Is it a Sin to Use Curse Words?

We know that taking the Lord’s name in vain goes against the 2nd Commandment – but what about curse words? Is it a sin to use four-letter words in frustration or in our daily conversations?

Recently on Go Ask Your Father™guest host Father John Paul Erickson tackled this question, saying:

“Context really matters. Context and motivation really matter in morality, and especially in these sorts of sins – sins of the tongue.   When we’re dealing with language that we call curse words – so generally those four-letter words – why we are using them needs to be examined.

Are we using them deliberately to be offensive? Are we using them deliberately to shock, without a good reason? And I do think there could be good reasons, to indicate the seriousness of a situation. Are we speaking in the presence of young children who are going to be unduly influenced by our speech? The context matters.

If we find ourselves in moments of frustration, and we find ourself using words that we would never say in public, I think we need to examine ourselves.

But the sinfulness, and especially the gravity of the sin, that’s all about context and motivation. I would say, on the whole, an adult who chooses to use a particular word that is forceful, for the sake of hammering home a point – I think that can be lawful at times.

But we do need to be careful about being vulgar. Especially as witnesses in the world, we want to call everyone into excellence and into love. And I think one can reasonably ask that if this word is a part of my vocabulary, am I dragging people down?

But I would still stand by that the occasional use of a word, without the presence of children, to accentuate a particular difficulty, trial, or the gravity of a situation could be lawful at times.”

Listen to the response below:

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Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.