Q: Is it wrong to use slang expressions such as "gosh" or "gee"?


A: It is wrong. Such words are known as “euphemisms,” which are defined as the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for another felt to be too blunt or offensive.

God instructs us not to take His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). To casually use expressions such as “My God,” “O my Lord,” or “Jesus Christ,” just to utter surprise or emphasis, is therefore clearly prohibited. So is the casual use of a common German welcome greeting (“Gruess Gott” or “Gott zum Gruss”– meaning, “Greet God” or “God as a greeting”), or the casual use of the French or Spanish farewell expressions, “adieu” or “adios” (both meaning, “to God”).

Many common expressions such as “gosh” or “gee” are used as substitutes for God the Father or Jesus Christ. God instructs us to let “no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29). This prohibition applies to careless speaking or using slang expressions or euphemisms which would profane God’s name, such as “gosh” or “gosh almighty” (a substitute for “God” or “Almighty God”) or “gee” (a substitute for “Jesus”). It also applies to the careless use of words describing characteristics or concepts clearly associated with God, such as “my goodness” (compare Matthew 19:16-17), “by heaven” or “for heaven’s sake” (compare Matthew 5:34; Revelation 13:6).

The same prohibition applies to curse words, such as “damn,” or “go to hell,” or euphemisms, such as “darn” or “go jump in the lake” (compare Revelation 20:14-15).

God wants us to use language pleasing to Him. Let us note how the New International Version translates Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The Broadman Bible Commentary makes these insightful statements:

“Words are an index of character (Matthew 12:34). Good words are to be chosen over evil talk… Do our words build up the hearer’s character and make him a better man for his having heard your speaking? Do they meet his need? And do they in this way ‘bring a blessing’ by supplying that need?”

Whatever expressions we are inclined to use, we need to make sure that they are helpful, rather than unwholesome, offensive or even blasphemous. Christ warns us in Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say to you that for every idle [careless, thoughtless, useless] word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

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