Communication is perhaps the most powerful tool that the Creator has given us. It is so powerful that Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37, ESV). If Jesus takes our words seriously, then we should, too—which means that swearing probably isn’t the best way to express ourselves. One important distinction to make is that swearing is not breaking the third commandment. That commandment 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” (Exod. 20:7). This passage refers to using God’s name, whether out loud or in social media/texting shorthand, for reasons other than prayer—especially as a curse to express something bad. God’s name is sacred and deserves respect.

Swearing refers to words that particular cultures have decided are crass and socially inappropriate, usually having to do with bodily functions or sexist/racial slurs. The Bible says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Prov. 16:24, ESV) and “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Prov. 18:21). Paul is even more direct when he writes, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Col. 3:8, ESV). Our speech is meant to bring life, not take it away.

This doesn’t mean we use only flowery words and utter only expressions of happiness. We can be just as bold with our language but without swearing (see Jesus in Matt. 23:15). We can be bold without being rude. Be creative, be kind, and speak in love to those around you (Eph. 4:15).