[Disclaimer: bad words are written out in this post are for the sake of example and to warn people not to use them. I do not agree with the normal use of any of said words outside of discussions such as this one].
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”-James 3:6
Many people use euphemisms, a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
For example, we sometimes say “they passed away” instead of “they died” because the first seems softer and less harsh than the latter.
Obviously, euphemisms aren’t always bad, they become bad when they are used in place of a bad word but still mean the bad word.
Words like “crap”, “dang”, “frick”, “heck”, and “B.S.” etc. are all substitutes for what we know to be much harsher words from vile and not-God honoring meanings.
A lot of people argue that words such as the ones above are okay and that even swear words are fine, however, in the Bible we are told that:
- Our speech should always be gracious. (Colossians 4:6)
- Christians need to be set apart from the world. (Romans 12:2)
- Our words need to build others up. (Ephesians 4:29)
Do words that come from vile origins and often mean terrible things glorify God?
Do they build others up?
Do they show non-Christians around you that you are living for the Lord and not for yourself?
“But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”-James 3:8-9
Now that we’ve touched a little bit on swear words and their euphemisms, let’s talk about taking the Lord’s name in vain and the euphemisms for it that I hear Christians using all the time.
- My goodness
- Goodness gracious
- Oh my gosh
- Good grief
- Gee whiz
- For crying out loud
And many, many more (here is an extensive list of euphemisms that come from taking the Lord’s name in vain that I found: https://www.topical-bible-studies.org/21-0008.htm) all are euphemisms for “Oh my God”, “Jesus Christ”, “God damn”, “Jesus”, and “God”.
All of these words originate from people disrespecting our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and yet, so many people exclaim them without a thought.
Sadly, it’s very easy to be ignorant or slip into it from being exposed to it all so casually, before I was a Christian I said a lot of those words on that list even though I have always loved God.
A good friend of mine, who is a strong Christian, was one of the first people to really lay out what all the euphemisms were for me. She’s typically one of the most cautious people I know when it comes to her speech which is why it shocked me to hear her exclaim, “Oh, my goodness!” one afternoon. I didn’t say anything, assuming that it was a mindless slip from being around non-Christians for work.
When she said it again another day, I asked her why she was using a euphemism.
“I wasn’t using “goodness” in place of “God” though,” she said.
“But, it’s already in the place of God in that phrase. It’s a substitute.”
I could say “drat” thinking of oops, but it doesn’t change the meaning already attached to that word.
As Christians, we need to be honoring God, and taking His name in vain either directly or indirectly isn’t honoring.
We shouldn’t be using substitutes for terrible words and phrases, and sometimes when we typically use those words, we shouldn’t be talking at all to begin with (James 1:19).
“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,But he who restrains his lips is wise.” -Proverbs 10:19