“Even when you don’t say it as long as you thought of it, it is already a sin!” This is what my friend told me once we were discussing something many years ago. Obviously, her statement has just been tattooed in my mind until now. I feel like she really had a point. That’s why, although I don’t cuss, I make sure that I don’t cuss in my head as well. But really, is it a sin to cuss in your head?
Before going to cussing in the head, let’s first discuss cussing or swearing in general.
There are bible passages supporting how cussing is wrong.
“But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth.”
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.”
“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.”
“It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”
According to the Catechism,
CCC 2158 God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.
When we cuss, we break this teaching of the Church. We fail to respect the person we curse. Out of anger, we damage that person and so is our soul. And that makes cussing wrong.
Cussing in Head
Cussing can be a result of anger or viciousness towards someone. We hurt them through profanity. We debase their dignity as human beings. This is just inappropriate and sinful.
That said, what about cussing in the head? Is it considered wrong as well? Is it a sin?
Note that sin cannot only be committed through words but also through thoughts.
When we go to the Holy Mass, at the start, we do the Penitential Act as follows:
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
And, striking their breast, they say:
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
As highlighted, we ask forgiveness for everything we failed to do, we did wrong, we said wrong and we thought wrong. Therefore, it is possible that we sin because of our thoughts.
But, how do we sin if we don’t say it and hurt people’s feelings?
Although we did not say it out loud, we still think ill of others which makes it a sin.
The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, but gracious words are pure.
Mortal or Venial Sin
If it is a sin, is it mortal or venial?
To be a mortal sin three conditions must be present:
- The thought must involve grave matter (like inflicting grave harm to others)
- You have to know that the thought is gravely sinful
- You have to deliberately endorse the thought (not resisting the thought)
If a sin does not have any of these three conditions, it will fall as venial.
Furthermore, usually cussing is a product of anger, it is wishing grave harm on others. But most of the time, this anger swiftly fades (just an impulsive reaction), if that’s the case it indicates that it lacks full knowledge and complete consent and thus was not a mortal sin.
Regardless, cussing is still inappropriate and sinful. And we must avoid it.
On the other hand, cussing, aside from anger or expression, can also be a result of scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is a Religious Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. One of its signs is having intrusive thoughts. These thoughts are disturbing thoughts that suddenly enter one’s mind. The thought could be a swear or any profane word.
If the thought is the product of this disorder, then it is not a sin. The reason is that it is not intentional.
To know more about scrupulosity, you might want to check this out.
So, it is a sin to cuss in your head?
Yes. But if it is a result of scrupulosity then no, because it is not deliberately done.
If cussing in the head is a mortal sin, it must be confessed to a Priest. On the other hand, if it falls as a venial sin, it is still encouraged to be confessed.
In the confession, you just have to mention to your confessor that you cussed or swore in your head. You can also share how many times you committed it.
He will then give you counsel, ask you for penance and finally absolve you from this sin.
When we are forgiven, remember that it does not end there. We need to make amends. And in this case, we have to watch our thoughts, making sure that we react in a pure and wholesome way possible.
Society today normalizes cussing. Whether the result of anger or just an expression, it is still inappropriate. As Catholics, it is our duty to guard our mouths and even our minds from this corrupt earthly practice. Instead of saying bad words when anger hits us, why not pray? Give it to God.
We may all have likes and dislikes; many of us are perhaps a little angry with someone; then let us say to the Lord: Lord, I am angry with this or that person; I am praying to you for him or her. To pray for those with whom we are angry is a beautiful step towards that law of love. – Pope Francis
St. Joan of Arc, Patron Saint of Swearing, pray for us.