Character Of Our Speech
What should be the characteristics of our speech?
Grace, meaning favorable, pleasant, dignified
Seasoned with salt
Seasoned [ARTUO] means to arrange,
make ready. Hence, think before you
Salt makes food more palatable, and
is used as a preservative for meats.
Thus, speech free of corruption.
1 Timothy 6:3
Sound [HUGIES] (from whence,
"hygiene") means healthy.
Controlled, mastery of our bodies
1 Corinthians 6:12, 13
The purpose of this study is to examine various speech forms
unbefitting Christians. A word of
clarification is made at the outset.
This study deals candidly with words that are commonly used in an ugly
way. As the lesson progresses, the
discussion of these words and examples cited are not intended to offend but
instruct. As much discretion as possible
is used, but if the matter is not clearly stated, the student will end up
wondering exactly what kind of language is wrong.
Old Testament Attitudes
Exodus 20:7 …not take God's name in vain…
Psalm 111:9 …holy and reverend is Thy name…
Out of respect, one of the Hebrew's words for God, YHWH, was
New Testament Application
Matthew 6:9 …hallowed be Thy name…
The rich who slander the holy name:
Many people today throw the name of God around like a
by-word or an idle exclamation. We
should speak God's name only when we are talking about Him in reverence or to
Him in prayer.
Note Peter's language in his denial. This was apparently something he was not
accustomed to doing.
Curse means devoted to destruction [ANATHEMA].
Consider the irony of blessing God and cursing men with the
same lips (verses 8 - 10). God compels
us to love our enemies. A faithful
Christian would never wish damnation in hell upon his worst enemies; he would
not even say it in jest.
Flippant Use Of The Word "Hell"
Some have no fear of hell or what it means to go there for
eternity. Hell is real, and it is
sobering and horrifying to think of such a terrible place. We need to take it seriously. It is therefore not a word for us to throw
around mindlessly for emphasis or an interjection. See the New Testament description of hell:
Perhaps it's best to use the word "hell" only when
we're actually talking to someone about the place of eternal punishment and the
need to avoid going there (or when we're talking about not saying it).
Swear not by moon and stars, swear to God solemnly, as in
marriage vows, not frivolously or void of substance.
An oath is essentially the same thing as a vow, as at a
wedding; it's effectively the noun form of "to swear." Some have suggested these passages teach that
a Christian should never make any oath for any reason. However, God himself made oaths:
The point is that we need to think seriously about the words
we say and be true to our words, whether we seal them with an oath or not. Nevertheless, if someone believes they should
not "solemnly swear to tell the whole truth so help them God," then
it would be sin for them to so speak, violating their conscience. There are other ways of saying, "God as
my witness, I am telling the truth."
On the other hand, if we are constantly swearing to God or anyone or
anything else for the truthfulness of what we're saying, it becomes
trivial. This was the point Jesus was
Filth, And Profanity
Matthew 15:11, 17-20
What not to say
Positively stated, this means not
just non-healthy, but rotten and putrid, as dead bodies were
"unclean" under Moses' Law.
Filthiness, foolish talking, and dirty jokes:
"Let it not even be named
among you" suggests not so much as even making mention. There should not be even a hint of making sex
and the body a dirty thing; such is unfitting of Christians.
Ephesians 5:11, 12
These things are not a source of
humor. Abstaining from sexual immorality
(2 Thessalonians 4:3) means we also don't talk about sexuality in a perverted
Curse words and the name of God
are words acceptably uttered in the proper context, for example, when appropriately
discussing the judgment of the Lord.
Vulgar language, however, has a certain vocabulary all its own; there is
never a proper situation for these words to ever come out of our mouth.
Put aside abusive speech, which
includes all things repulsive and disgusting to the senses. Unseemly body parts, bodily functions, and
waste material should not be spoken of out of proper context.
1 Timothy 1:9
The verb form of profane means to take
that which is special and make it common, to make the holy debased, and to make
the beautiful ugly.
