Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Lord's Name in Vain

I'm preaching this week on the third commandment ("Don't take the Lord's name in vain"). My research on it has been very interesting. Most of us who have been brought up in the church were taught that the command referred to using God's name as a curse word, but the command extends far beyond that.

Rick Atchley suggests that we can misuse God's name in a number of ways:
  • as a curse
  • as an exclamation point
  • as a weapon
  • as a cliche
  • as an endorsement

A couple of good articles can be found here and here.

Another blogger (an agnostic, but I thought his points were good) wrote this: Mortals cannot call upon God to cast a spell or to place a curse on any individual / object / situation / etc., such as is believed to be desirable or possible in some non-Christian traditions. To call upon God to curse or damn a person or situation on one's own behalf is therefore a futile and vain (for or about one's self ) action and to do so is equivalent to an attempt at usurping God's power. Given that the Judeo-Christian God referenced in the commandments is considered to be more powerful than the gods of other faiths ("put no other gods before me" is clearly a recognition of other gods), many of whom (according to those doctrines) can be manipulated for one's own purposes, it is considered an insult to the Biblical God to attempt it.

My Mom was kind of the "Third Commandment Cop" at our house. Sometimes my sisters would have a friend over who might say, the offending phrase ("oh my God"), and my mom would correct them. One time, after hearing a girl say it, Mom said, "we don't talk like that in this house." When her mother came to pick her up, she told her mom what had happened. The woman rebuked her daughter, exclaiming, "Blankety blank it, I've not you not to talk that blankety blank way." Unbelievable!

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