Cursing, Swearing in Christian Writing

Cursing, Swearing in Christian Writing

     I’ve been interested to notice how this topic has caused so much debate amongst Christian writers. Undoubtedly, it is a fairly controversial issue, and I respect each individual’s own convictions on it.

That being said, this issue for me is fairly straightforward: I do not include curse words in my writing. From a solely practical standpoint, most Christian fiction publishers will simply not allow it. On a more personal level, I refuse to include words in my writing that I would not use myself or that I would be uncomfortable with any friend or loved one reading.

From a writing standpoint, I also personally feel that foul language in writing is somewhat sloppy. If the character swearing is a protagonist, we instantly form a lower grade impression of them. If the character swearing is an antagonist or some form of “low life” that we are supposed to have a low impression of anyway, then the swearing simply comes off as lazy writing.

Clearly, swearing is simply a method to convey intense emotion, but there are, in my opinion, better ways to express this. Swearing is sort of the “easy way out” in many instances.

At the risk of sounding like a contradiction, while I do not permit swear words in my writing, I do make use of the concept of swearing. Wait…what?

Let me explain.

While I do feel that swear words are largely a “cop out” in writing, the fact remains that you want your writing to be as realistic as possible, and the reality is, people swear. It’s a part of life. If you have a particularly rough character in your story, it’s very unlikely that he will exclaim, “alack and alas!” when he stubs his toe.

My solution for this dilemma is to simply be more creative with your writing. Turn the problem into an exercise to improve your ability to convey emotion. For example, I will often describe how a character is saying something rather than spell out what they are saying. In one instance, I referenced a rather vulgar character by saying, “He directed several mental comments towards the man that one would probably not expect to find in a third grade reader.”

In this somewhat humorous example, the reader understands the character is saying, or rather thinking in this case, profanity without actually saying so.

In conclusion, this topic is one that must be left to a writer’s personal convictions. Let me know what you all think about this issue, and as always, thanks for reading.  

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2 thoughts on “Cursing, Swearing in Christian Writing

  1. Cleve Johnson

    I agree with you. I recently self-published a YA/Contemporary Fantasy novel, and I wrestled with using mild profanity or not as I wanted the teenage characters to be realistic. At the same time, I didn’t want to promote the use of teens using profanity even though I know that they use it quite often. I decided to not use profanity by indicating that certain characters spewed forth several colorful words without spelling them out or by using synonyms that are considered slightly vulgar but more acceptable such as the words crap, butt, etc.

    1. Hi Cleve,

      Thanks for stopping by! I agree with you; trying to balance realistic writing and personal convictions can be difficult. It sounds like you were able to come up with a way to do both. Best of luck on all of your future writing endeavors!

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