Is Swearing a Sin?

First of all, there are three kinds of sinning. The first is the religious kind, and yea, its a sin. There's a commandment against it: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain." That means speak of the sacred disrespectfully. Disrespecting God is a bad idea, not that God will punish us so much as that God is just bigger than we are, and when we forget that, we risk hurting ourselves. Its like not respecting a grizzly bear, or the ocean - the ocean has nothing against us, but don't mess with it.

The second kind of swear is the racial slur. If it isn't obvious to you why its a sin, then smarten up. I write more on this in a rant called "Okay Racism?"

The other kind of swear is usually related to the human body, either sexuality or excrement. What's wrong with this?

Well what we have going on here, actually in both this and the first case, is the human instinct to express emotion with interjections. We've been doing it since we were cavemen. The first words, "uggh" or something like that, didn't mean "rock." It meant "uggh!! I stubbed my ugghing toe on an ugghing rock!!"

And the harsher and angrier the word, the more extreme the emotion we get to express by it. Believe it or not, to some extent using interjections to express anger is relatively healthy and therapeutic. Better to use them than to beat someone up, give yourself and ulcer, etc. The best would be to not get angry about stupid things in the first place, but we might not be that "zen" or "saintly" yet - I know I'll have to keep working on that one.

So the issue with swearing then is primarily with who's around listening. Would you walk into a nursing home and start dropping f-bombs? Probably not - most people wouldn't. Why not? Because we know how jarring and disturbing this would be to the poor old folks who live there. In fact it can even be frightening - because these words ARE EMOTIONS, often ANGER, we don't have the right to inflict that anger on anyone we want. Using bad language in this way constitutes an attack - that's why in some cases it can be illegal.

In the same way we can see why its wrong to swear in a daycare centre, or even a hockey game if there are families around, and so on.

So what about God? Most of us understand that we shouldn't swear in church. Why not? Because its disrespectful to God, and so on. But God isn't just in church, he's everywhere, right?

So if God was standing right in front of you, would you swear?