Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 15 No. 11 November 2013
Page 2


Foul Language

Louis RushmoreApparently every language has them—bad words. God, through the apostle Paul, in Colossians 3:8 regulates the use of foul language—prohibiting the children of God from using such in their conversations. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (NKJV emphasis added). Other translations read “filthy communication” (KJV), “shameful speaking” (ASV), “obscene talk” (ESV), “abusive speech” (NASV), “foul talk” (RSV) or “filthy talk” (YLT). The Greek word ‎aischrologia appearing as “filthy language” (NKJV) in Colossians 3:8 is a compound word meaning “vile or base conversation or words”; it appears only in that verse of Scripture.

Ephesians 4:29 provides similar instruction. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (NKJV)—“corrupt communication” (KJV), “corrupt speech” (ASV), “unwholesome talk” (NIV), “evil talk” (RSV) or “corrupt word” (YLT). The Greek word sapros, translated “corrupt” (NKJV) means “rotten or worthless” and comes from another, related word that means “to putrefy.” Seven times sapros is translated “corrupt” and one time “bad” in the King James Version of the Bible.

Ephesians 5:4 continues with this type of admonition regarding bad words. “[N]either filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (NKJV emphasis added). The Greek word aischrotes for “filthiness” means “shamefulness or obscenity” and only appears here in the New Testament.

Notice from the passages already cited that foul language is only one type of sinful words that may come forth from one’s mouth. Angry, hateful speech, likewise, is condemned (Colossians 3:8), as well as is “foolish talking” and “coarse jesting” (Ephesians 5:4). Generally, James 3:2-12 identifies the human tongue or speech as often faulty or sinful. Furthermore, it has always been a grievous sin to take God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

How should we assess the foregoing information? Overall, especially the Christian’s language ought to be free from speech that lacks moral or sexual restraint, devoid of obscenities and cussing or cursing—swear words, not characterized by crude or base jokes, and not regarded as senseless, foolish or silly words.

Another category of bad words is the euphemism. This is when more agreeable words or sounds are substituted in place of vulgar language, but which are intended to convey the same offensive message. For instance, when using the name of God in vain, one might say “Gad” instead of “God” or say “Geez” instead of “Jesus.” When swearing, one rhymes the sound of foul words, using non-words.

There are several circumstances in which one may find himself or herself that promote the use of foul language. These are situations into which the child of God ought not to voluntarily place himself or herself. (Both sexes are employed in this article because the use of foul language is not a sin limited exclusively to one gender.) Two of the biggest temptations to pervert one’s speech are: (1) Evil companionships or bad company can corrupt our mouths (1 Corinthians 15:33). (2) Use of drugs or alcohol often leads to additional sins, including foul language.

Anyone who will not censor himself or herself, Jesus Christ will condemn in the great Judgment. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV). Obviously, then, one’s speech is a serious matter since it will affect where he or she spends eternity.

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