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Are Christians allowed to swear?
Thank you for your question about swearing. While the Bible does not talk about swear words as such, there are principles that we can receive from the Bible that can help us on this issue.
Throughout the Bible, words have great power. We see that it was by the words of God that he created, saying throughout Genesis 1, "God said...and there was" (for example, Genesis 1:3).
In the New Testament, we see Jesus using the power of words to deliver people from unclean spirits and to declare that their sins are forgiven. And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:48-50).
Here we see Jesus using the same format as God in creation; using his voice to bring about change. This shows us something powerful, something that the people around him noticed it, that as only God can forgive sins, this shows us that Jesus is God!
Later in the New Testament we see some teaching regarding how we should speak. Speaking of the tongue and speech, James writes that from the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so (James 3:10), but rather we ought to bless others. James describes the tongue as a small part of the body, but one that makes great boasts. He uses the poetic language of this passage to emphasise that we need to control our tongues. There are times when we are to remain silent, as well as be careful regarding how we should speak. I encourage you to read all of James 3:1-12.
There are also many other times throughout the scriptures when we are told to control our speech. Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus tells them to let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29). David asks God to set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (Psalm 141:3).
Of course, these verses don't specifically talk about swearing. However, as we are all being transformed more into the image of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18), we have to ask if swearing is the kind of language that Jesus would use? This question goes much deeper and further than just swearing; it goes to everything we say and also the way we say it.
This requires wisdom, which we may not be able to develop ourselves. This is why we are told that if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5). Therefore, ask God to help you in your speech, that you would glorify him in what you say, and that people would recognise the change that God is making in your life.
Remember what was written in Ephesians 4:29, that we are to let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths. Corrupting could be translated as 'foul', so no foul language of any kind.
In summary there are many principles that we can learn regarding how we are to speak to others. These principles, always about building people up and not tearing them down, go beyond just single words of swearing, but also about the words and phrases we use in all of our speech. Ask God to help you accomplish this.
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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