By Brian Kuhn, age 15 and Marjorie Foerster Eddington


Is swearing really that big of a deal?


Why do we feel the need to swear? Does it remove our day-to-day stress? Or do movies and television make it seem natural and a part of society? I think we swear because when we get mad, it is the only thing we feel like doing.

Imagine you and your friend are playing a video game, and you are seriously frustrated because he's owning you and won't let you do anything (think Halo 3 or Super Smash Bros. Melee). You aren't really having fun now. Are you going to start cussing him out, call him names, or get frustrated at the game or at your character?

Well, I have reacted this way before, and it didn't really accomplish anything except to encourage my anger at myself, my friend, and the game. We run into problems when we let anger take control of our thoughts or actions, or influence us in any way. When we give in to anger, we can become irrational and do or say things we probably wouldn't have said if we had stayed calm or controlled.

We read in Proverbs, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (23:7 KJV). This can relate to the words that come out of our mouths. If we are saying mean and degrading things, maybe we're feeling this way inside, and then maybe we start to act in mean or degrading ways. This can hurt people's feelings, especially if we are swearing at them.

Also, what if there are certain people you don't want to say swear words around? If you get used to swearing all the time, you might accidentally cuss in front of them out of habit. If little kids hear someone using inappropriate language, they could be influenced to swear themselves. Swearing has a negative influence on young children.

If you are frequently or constantly swearing, people might perceive you to be a bad kind of person. People might get the wrong impression of you. Swearing doesn't show a person's "true" character. Swearing hides a person's true image as God's child. It shows a "false" image. If you use cleanliness in your day-to-day language, then people will want to be around you more.

You're probably thinking, "Haven't you ever used swear words?" Well, yes … a lot. But I have realized that swearing doesn't accomplish anything. Again we read, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov 16:32).

A controlled temper is something for which everyone should strive. Keeping your cool in front of others or even by yourself helps give you a much more harmonious existence and coexistence with others. Swearing is a waste of energy, words, and breath.

So how do we stop swearing? Many people say, "What would Jesus do?" I don't think Jesus swore. Don't let your anger get the best of you or take control of you. Keep calm, and you won't feel the need or urge to swear.

Brian Kuhn, age 15

Editor's Note:
Brian brings up very good points. What image do we really want to convey? How do we want others to think about us? How do we want to make others feel?

Swearing, whether we like it or not, conveys a low-life, low-class, uncultured, uncouth, disrespectful attitude: we're venting our anger at others and subjecting them to unpleasant, demeaning, and degrading words. We're polluting the atmosphere -- our atmosphere, their atmosphere.

We might also think about the third commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Ex 20:7). Saying, "Oh God!" is every bit as bad as swearing, if not worse. Jesus told us to revere God's name, not disgrace it, not dis it: "Hallowed be thy name" (Matt 6:9).

When we talk to or about people, we want to make sure that we're respecting them, respecting their God-given identities, respecting our God-given identities, and respecting God. Let's raise the standard of our speech, not debase it. Let's shine God's image, not deface it with swearing or taking God's name in vain.