Jesus said that if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell (Matthew 5:22). He also said that you should fight temptations to lust or else risk being thrown into hell (Matthew 5:29). It is better to stop yourself from sinning than to be thrown into hell because of it (Matthew 5:30). Jesus mentioned the word hell about sixty times. He wanted us to heed His warnings and therefore avoid going there. If Jesus talked about hell so frequently, why do we sometimes cringe when others say it out of anger or just in passing? Is hell a curse word?

What Does the Bible Say about Cursing?

Cursing can be anything that takes the Lord’s name in vain or puts a person down by using a slang, derogatory term. These two ways of cursing violate the first and second commandments—to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Cursing can also be a way of complaining intensely about a current situation. This shows impatience and pride.

We should be careful what words we say because our words can defile us (Matthew 15:11). The Bible tells us to let no corrupt talk come out of our mouths; it is much better to offer words of grace to others (Ephesians 4:29). We need to stop using anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk (Colossians 3:8). Foul language doesn’t edify anyone. No one is helped by listening to them. Curse words fan the flame of anger. We should instead be promoting grace and peace. And our conversations should be full of grace and seasoned with the salt of God’s truth; not salty, slang, foul language.

Is Hell a Curse Word?

The word ‘hell’ itself isn’t a curse word. It is a real place where many go but none are happy when they get there. Jesus said that the highway to hell is wide and broad (Matthew 7:13). It’s easy to get on that highway. All you have to do is do whatever you feel like whenever you want and refuse to believe in the Lord God. It is much better to go through the narrow gate, which is Jesus, that leads to heaven. And that path is free. It only takes faith.

God will not let anyone into heaven who doesn’t reverence Him. Why would someone who doesn’t reverence God want to spend eternity in heaven with Him anyway? When they refuse to believe in Him, their arrogance sends them to hell and their pride keeps them from turning back around. They lived this life without God, and so continue that way throughout eternity.

Some churches today don’t often speak of hell in order to not offend their patrons. But if Jesus spoke of hell, we should speak of it too. We need to warn people of the fiery torment while they still have a chance to repent and turn to God. Perhaps we need more sermons that are similar to “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards in 1741.

Jonathan Edwards’s main message was that it is only the mercy of God that keeps people from falling into hell and God may withdraw that mercy at any moment. People today may feel like this message is “too much” but the result in the 1700s was that many turned from their sin and believed in Christ, which is the best result that any sermon can produce. May we take this same message to spur another Great Awakening in our present day.

Why It’s Important to Examine the Intentions Behind What We Say

When asking ourselves questions like “is hell a curse word?” we need to first examine the intentions behind the words that we say. We need to be careful what we say, but we also need to be careful what we are thinking. Our thoughts will eventually spill out of our mouths if we don’t stop them before that point.

While the word itself may not be considered a curse word, the way we use it can change that. The dictionary defines a curse word as “a profane or obscene word, especially as used in anger or for emphasis.” Therefore, as already mentioned, we should talk about hell for the purpose of leading others to repent and accept God’s forgiveness and mercy, but we should never use the word as an avenue for our hate or anger.

Be careful what you say. Your tongue can start fires of pain and anguish. Is that the legacy you’d like to leave with other people? Often you hear both blessings and curses coming from the same mouth. Can a body of water be both fresh and salty? We need to always think before we speak and let our words encourage, edify, build-up, and help instead of letting our anger and impatience tear others down.

You bridle your tongue by bridling your heart first. You can bridle your heart by running your thoughts and feelings through the filter of God’s Word, the Bible. We see what God calls good or bad and seek to have our thoughts line up with that. Then when we speak, we will be helping and not hurting. We can’t control our speech or our motives by ourselves. We need the Spirit of God’s assistance and guidance.

Speaking about hell actually does edify. It may be the exact motivation someone needs to turn from their sin and repent.

Don’t Speak about Hell Flippantly

Hell is a very real place full of gloomy darkness, isolation, and loneliness. Using the word flippantly is like watching people being tormented and laughing about it. However, it’s okay to say the word and talk about it as a terrible place that no one wants to be. In general, people either don’t believe hell is real or they think it’s not so bad. But it is bad, and if you get there it’s too late to change your mind and choose the other way.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Believe in the Lord Jesus today while you still have time, and you will gain God’s love and grace. And when you do sin, God’s mercy is there to help you repent quickly. Yes, the narrow path is the best path.

We all deserve hell, so when God gives us the opportunity to be with Him in heaven and we accept, we are eternally grateful. Once you are resting securely in God’s love, nothing else can separate you from that love, including the powers of hell (Romans 8:38).

Dear Lord, rather than asking the question, is hell a curse word, have me instead ask the question, what power does my speaking about hell hold? I wish that it wasn’t so easy for people to fall onto the broad highway that leads to hell. People simply follow the world’s ways that seem good and tolerant but end up pulling them far from You and Your love. Help us to look at unbelievers with Your eyes of mercy and compassion and to speak of Your goodness and shine Your light in order to point people to the narrow path that leads to heaven. This narrow path is free but it’s not always easy. But when we follow You, You give us Your Spirit to help us live righteously. Please also give us the courage to speak of the consequences if someone does not come to know and follow You. Thank You that Your way is a way full of abundant life and truth. Help us to spread Your message often so that people will turn from their sin and pride. Amen.

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headshot of author Jenni HeerenJennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.