When people swear, what should Christians do?


I’m reading a nonfiction library book, written by a non-Christian, and a few times someone the author quotes takes God’s name in vain, the way non-Christians do.

At least I think they did. Some prior borrower has marked the words out in heavy black ink, so they’re unreadable. Then another borrower re-wrote what I think are the original words back in, between the lines.

I know God tells his people not to take God’s name in vain. I’m not sure God has told his people to deface public property if someone who doesn’t know him has done taken his name in vain.

What do you think?

In an unfortunate follow-up, I have to report that LifeWay Christian stores have decided to ban the sale of the movie “The Blind Side” from their stores because some of its characters use language that is slightly representative of non-Christians living in poverty. I say “slightly representative” because I’ve spent a fair amount of time with non-Christians, poor and wealthy, and the language used in this film barely ticks the “unsanctified language” meter.

You know I’m not in the habit of offering a humble opinion, so I’ll just be straightforward. When a film is produced that depicts people of faith who go into the belly of the beast to rescue the perishing, and people of faith ban its sale because it depicts the beast, the people banning the sale have to be short on faith. If they had a strong faith and experience in real world support of people with real needs, they wouldn’t be concerned about whether God’s people, empowered by God’s spirit, could stand up to flickering images of a world God has told us is corrupt. 

These anxious Annies and Andrews don’t seem to be the kind of faithful who go out to rescue the perishing. They seem more like the kind of people who sit on the dock and wait for the perishing to wash up close so they can urge them to pull their bedraggled selves up onto the shore.

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About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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5 Responses to When people swear, what should Christians do?

  1. yalandarose says:

    just telling someone isn’t going to stop their behavior longterm. i think if Christians act like Christians consistently, our behavior will hopefully be more effective than our words.

    • I’m inclined to agree. People who aren’t empowered by the Spirit of God aren’t supposed to be able to live consistently in accordance with God’s ways. On the other hand, those of us who are living by God’s power are supposed to do differently.

      • Isela says:

        Ok so im only 14 but im going to live for God soon and try to follow His words . But i used to be really bad and i used the Lords name in Vain but now i try not too and i try to hold back my Language. But anyway when i goo to school i know some people that use the lords name in vain and some people dont belive in God . And i hear so many swearing and it Just bothers me . I dont know what too doo ? :/

        • Isela, you know that if it bothers you to hear people speak badly about God, it bothers God much more. The best ways to deal with these things are (1) to pray in secret about things that other people do that you think displease God; (2) talk with another person who is trying to follow God about the challenges you are experiencing yourself, so they can pray with you and encourage you; (3) find a group of other people who want to live for God so you can all help and encourage each other, and find things to do together that will make God happy. Keep on reading. I hope I encourage you, too.

    • So true! And certainly more effective than expecting them to change *their* words!

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