Why There’s No Such Thing as Christian Swear Words

When I was young, I far too regularly employed the “acceptable” Christian swear words of the day. Regrettably, I even used God’s name in vain. Today it pains me to think about it. Not only was it wrong then, unnecessary words are now an old habit I need to deal with, and as much as I’d like to completely be free from uttering any oath, the reality is that if I do something stupid, I am still prone to utter a word, which while perhaps acceptable even among Christians, is not honoring to the Lord. It is a sin.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Chances are, you too use some of these words. I hear them almost everywhere, even from pastors in pulpits. I get the feeling many Christians don’t even try to avoid coarse language or cussing. Somehow our “freedom in Christ” gives us the right to demean His name. But isn’t that statement itself contradictory? In Christ we have freedom from sin, not freedom to sin.

If we really, truly love someone, shouldn’t we do our very best to honor their name, rather than dishonor their name? If anything even faintly resembles dishonoring your loved ones, doesn’t it raise your ire? If that is true, shouldn’t anything that even faintly resembles dishonor of our Lord and Savior give us pause? Certainly, it causes the Lord pain, after all He has done for us, that we’d diminish His name, as we so often do.

That is what seems so strange to me about it all – why is dishonoring God with our words considered ok? I suppose one could understand why the world, which is opposed to God, may do that. But why the Church?

What I’d like to do is take a look with you at some of these “acceptable” swear words. It’s hardly necessary to list using God or Jesus’s name in vain directly. Those words are so obviously wrong, and if you don’t believe me regarding those words being wrong, there is no way you will believe me regarding derivatives of those words. But, consider the below sampling of words that are supposedly acceptable, when the reality it is clear that saying these words is taking God’s name in vain.

Now, with some of these words or phrases, such as “man of days,” you may be too young to remember when people commonly used this expression. I’m old enough to remember when “man of days,” and other words like that, were commonly used, and as such, it is easy to see how the following words developed.

Gosh = God

Geez = Jesus

Jeez = Jesus

Man of Days = God

Man = Man of Days, or Son of Man

Oh My Goodness = God

Holy [anything] = Replacement for “God”

Do you see the pattern? Who is good (as in “Oh my goodness”)? Only God is good, that much is Christianity 101. We all know that, yet somehow this “family friendly” swear word has become a Christian household, acceptable exclamation-at-will. Many other things, such as three-letter abbreviations using God as a byword have sadly become accepted as well.

What about “man”? How frequently that word is used. Yet, don’t think for a minute that when someone says “man,” it’s referring to a human being, but rather to God or the Son of Man.

I don’t suppose I can change the world with this one blog post. But, I hope it made you think. If even one pastor, or one father or mother, or one son or daughter even, decides to honor God, rather than demean God, some progress will have been made. Please join me in honoring the Lord’s name today.

– Jeremiah Zeiset

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. (Matthew 15:11)

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

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4)

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated into any other language.”

Comments 14

  1. Thank you, I read your blog post during our morning time reading for our homeschool. My daughters and I are so very glad we did. Thank you for this.

    1. You’re very welcome, Isabel. It’s a blessing to know that you read the blog post with your daughters! Hopefully it helps for the rest of you and your family’s lives!

  2. I personally never liked the seldom used anymore “the Man upstairs”, but that “OM_ ” one that is rampant even from most Christians drives me crazy! I too am guilty of some of the others and will try *God-willing* to do better for my Lord and Saviour! Thank you for this article!

    1. I didn’t even think about that one. My grandmother used to say “Oh my time” in German, which I assume means the same thing as “Oh my days.” I don’t know the answer to that one, although I suppose our time and our days isn’t our own, but the Lord’s, so… I don’t mean to stress anyone out about it either, but yet at the same time, I have a desire to honor the Lord and that is what drives me to examine my heart, and my words and my actions.

    1. Thank you for the correction, Cindy. I appreciate that, and made the change.
      As to an exhaustive list, I’d rather people add that in the comments below. My thinking is actually that it would be better to eliminate exclamatory words completely, at least that is what I endeavor to do myself. There is really little need for words of explanation, to me it is merely habitual and unnecessary at best.

  3. Hi, so glad I clicked on this. I have always wanted to know but I already knew that God doesn’t want us cussing and having a nasty mouth especially women. I know the verses and also the one that says don’t let no corrupt talk come from the mouth. Same thing but it confuses me how they think it’s OK. I grew up cussing bad so it’s been hard but I have stopped a lot of it and when I say the little cusses the holy spirit convicts me right away and I say oh sorry lord but it grieves me. So, thank you for this and God bless you ✝️ 🙏

    1. You’re very welcome, Lisa. For me it was when I became aware of what I was doing, which was partly at least due to cussing pastors, that I realized that I want to change. It’s uncomely, among men as much as women. I’m not sure why we think it’s strong men should speak vilely. Strong men control their tongue, is what scripture says.
      – Jeremiah

  4. I have thought about this myself and I’m glad I bumped into this reminder. I’m struggling with it–old habits are hard to break–but when I catch myself, I apologize and ask the Lord to help me.

    1. Lynda, and He does. It’s taking a while, but I’m enjoying not having to feel bad after I say something, when I do have the victory over my tongue.
      – Jeremiah

  5. “when the reality it is clear that saying these words is taking God’s name in vain.”…..therein lies the problem with your article, your definition of “(taking) the Lord’s name in vain”. Exodus 20:7. This is the third commandment that is given to the nation of Israel. It says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
    When you translate this phrase from the original language is, “You shall not TAKE up the name of God [in vain]” or, “You shall not bear the name of God [in vain].” What this verse is saying is that God’s people are His image-bearers. Do not “bear” his name or call yourself a believer and then behave in a manner that would dishonor God. To use God’s name in vain is by using His name for their own benefit. We take the Lord’s name in vain when we take advantage of others for our own gain.

    1. Hi Brian,
      Thank you for your comment. You know, I didn’t refer to Exodus 20:7 in the article, as I was thinking of something different than you were, but I did mention other scriptures. Did you see those scriptures that I referenced? There is such a thing as taking God’s name in vain in the way you mentioned, but don’t you think it’s just as shameful to use God’s name as a byword, something we utter when angry, etc.?

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