I was riding in a vehicle with a friend last week when a driver cut her off and she said something like “I hope you get stuck in the mud.”  I was surprised to hear her say this and said “You literally just cursed that man.”  She disagreed, which led to a conversation about the difference between cussing versus cursing.

The Bible is very clear about the fact that curses are powerful and do actually work.  They are not made-up and imaginary things that don’t actually work.  Anyone who practices any form of sorcery or black magic is well accustomed with curses, as they are a key component in the arsenal.  Bless those who pay you, curse those you do you wrong.  Curses are basically a pronouncement of some kind with an expected end-result that is stated in the curse.  It could be something like “You will never birth a child” resulting in being unable to carry any children to term and/or as has happened in some places in Africa, women who have been cursed remain pregnant for even years at a time with a single child, unable to actually birth it.  It could be much more immediate than that, such as “May you fall and hurt yourself today”, and sure enough you take a spill during your afternoon bike ride.  These are good examples of curses, albeit rather basic ones.  Some have entire rituals surrounding them to enhance the power of the curse while others are as simple as something spoken, something done.

Cussing, on the other hand, is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible where it speaks of not using vulgar language.  The interesting thing about cussing is that in many ways this is highly subjective.  What might be a cuss word to one person is simply a term to someone else.  Some people prefer to use certain cuss words and other “dirty” language during sex, and I suggest the level of appropriateness in those circumstances entirely depends on the parties involved.  What one person might find acceptable is cussing to someone else.  This can cause some embarrassing situations when one person believes something is a bad word and another person does not—I have been accused of cussing on more than one occasion for words that I simply don’t see as cussing.  Hell is a perfect example.  I see it as a location; some people see it is a cuss word.  Opinions vary, which is what makes this confusing at times.  Most cultures have at least some generally-accepted words that most people recognize which simplifies this only a little.cussing cursing curse profanity vulgar language

While cussing is rude, it is not spiritually damaging to other people who hear it.  Some might disagree with me on this, but that is really an issue of being offended at hearing cuss words, but simply hearing bad words does not cause psychic damage.  The confusing thing about cussing is that we often refer to cuss words as curse words which confuses the conversation.  Even I tend to refer to cuss words as such, but for the sake of clarity in this article I am using separate terms to delineate the two.  Cuss words are something we try not to teach to children, and may slip out of our mouths when we stub a toe, get stung by a bee, or have some other kind of painful mishap.    For some it may be normal and meaningful while for others that might be considered profanity.  Curses, on the other hand are usually intentional, have a designated outcome associated with them, and are damaging to the person on the receiving end.  If we had to rank the two from a “badness” perspective on a zero to ten scale, cursing is a ten and cussing is somewhere far below it.

Generally try to steer away from cussing, but never NEVER curse anyone.  When we curse, we have to remember that we reap what we sow.  While we might not receive a curse for every one that we speak, what goes around eventually comes around, and no one wants to reap that kind of harvest.  In the same way that Matthew 26:52 basically says “Those who live by the sword die by the sword”, those who live their lives cursing others will eventually receive many curses themselves.  When we curse others we partner with the demonic realms to draw death, loss, and destruction to the lives of others.

It is an evil practice.

The problem is that we sometimes curse people without realizing it.  If in conversation I talk about a coworker who is struggling with the job, saying, “He is never going to get good at this job.  He really should try a different career,” I have just cursed him.  This sort of casual curse is actually moderately common, which is why we might not even notice we are doing it.  The words themselves are a declaration of failure over that individual, and if we thought he was having trouble before, it isn’t likely to get better after the fact.

Cussing is largely a cut-and-dry issue.  Many people find it rude while other people pepper almost every single sentence with cuss words of some kind.  Often this is a product of one’s socialization environment, as people who use coarse speech regularly will find those around them mirroring that speech and likewise they will continue their speech patterns.  Cursing is another animal altogether.

I know from past conversations that many seem to not distinguish between the two, so I hope this article has helped you grasp the differences.  Furthermore I encourage you to find new methods of conversation that remove all cursing, and find alternatives to cussing if this is something that speaks to you.


  1. Donna

    Well said and I agree with you. Neither is harmless. I try to refrain from either. The, ‘If meat offends my brother ,then, I will eat no meat.” [1 Corinthians 8:13] and the [1 Corinthians 15:33] “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Common sense for me is just to avoid evils, period. These are the easy ones to get control over. My thought is, that I am trying to get closer to God. So eliminating what I can, just allows me to work on the tough ones. Whether I see something wrong or not isn’t really the point. What does God say about it? After all, I am wanting to please Him. ‘Bless and curse not’ [Romans 12:14] is needful to be taught. We carelessly spew words out of our mouth without realizing just how many we say in a day. But words have power. Curses without a cause shall not stand.[ Prov.26:2] But you are correct they hold weight. Whether you believe a curse or not, Scripture has plenty to say about them.
    It is very impressive that you caught that phrase of a curse when you heard it spoken. I tend to say, ” Let that curse fall to the ground.” If we stand with Jesus, then we let Him be our Pattern.
    When I read articles, Scripture automatically comes to mind from years of reading it. This is just a natural occurrence for me on a day to day basis. I enjoy what you write. Makes me think a lot. Thanks!

  2. Missy56

    Great Message!

  3. Sharon

    Thank you for your article. Have been guilty on both counts. While not intending to curse, I see how I have done so. Thank you for your limitless forgiveness, Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit for showing me this sin. Thank you, Jesus for washing me clean by your blood. Now keep me from repetition!

  4. shan

    According to the Bible an undeserved curse does not come to rest, instead it returns to the one who sent it. With this in mind how exactly does a random statement like the one in the text actually do anyone any harm seeing as it’s flying straight back to the one who said it? The failure of the curse to work is something that God Himself watches over, it doesn’t require any other participation on our part. Seems like this whole issue is redundant as far as cursing someone goes but as believers we are all called to think more highly of others rather than ourselves and if we do this we will not have the chance to curse anyone.

    • Michael King

      Curses are a bit more complex than that, and the verse you quoted in Proverbs (I think?) doesn’t seem to work out that well, or at least very often. Curses are very real and do come to rest on the undeserving, especially if enough power is applied to it when cast to make it stick.

  5. quierofuego

    Yup. I agree. I take “cursing” much more seriously.

    My grandmother grew up on a farm and sh*t wasn’t profanity to her. When my father went to school and said it, they immediately took him to the principal’s office and scolded him. He said “What’s the problem? My mom says it all the time. It means poop.”

    They didn’t believe him and took him home to talk to his mom. “Do you really say sh*t?” She said “Yes, it means poop.” (Or something like that.)

    I remember eating out with my grandmother once at a gas station. She is a very saintly lady, but when she spilled her drink she loudly exclaimed “sh*t.” She immediately turned white and covered her mouth. She had realized by that time that most people consider the word to be profanity, but the word was still there in the back of her mind. It was the only time I ever heard her say something like that.

    But I’ve often heard Christians curse people without using profanity. Some of them are the same Christians who get upset by “cussing.” Jesus said to clean the inside of the cup…

  6. Enoch Glory Seeker

    Kerry Kirkwood has some great books and teachings on the power of your words, especially blessing vs cursing.

    If you want a quick taste, one of his Sid Roth ‘It’s Supernatural’ videos is really good for this subject. It is called “Kerry Kirkwood on It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth – The Power of Blessing” and it is on YouTube.

    “How To Control Your Thoughts | Kerry Kirkwood on Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural!” is another one of my favorites (with an amazing testimony about the effect of thoughts/words on a heart) – also on YouTube.

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