When I was still one of those spiritual-but-not-religious people (i.e. I didn't believe in going to Church, but still believed in God, though I admittedly did not have much of a relationship with Him), I met a pastor. One of the first days of being stuck with this person, I heard him say the word "bullshit." I was shocked - this was a man of God using a naughty word! But, I was also grateful.
Swearing is Relatable
I dislike pretentious snobs. You know the kind - the people who won't have a drink or say a curse word, and because of this they are instantly better than you. And in my spiritual-but-not-religious frame of mind, most Christians (and especially those higher in the Church) were exactly that - holier-than-thou fakes.
But this pastor who was willing to say a bad word in front of me? It may sound strange, but that one word made me relax a little around him. It made me drop some of my defenses. It made me recognize he wasn't a threat. It opened the door for him to teach me the importance of the Church (and the fact that we're all the Church... the Church is not just a wood or brick building), and started me on my path towards a relationship with Christ.
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
Swearing is Dependent on Subject
1. I just bought a new bitch. Hopefully I'll get a good litter of puppies from her.
2. You are such a bitch.
Bitch, shit, damn, hell - these are all words which can be relatively innocent. I know a lot of farmers who call their female dogs bitches. Why? Because that's what they are. However, if you turn this onto someone else for the purposes of insulting or degrading them - then you're sinning. But, it's not because you used a bad word - it's because you're intentionally tearing someone down with your words.
Changing a Word Does Not Change the Meaning!
In example 2 above ("You are such a bitch") - some good, God-fearing Christians will substitute words so they are no longer sinning by swearing. They'll say "You're such a mean person." "You're stupid." "You're evil and heartless."
True, they're no longer "swearing" by standards of the words they've chosen, but the outcome is the same... and more importantly, what is in their heart is the same. Whether I say "You're a bitch" or "You're heartless" - I am still tearing someone down. I am still sinning.
This is the same with other words, too..
If you think all "cuss" words are sinning... changing hell to heck, fuck to frick, damn to darn isn't going to help. Changing a few letters does not change the meaning.
Swear Words Change!
What is considered a swear word depends on the era and the culture. From the Bible:
But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? (2 Kings 18:27)The King James Version says "piss." This wasn't a swear word. But, now it is considered such, even when discussing a typical bodily function.
In Isaiah 64, we see self-righteousness being compared to filthy menstrual rags (depending what version you read... many versions just say filthy rags). Just the imagery of that, I would consider the phrase "filthy menstrual rags", when said to a person or about a person, to be quite a cuss phrase.
Denying Yourself Opportunities
I'm not saying swearing constantly is a good thing for us as humans to do (mainly because it just sounds trashy and stupid). If I wrote a blog post where every other word was an expletive, I'm fairly certain I would lose any credibility as a decent human being, and as a Christian. But to judge someone because he or she lets slip a bad word here and there? This denies us two very important things...
1. It denies us the opportunity to learn from that person. Even if this person says "oh shit!" a couple times, or "son of a bitch!" when he stubs his toe, does not mean he doesn't also have something of value to teach you.
2. It denies you the opportunity to minister to that person. Regardless of the person's language, we are all children of God, and it is our responsibility to help bring those who haven't yet accepted this fact into God's arms.
And, as I explained at the beginning of this post, allowing yourself to relax a little and be a little human - allowing yourself to let a word or two slip - can actually bring someone into God's arms.