Americans curse about five times every waking hour.

According to a report by Business Insider, Americans curse about five times every waking hour.  That is an average of 80 to 90 curse words every day.

 

Below are a few contrasting verses for consideration:

 

  • Isaiah said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”  (Isa 6:5)

It is interesting to note that God would call a man of unclean lips to be arguably the most eloquent prophet in the entire Bible. 

 

  • But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?”  (Exo 6:30)

 

  • For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.  (Jas 3:2)

Interesting to note that James identifies the pathway to perfection by having control of the tongue.

 

  • I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  (Mat 12:36)

3 thoughts on “Americans curse about five times every waking hour.”

  1. For me, I was discussing the subject once with my wife and I feel that the Holy Spirit pointed out to me one of the 10 commandments, "Honor Your father and mother" and I know that some words I had used in the past didn't quite reach that standard in my belief. That was my conviction on the subject. 

    • I have to commend you on that rationale.  When I led youth group, I used to tell the kids that a sign of spiritual maturity was listening to the Holy Spirit and knowing what things you had to stay away from personally because those things put distance between you and God, whether they were an actually listed sin or not.  I feel like a lot of those "not necessarily sins" sins, such as cussing, abstaining from alcohol, not watching R-rated movies, women having to wear dresses, and others were probably things that the Holy Spirit convicted certain people of personally (for you, cussing, for me, watching violent movies) that somehow spiraled out of control.  All it takes is one person with an inferiority complex to believe that because they don't cuss or drink alcohol or whatever, it means they are a better Christian than everyone else and they make sure everyone around them knows it too.

      Pre-pandemic, I preached weekly in a low-income nursing home.  There were so many people who would tell me how frightened they were because they grew up in a church that taught that breaking these "not necessarily sins" was definitive proof that they hadn't really been saved, with the especially common ones being about women wearing dresses and alcohol.  Now that they were elderly, pretty much on their death bed, they were forced to wear pants because of the way they had to be hooked up to a machine or they couldn't swallow anymore so they had to take their meds in liquid form instead of pills and the liquid medicine had alcohol in it.  They were terrified that even though they had devotedly served Jesus for 80 or more years, that they weren't going to spend eternity in Heaven because their health forced them to break those rules.  I always asked them, "Did the Bible or the Holy Spirit tell you that, or just some guy in the church you grew up in?"  It got to the point where I made sure that at least once every month I worked into my sermon a reminder that there is only one thing that determines whether or not you go to Heaven, and that is whether or not you have a loving, devoted relationship with Jesus.  That experience with the elderly just reinforced to me how evil these "not necessarily sins" are when people try to push them onto everyone instead of just who the Holy Spirit spoke them to.

      I wish more people talked about what specifically the Holy Spirit has convicted them of and directed them to do, as you did in this post.  It would help others see that being a Christian isn't just about being handed a list of do's and don'ts and doing your best to follow them, as so many of us do.

  2. Being married to a guy with an English degree who took way more Etymology classes than anyone ever should, my perspective on "cursing" has changed dramatically.  I no longer believe that saying "curse words" is inherently sinful and I especially don't believe that the verses the author gives above do anything to specifically support his supposition.  I have a lot to say on this topic and am very passionate about it, so buckle up, this is long…lol.

    First, addressing the Bible verses, since the Bible is most important:

    1.  Isaiah said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”  (Isa 6:5)  

    I know any time "unclean lips" comes up in the Bible, people interpret it as meaning someone's use of curse words, gossiping, etc.  But consider that there were many "unclean" things that the Israelites weren't permitted to eat.  Wouldn't eating unclean foods potentially lead to unclean lips?  Could he have unclean lips because kissing dead bodies was some sort of cultural burial ceremony?  Unclean lips from oral sex?  It seems manipulative to assume absolutely means unclean from speaking.

    2.  But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?”  (Exo 6:30)  

    I have never understood this to refer to cursing or anything even like that, primarily because the word used, even in the Hebrew, is uncircumcised, not unclean.  Circumcision represents God's covenant with the Jewish people that they would be set apart as His chosen people.  Therefore when Moses says he has "uncircumcised lips", it makes far more sense to me that he is saying either that his ability to speak doesn't set him apart as one of God's chosen people or that he doesn't feel as though he has God's power behind his words.  This is confirmed for me in the next verse where, in the Hebrew, God replies that he is giving him Elohim, mighty and powerful God, and his brother Aaron as a prophet, to go with him to Pharoah.  Thus, this verse has nothing to do with cursing.

    3.  For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.  (Jas 3:2)

    People say a lot of things besides curse words.  God is a whole lot more concerned with false teaching, gossip, worshipping false God's, spewing hate, and revealing hypocrisy between what you say and do (As shown in Matthew 15, in which, as a side note, Jesus uses defecating as a sermon example.  Is that cursing/unclean talk?).  Why would anyone assume this is about saying a word that has culturally been decided to be offensive, especially when we are told to reject worldly culture?

