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OMG! The Third Commandment? What?

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by fred_fred)

You hear it on TV all the time… especially on that home makeover one… you know the one I’m talking about… I hear it said all over the place: adults, kids, in the mall, on a walk, in church… I’ve even heard a parrot trained to say it.

I have to admit it. Every time I hear it, I cringe. I can deal with most other words (some make me blush and some make me shake my head), but hearing “Oh my God!” makes me cringe.

Why? Is it because that is a remnant of my conservative evangelical programming that refuses to let go? Is it because I want to adhere to the third commandment (and every other commandment for that matter) as a list of rules that I am subject to and bound to follow? Maybe it’s because I feel that I hold myself to some superior spiritual standing by not taking the Lord’s name in vain?

I recently read this post by Scot McKnight about the third commandment… that’s the one about taking the Lord’s name in vain… Oh don’t pretend you didn’t forget!

I encourage you to read McKnight’s post for yourself. He does a really good job of reconciling the fact that we are no longer slave to the law with the other fact that we are told by Jesus that if we are true followers of himself then we love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. The issue comes down to that of loving God and respect for his name out of that love. The third commandment to not take the Lord’s name in vain, then takes on a much deeper dimension than simply not saying, “Oh my God.” It goes further. It means we do or say nothing that would bring dishonor to God or anything that touches God.

I believe that being able to refocus our walk with God and how we conduct ourselves through the missional lens of loving God and loving others is crucial to how we help children and families live the way God wants us to.

2 Responses to “OMG! The Third Commandment? What?”

  1. @kennyconley October 28, 2009 at 3:06 am #

    When I was a kid, I was not allowed to say "Oh my God" becasue of the 3rd commandment. I could say "Oh my goodness" or "Oh my gosh" and sometimes when I was being rebellious, I'd say, "Oh my dog." That's right, that's God backwards. i was a troubled kid.

    I'm a lot more laid back today. I say it on occasion without concern. However, when I do say it, I do think about the 3rd commandment. I can't get away from the programming.

    You bring up such a good point. The commandment was there to honor the name of God. Because God was so great and powerful and beautiful and the people loved him so much, they wanted to ensure that they'd never dishonor him in any way, least of which say his sacred name (or take it in vain).

    But that's usually not our approach at all, is it? Too often for us, it's more about not breaking the flippin' commandment, not seeing to what degree we can honor our God. Is the tail wagging the dog here?

    • henryjz October 29, 2009 at 3:00 am #

      Thanks for those thoughts, Kenny.

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