I recently did a survey of swear words in various languages. They included many of the same words used in English: wh*re, b*stard, son of a b*tch, c*ck sucker, and, of course, f*ck. This begs a simple but profound question: Why are these words, particularly the f-word, used to insult, intimidate and express hatred and contempt in so many different languages?
Physical acts can have spiritual implications. For dogs, cats and other lower life forms, sex is purely a physical act, done only out of instinct and solely for procreation. For humans, created in God’s image, sex has physical and spiritual dimensions.
The marriage of one man and one woman is the foundation of family life, the basis of healthy society, and is sanctioned by God. It is a sacrament in the Catholic Church and is holy. It is a symbol of God’s covenant with His people, the Church. The coming together of the Holy Spirit with the Virgin Mary created Christ. This, I believe, is symbolized by the physical consummation of marriage. Can you see now why any perversion of the “marital act” is so offensive to God?
The f-bomb, and related profanities, express this very sin (sexual immorality). Think about it. The word “copulation” and the phrase “sexual intercourse” express the very same act as the word f*ck. However, the first words only express the physical act and are, therefore, not considered offensive. The f-word expresses the physical act as well as its sacrilegious spirit, intrinsic to our fallen nature. The dignity of marriage compensates for this “sacrilegious spirit.” (This spirit is what “bad language” in general expresses.)
Immoral sex (all sex outside of marriage) is sinful and, like all sin, tends to separate us from God. The ultimate consequence this separation is hell. Our Lady of Fatima warned us that the number one cause of eternal damnation is sexual immorality. In that sense, telling someone to f*ck off is similar to telling them to go to hell.
Unsurprisingly, as our society has become less and less religious, it has also increasingly accepted the legitimacy of the f-word and other profanities. That kind of language, once only heard in places such as pool halls and shipyards, is now commonly found in print, in movies, on TV and on the lips of more and more people. Because, these words have become so accepted, they have lost some of their power to shock. But, never believe that they have lost any of their power to deprive us of graces and lead us into deeper sin.
Most people today are deceived into thinking that God is “too compassionate” to punish anyone. He is a God of love and mercy. However, the God who never changes is today exactly the same God who cast the rebellious angels out of heaven, flooded the world in the days of Noah and incinerated Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sexual immorality. (Whether you think God did these things directly or simply allowed them to happen, the effect was the same.) While giving up “bad language” would be good, it’s even more vital to conquer the “spirit of wrath or sacrilege” that language represents.