"...I was there to speak at a youth event when I overheard an X-rated conversation—between churched teens no less. It prompted me to address the issue from stage. I asked, "How many of you struggle with using bad language?" Many hands went up. I followed up with questions we've all probably considered at some point:
Is it wrong for a Christian to use curse words? If so, why?
Entertainment is full of swear words, sexual innuendo and scatological slang. I recently read a study of prime-time TV in which found more than 11,000 expletives—nearly twice as many as in 1998. Indeed, in our coarsening culture, some people can't recall a time when f-bombs weren't part of "normal" discourse. Kids use it because they've grown up hearing profanity and having it reinforced by the media. And somehow it becomes a personal habit that even Christian may consider acceptable in certain situations.
I've heard people argue that words are just noises we make. They don't really mean anything. But such a position is contradictory. To deny the power of language one must debate with … words. And those combinations of letters and sounds require meaning to be grasped. You have to assume that, objectively, your listener understands what you're saying. We can't get around the fact that words contain meaning.
Words also yield consequences. For proof that language matters, consider that we have an entire lexicon associated with their misuse: fraud, slander, libel, perjury, harassment, defamation. The ways people abuse words have social, psychological, legal and even spiritual implications.
The Bible reminds us that we should speak in ways that honor God and benefit others. Ephesians 4:29 says, 'Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.' James 1:26 warns us to keep a tight rein on our tongues, while Colossians 3:8 says, 'Rid yourselves of all things such as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.'
We derive our word profanity from a biblical term that means "outside the temple." Profane means "unholy" or "unwholesome." As we saw in Ephesians 4:29, some types of speech are literally unholy. Spouting certain four-letter words can hinder spiritual growth, harm relationships with others and undermine our credibility as bearers of Gospel truth.
Some Christians contend that since Christ made us free, how we say things doesn't really matter. While salvation sets us free from the penalty of sin, freedom doesn't equal license. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we have an obligation to pursue holiness (Eph. 4:24; Titus 2; 1 Pet. 1:13-15 & 2:24). Discipleship and spiritual maturity require a level of obedience that should find us yielding everything to God.
If words didn't matter, Jesus wouldn't have said, 'I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.' (Matt. 12:36-37)."
excerpt from Focus on the Family's Plugged In. Alex McFarland is Plugged In's teen apologetics expert.