Obscene language is not a modern phenomenon. Would it surprise you to learn that people used obscene speech in the days of the apostles, nearly 2,000 years ago? For example, it appears that some in the Colossian congregation used obscenities when angered. They may have done so to attack or hurt others intentionally, perhaps in retaliation. Likewise, many people today use obscene speech in outbursts of anger. Hence, Paul’s letter to the Colossians is relevant in our day. Paul wrote: “Put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8) Clearly, Christians are admonished to avoid outbursts of anger and the obscene language that so often go hand in hand with anger.
Granted, many use obscenities with no intention of attacking or injuring others. Likely, obscene language is most often used in a casual manner. Vile expressions thus become deeply entrenched in everyday speech. Some even find it hard to communicate without the use of expletives. Oftentimes, obscene language is even used to elicit laughter. But should such obscene jesting be viewed as a lesser, more tolerable offense? Consider the following.
Obscene jesting is shocking language intended to amuse others. Today obscene jesting is mostly sex-oriented. And many who consider themselves decent people find such language entertaining. (Romans 1:28-32) It is not surprising, then, that both natural and unnatural sexual behaviors are the subject matter of many professional comedians. Obscene jesting is featured in many movies as well as in television and radio programs.
The Bible is not silent on the subject of obscene jesting. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people; neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming.” (Ephesians 5:3, 4) Clearly, obscene language, regardless of its intent, is offensive to God. It is bad. It is speech that injures.