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Taming our tongues: A Bible-based look at ‘Cancel Words’

Advice & Opinion
By Kathryn Knight

Images: Deposit Photo

Canceling words has become very popular recently. Lots of words are being canceled today, but I often think these forbidden words are just “politically correct” nonsense.

Words are being disallowed because someone, somewhere, decided they were offensive. Some words are obviously not okay to use (racial slurs or epithets, etc.). But since when is the term “American” an offensive word? All of this canceling and changing the meanings of words recently got me thinking: are there times when we need to drop words from our vernacular?

The answer is, “Yes.”

There are some areas where we as Christians need to cancel inappropriate language in our homes. Examples of words that should be canceled:

Curse words

Swear words. You know the words that I mean. I’ll not list them here but these words should not be part of a Christian’s vocabulary. My young adult kids say that I would be shocked at the volume of curse words used in everyday conversation by Christians and non-Christians alike at universities, online and in the workplace. We are to be salt and light to the world and our language must not be foul or use curse words.

Euphemisms or Using God’s Name in Vain

Americans have thought up many ways to sneakily take God’s name in vain. No use of God’s Holy Name or derivation of it is okay as an expletive. Watch out for subtle uses (OMG, gosh, etc) that might have sneaked into your kids’ vocabularies. If you hear these from your kids or their friends – even from yourself – stop and discuss what you heard. Explain why you should not say words that dishonor God.

Rough or Coarse Words

These are not cuss words or curse words – these are just words that are unseemly. For my generation and those older than me, these words were not used when we were kids but now they are commonplace. The Bible has a lot to say about words that are not “dirty words” per se, just coarse or rude. Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 4:29 and James 1:26 all address this. Each family needs to decide what words they will allow, but I think we need to err on the side of caution. For example, when my girls were little, one of them told another mom that her son “had used the ‘F’ word.” The mom was horrified, but then she thought, wait, how would a Knight girl even know that word? She asked my child to tell what word it really was.  My eldest reluctantly whispered, “fart”.  The mom was so relieved and we had a laugh about it later, but it made me take a hard look at what words we were using that might fall under the Biblical definition of course-jesting. 

We as parents need to carefully weigh what we allow in our home. Most of us would agree that cursing is never okay, but might miss course words and euphemisms that are blasphemous. Remember the words of James, “Keep your tongues from evil.” Listen carefully to your kids’ (and your) words and point out language that is not God-honoring. It sneaks in easily and we often don’t hear it once we have become desensitized. 

God gave us, whom are made in His image, a very special ability to communicate. We can use words to build up or tear down. Think about the words you use and set a good example for your children. Teach them to choose better, more appropriate words instead of unbiblical, coarse or rough language. God gave humans the ability to communicate with each other and to create ideas, stories and relationships using words, but these words have to be carefully chosen to honor God, spread the Gospel and build others up. 


The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team.




Kathryn Knight, EdD, has homeschooled for over a quarter of a century. Four of her five girls have graduated and Kathryn is loving the new adventure of homeschool with an “only” child. She loves teaching all subjects, especially history, and has made an art of educating her kids with hands-on projects, re-enactments and travel.

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