Secular literature is often set apart from Christian literature by its sometimes excessive use of profanity and erotic scenes. There are those who read general market novels who don't necessarily appreciate massive doses of profanity but endure it because of the types of stories they prefer to read. Some Christians who read fiction will not tolerate even the use of "hell" in their stories and react rather loudly to it in their reviews wherever they post them and send protests to the publishers who dare to produce such "filth" under the Christian Fiction label.
Let's first take a look at why profanity appears in stories. I think it's safe to say the primary reason for using profane words is authenticity. Unless you smother yourself in a sheltered environment, you will hear swear/cuss words somewhere. People use them. Too much in many places without reservation or decorum. Fact remains: profanity is common. These days it's not uncommon for teachers to cuss and swear in the schools which enables the students to do likewise contributing to the degradation of the public school system. So. For writers to use profane language in fiction is a way of depicting actual occurrences in speech patterns for particular people-slash-characters.
My position on profanity in fiction is this: I don't want my novels littered with cuss/swear words, but I'm not above using an occasional "hell" or "damn" and reference to the f-word without actually spelling it out. Why? For the reason stated above: authenticity in the characters. I don't write about a sheltered environment where the Christian characters aren't exposed to the realities of this sinful world. And my characters aren't perfect, usually many of them in different stages of their faith or having not yet experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Having said that, I'm not about to imitate secular fiction by including a bunch of profanity in my stories. I think the effect of suggesting profanity in different circumstances can be almost as effective and sometimes more effective than the real deal.
As a reader, I have my limits. I will read authors in the general market who use it, but I prefer those who choose to write less of it as opposed to more. I've been surprised by some of the series novels I follow when the author has chosen to use cuss words minimally but then in their next book the level of profanity increases, and in some of their writings its usage tends to go back and forth without a discernable reason for the increase.
I know this topic is not a pleasant one for those readers who shudder at the mention of profanity, but, as a writer, I've needed to decide how authentic I want to be while respecting the holiness we, as Christians, are called to honor. For me, I consider the story God has inspired me to tell and do my best to tell it real-ly and righteously. The end result is ultimately between God and me.
Father, you know above all else I want to honor you with my writing. Thank you for giving me stories to write. I'm so grateful for each word. Help me to continue with the ones you've given me. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.