    4.  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  (Mat 12:36)   

    I totally expect to have to give an account for every hateful thing I've said, every dishonest thing I've said, every manipulative thing I've said, and be judged accordingly (Praise God for Jesus or else I'd be in trouble!).  But if God judges me for the time I said, "That f***ing sucks," after a woman told me about her childhood of babysitters, her brother, and her father all sexually abusing her, I'm going to wonder if I even know God or if I've even been worshipping the correct God.  Saying f**k wasn't careless on my part.  That was the right word to communicate the right empathy to the right person at the right time.

     

    Don't misunderstand me.  I don't like cursing.  My dad, who often cusses and uses offensive terminology, always told me he didn't want me to use those words because smart people have better vocabularies and can communicate in a more accurate way.  I totally agree.  People also make judgment calls based on the vocabulary someone uses.  For us Christians, a good vocabulary can make us sound more authoritative, calmer, and rational which is important when representing Christ.  There are times, though, when using the occasional cuss word can engender trust in a group who either distrusts the "goodie two shoes" Christians or who in general don't trust educated people (which is exceedingly common in Appalachia, where I live).  I believe we are okay to do this based on 1 Corinthians 9:21-23, and James 5:19-20.

    And secondly, here are my logical reasons why cussing as sin doesn't make sense:

    1.  Language, and thus cursing, constantly changes based on the whim of popular opinion. 

    The perfect example of this is the word "queer".  I'm 41.  Groups my parent's age or older used "queer" to mean anything peculiar or out of the ordinary.  It was a perfectly normal word.  For my age group, though, queer was a horrible word to use, akin to almost any racial slur, and any use of it inherently implied homosexual qualities onto whatever it was describing, and would absolutely have been considered a sin to say.  So for my parents and definitely my grandparents, a "queer man" would be a peculiar or strange gentleman.  For my age group, a "queer man" was an extremely offensive term to describe a flamboyant homosexual man.  For my kids' generation, queer often cited as the Q of LGBTQ (I've also been told it can stand for questioning).  There are homosexuals that I know who use the word to proudly describe their sexuality (I have a cousin-in-law who says, "I'm here.  I'm queer.  And that's fabulous). 

    I have a 75-year-old friend who was married, has three biological children, and was an Orthodox Catholic priest before coming out as gay in the early 80's after his wife became a paranoid schizophrenic and divorced him.  When I heard that queer was no longer considered a slur, I checked with him to see what his thoughts were on the term.  His answer was, "Hell, I don't know if it's a slur or not.  I was raised by three Victorian grandmothers who used the word when they gossipped about the neighbors having a 'queer' paint color on their house or a 'queer' way they kept their lawn.  In the fifties or sixties, if you heard the word 'queer', you had to take off running because someone was about to get lynched.  In the eighties and nineties, if you heard 'queer' someone was either implying you had AIDS or it was being used in a defamatory way to prove homosexuals weren't entitled to the same rights as everyone else.  And now, I go to pride rallies and people have 'queer' on their t-shirts and painted across their foreheads.  If I find out whether or not it's offensive, I'll let you know."  That pretty much sums up why trying to identify curse words or even hate speech is so precarious.  Think about the new "woke" movement.  They believe giving the "OK" sign is racist in all circumstances.  I think they are ridiculous.  I just learned last week that referring to Asian people as "oriental" is a hateful slur now.  I had no idea, and am not sure how I feel about that yet. 

    Putting it bluntly, it seems like most Christians get their idea of what words are curse words more from George Carlin's "7 Words You Can't Say on TV" than from the Bible.  I love George Carlin.  He was hysterical.  But I'm not going to take spiritual guidance from an atheistic stand-up comic.

    2.  Native speakers of the same language but who live in different parts of the world can't agree on what words are curse words.

    This one is pretty obvious.  In the UK, the words bloody, bollocks, sod off, gormless, bellend, bint, blimey, bugger, wanker, and naff are all considered, by most people, to be curse words.  In Australia, some words commonly considered to be curse words are get stuffed, derro, fanny, bogan, root, strewth, and slagger.  If I say "rooted" in Australia, and then said it again in the US, was it a sin in Australia, but not the US?  God doesn't work like that.  Pharisees do.

    3.  Christians seem fine using substitute words such as "fudge", "sugar", "son of a biscuit", "H-E-double hockey sticks".  If they are said with the same intent as cuss words, are they really any different?

    I always go back to Matthew 23, which I like to refer to as the WWE Jesus smackdown chapter…lol…where Jesus tears into the Pharisees for being hypocrites.  You can have whatever cute, whitewashed, thing on the outside, but if the inside is defiled, the whole person is defiled.  These words are the same way.  The intent is the same.  Either those intents are sinful or they are not.  The word doesn't really matter.

     

    To sum up this ridiculously long post, I don't think saying specific words has any sort of sinfulness attached to them or is necessarily good or bad for Christians to say.  Context is everything, and context requires a search of the heart which is what Jesus teaches anyway.  We should be far more concerned with gossip, dishonesty, hateful speech, and hypocritical speech than individual words we say.  Those things really are "cursing", as in throwing evil onto another of God's children.  That is the sin.

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