When I was growing up, my family attended a rather conservative church (I fondly refer to it as The Chinese Republican Church), and we were taught it’s un-Christian to swear (i.e., cuss or curse). Of course, there’s no biblical support for such a teaching. The closest anyone can come up with is a passage in Matthew 5:33-37 referring to “swearing” as in oaths, not curses:
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
which basically means it’s unbiblical to swear on the Bible to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.” And I always swore to myself that if I had to testify in court that I wouldn’t swear on the Bible as instructed, but I would open the Bible to be sworn upon and point to Matthew 5:33 as my reason for not swearing. Oh, wait… I guess I didn’t swear to myself… I just decided and then said “yes” to myself.
Then, of course, there are some portions of Paul’s epistles in which he talks about being considerate of others and their cultural values, and I think that jives more with my experience with swearing—it’s about what’s appropriate or inappropriate, not what is sinful. I probably swore once in all four years of high school. I’m not kidding. I was disciplined then. I did what good Christians were supposed to do at the Chinese Republican Church. I did my quiet time. I didn’t engage in sexual… anything, really. I didn’t swear. I went to church regularly. Well, all that did was basically prove to myself that I can be disciplined. In fact, during that time, I didn’t even watch any TV. I recommend that to anyone—be disciplined, give up some things—try it. It’s fun. It teaches you about how strong and weak you can be. It is not, however, a permanent state of morality or immorality. It’s an exercise, albeit a long one.
Now, I swear and have no qualms about it. I don’t swear while I’m at my job. I don’t swear in church. I don’t swear at formal events. I swear with my friends. I swear in informal writing. There are good times to say fuck and shit and bad times to say them. As David Ives would say, “It’s all in the timing.”