Profanity

See this page in the original 1992 publication.

Author: Von Harrison, Grant

General Authorities of the Church have defined profanity to include the following: (1) blasphemy (irreverent use of the Lord's name); (2) swearing; (3) vulgarity (coarse jokes, foul stories, lewd words); (4) use of the Lord's name without proper authority; and (5) any type of filthiness in speech that is degrading and soul-destroying.

Profanity has become a common practice among both young and old, both male and female, in today's society. Some may be inclined to say that the commandment "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Ex. 20:7) is outdated. However, the wide use of profanity in contemporary society does not excuse Latter-day Saints from using any form of profanity or other blasphemous speech: "The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his [God's] name in vain" (Ex. 20:7). President Spencer W. Kimball told the Church, "We, as good Latter-day Saints…do not use foul language. We do not curse or defame. We do not use the Lord's name in vain" (1981, p. 5).

To strip profanity and vulgarity from one's vocabulary not only is commendable and a mark of refinement but it is also a commandment from God. Early members of the Church were told in a general epistle that "the habit…of using vulgarity and profanity…is not only offensive to all well-bred persons, but it is a gross sin in the sight of God, and should not exist among the children of the Latter-day Saints" (MFP 3:112-13). Profanity makes the holy profane, the sacred commonplace, the serious flippant, and the precious cheap.

To refrain from profane and vulgar speech also shows self-control. H. Burke Peterson, of the Seventy and former First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said, "We might consider vulgarity in a couple of ways: first, as an expression of personal weakness, and second, as a contribution to personal weakness" (Peterson, p. 38). Similarly, President Kimball described profanity as "the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly" (1974, p. 7).

Instead of using profane speech, Latter-day Saints should "enlighten, edify, lift, motivate, elevate, build and uplift" others through their words (Brewerton, p. 73). By doing so, they will not forfeit the multitude of blessings promised them if they "bridle [their] tongues" (James 1:26).


Bibliography

Brewerton, Ted E. "Profanity and Swearing." Ensign 13 (May 1983):72-74.

Kimball, Spencer W. "God Will Not Be Mocked." Ensign 4 (Nov. 1974):4-9.

Kimball, Spencer W. "President Kimball Speaks Out on Profanity." Ensign 11 (Feb. 1981):5.

Peterson, H. Burke. "Purify Our Minds and Spirits." Ensign 10 (Nov. 1980):37-39.

GRANT VON HARRISON


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