on a Christian IRC chat channel and someone told me about how they had to change their nickname because it might give some people the wrong idea. The nickname was "BJ." At the time, I thought it was the stupidest reason for changing a nickname. I even argued a little bit about the idea. It seemed such a stretch to think that the name "BJ" would make someone stumble. Why should "BJ" have to change his/her name because it might cause someone to stumble? Likewise Paul could have said to the Corinthians, "If someone is made to stumble by me, too bad." But he didn't. He put his fellow Christians before his own freedom and his own rights out of love and concern for their relationship with Christ.