Some words formerly not considered offensive are considered
unfitting today by reason of common understanding. To illustrate, the King James Bible was
translated in 1611. Since then, some
words have changed from inoffensive to offensive by reason of their abuse. Several instances are found in the King James
rendering of the following verses. For
discretion, the modern, inoffensive word is shown below:
12:8 KJV ("illegitimate")
Kings 14:10 KJV ("urinate")
We must watch how we use our liberties. We should not think we can use these words
freely in our speech today just because they appear in the King James
Bible. Besides, those words at that time
were used in proper context, not in a perverted way. Consider these points:
Give no offense.
1 Corinthians 8:7, 9-13; 10:32
Our words should not mislead and
encourage others to sin.
Be an example.
If you use words that are
marginally acceptable, others will be influenced by you to cross the line.
Use good judgment.
A euphemism is a word of lesser offense, typically accepted
by society, substituted for a word of greater offense.
What matters most is that which we are actually saying. The primary concern is not what words in
particular we are using but the message we are conveying. If the meaning is the same as if we had used
the word of greater offense, we might as well have used the bad word.
Euphemisms appear in various forms and cover virtually all
types of bad language as outlined above.
Some examples follow:
Variations and sound-alikes
gee, geez, gosh, golly
heck, dang, darn, dog-gone-it
Webster's English dictionary defines
these words to be such substitutes.
Sometimes the substitute word
sounds so much like the overtly offensive one that a person is misunderstood to
actually use it. Think about what this
does to your influence.
God knows what is being said.
Spelling or first letters
A gesture can be considered a euphemism where a symbol is
substituted for an ugly word. (Foreign
gestures follow the same rule). If the
word is unfit for a Christian to use, so is the gesture that means the same
A founding principle to be first learned about morals is
1 Thessalonians 5:22
The word here translated "abstain" means to hold
off from, to have had enough of. The
word for "appearance" means that which meets the eye, the shape,
form, and fashion of a thing. Foul
language is another evil to be avoided.
Euphemisms are a way of getting as close as possible to using foul
language without actually uttering the offensive word. The faithful Christian will avoid it.
How do we make correction?
Speech is easily a thing we do out of habit and without thought. Given this, it is easy to develop improper
speech patterns, especially when the world sees nothing wrong with filthy talk
or euphemisms. God, however, expects
certain behavior from His followers.
You may have improper speech and not be aware of it because
it's a thoughtless habit. Make the
effort to listen to yourself objectively and compare your language with the
biblical principles shown here. Develop
new habits where necessary. It may be a
struggle at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Allow yourself no excuses.
We often hear people say, "excuse my French" after using foul
language. This is nothing more than a
lame apology for a lack of self control.
We all need a verbal "vent" sometimes, an exclamation, or an
expletive. Find wholesome substitutes
suitable for a Christian's tongue.
Increasing knowledge increases awareness. Apply what is learned from this study to your
speech. Take the matter seriously.
Make the heart pure
What comes out of the mouth is an expression of what is
inside the heart. If the heart is full
of only that which is pure, nothing evil even has a chance of coming out.
The word translated "idle" [ARGOS] means useless,
inactive, barren, fruitless, words that do nothing (hence the inert gas,
argon). Remember that as we may use idle
words, we will have to give an account of whether they are harmless or
Don't laugh at dirty jokes
Laughing shows approval; approval is consent; consent is
guilt. We all want to be liked by others
and "fit in." Do not deceive
yourself into thinking you can just go along passively participating in such a
thing. Though the joke may not come out
of your mouth, you share the guilt.
Choose carefully your associates
Better yet, try to avoid even hearing dirty jokes in the
first place. The bad speech habits of
others are easily adopted by us if we hear them constantly. When you can, modify your environment to
lessen your exposure to foul language; separate yourselves.
And Questions For Discussion
is using the word "God" for mere emphasis in our speech wrong?
is it wrong for a Christian to swear or make an oath?
a man's speech when he is around only men be any different from when he is
around women and children?
a crisis or disaster ever justify using bad language?
certain occupations or situations justify using foul speech?
is the real difference between using the word "God" and
"gosh" as an expletive in a sentence?
is the real difference between using the word "hell" and
"heck" as a curse in a sentence?
can you know if your language is acceptable to God?