What Is Swearing? And Why?

Good uses of the term swearing include — to swear an oath and to swear to tell the truth.  But the word also refers to using the name of a holy one or deity “in vain.”  In other words, to use the name of God as profanity.

I don’t know if it was the times or my segment of the world, but, when I was a child, hearing a swear word jolted me.  Proper people did not say those words in that context.  I attended a Christian college where using God’s name in vain was inconceivable.  Then I attended a secular university for graduate school.  I was shocked by one professor’s base language.  Why did someone with a PhD use detestable vocabulary?  My conclusion:  she had no reverence for God or Jesus.

Through the years it has become more and more common to hear even Christians use the names for the Christian triune God as profanity.  In fact, one hears the exclamation “God” multiple times per day.

Something I have been pondering recently:  why are only the names of the Christian triune God the only swear words:  Lord, Christ, Jesus, Holy S…, God??? Why aren’t Allah, Budda, Mohammed, etc. used as swear words? In the process of examining my thoughts, I came across http://www.everystudent.com/features/connecting.html which talks about the deity of each religion.  According to this article:
– Hindus acknowledge multitudes of gods and goddesses.
– Buddhists say there is no deity.
New Age followers believe they are God.
– Muslims believe in a powerful but unknowable God.
– Christians believe in a God who is loving and approachable.
Christianity is the only religion claiming a living, perfect, loving God.

My God is a vital part of my daily life. He has answered prayers of desperation, protected me when I didn’t know I needed protection, and even audibly spoken to me. There is NO doubt in my mind he is REAL. I communicate with him daily.  And I would not dream of using his holy name improperly.

Can you answer my title questions and why only the names of the Christian Triune God is used?

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About 9awalsh

A genealogist and writer who has uncovered legacy stories which must be told. I also write a blog, Deciphering Life, trying to figure out why life becomes so tangled -- www.9awalsh.wordpress.com
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2 Responses to What Is Swearing? And Why?

  1. jack seibert says:

    At least 20 years ago there was an article in Time magazine about this issue. I only remember the essence of it now. The conclusion then was that swearing is among other things an adult form of a childish temper tantrum. If a youngster gets mad they might slam the door, or kick their parent in the leg, or lie on the floor and pound the floor as they scream or whatever they think will show those in authority over them that they are upset. A child rarely, if ever, does that for the attention of strangers or anyone they don’t know.

    So as an adult they will profanely burst out again God for the same reason of frustration, as He is the only one over them they can strike out against and not suffer loss. Someone like their boss could fire them, their spouse could divorce them, but by verbally striking out against the divine is a harmless and subconscious acknowledgment that He is God, the same position of their parent when they were a child.

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  2. 9awalsh says:

    Interesting. Thanks. Expletives are a part of human nature — usually a result of frustration or shock. My Dad used to say, “Good gravy!” or “Good grief!” But they are only soft-pedaled forms of swearing. And then there are words meaning dung or sexual meanings. These are not irreverent, but vulgar. So what are acceptable expletives?

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