Oh My God! How Christians Misunderstand The Phrase "Taking The Lord's Name In Vain"
Before There Was A Bible, There Were The Ten Commandments
When Moses was alive, the Bible was just beginning to be written. The first few books were still taking form. All anyone had was the ten commandments that God had written on stone tablets and given to Moses to carry down from a mountain, so everyone could read them. These can be found in Exodus 20:1-17.
Number 4 says (depending on the translation):
"You shall not take the Lord's name in vain"
"You should not misuse the name of the Lord your God"
So naturally people think that saying,"Oh my God!" or "Jesus Christ!" when something upsetting or shocking happens is disobeying this commandment. They say you are making his name into a swear word, but I think these people are missing the point of these passages entirely.
It Makes Sense To Call Out To Jesus When You're Upset
If you believe in Jesus or God, it actually makes sense to scream his name whenever anything shocking or upsetting happens. Isn't that what a lot of prayers are? Crying out to God for help and wisdom in difficult situations? So why do people think this is the problem?
In fact, if you spend more time with atheists or pagans, you might find that a lot of them refuse to say "Oh my God!" or "Jesus Christ!" at all. Because they don't believe in your God or your Jesus, so they don't like crying out to him when they're upset. I've met plenty of pagans who will exclaim things like "Oh my goddess!" or "Holy Zeus!" instead.
Yet Christians keep insisting it's a swear word to call out to Jesus or God when someone's upset. Huh?
Dictionary Definition Of The Word "Vain"
- Vain | Define Vain at Dictionary.com
4. without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless: vain pageantry; vain display. 5. Archaic. senseless or foolish.
What Taking God's Name In Vain Actually Means
I'm going to tell you something that may surprise you or cause you to stop reading, but I hope you will keep an open mind and continue. I'm not a Christian anymore. I still have passion for Christianity and a respect for Christians. I see why religion is important to them and even envy them sometimes for having it.
But I don't believe in it anymore and most of it is because of people taking God's name in vain. That's why this issue is so important.
I don't want to destroy Christianity, I would like to strengthen it. I read through the Bible many times and studied it in college. I know it better than most Christians.
If you don't want to lose people, souls like me, then stop taking God's name in vain. A person's name is who they are. It's their reputation. Taking something in vain means making it meaningless.
As a Christian, you are an ambassador of God, especially when you attribute his name to your actions. If you say that God sent you to be a missionary and then go out and fail at being a missionary, it makes it look like either God's a liar and can't help people achieve their goals or he isn't real and that you hallucinated him talking to you.
It drives people away from converting to your religion and makes people leave your religion more than anything else that Christians do.
What I gave you was a mild example. In my own life, I had adults in my life who physically abused me growing up. Adults who told me I was possessed and going to hell.
My first boyfriend (who I dated for years) used to have seizures and claim they were visions from God. I talked to him during one of them before and he repeated my words to me and said,"Jesus told me these things." He didn't believe me when I said that I was the one who told him these things, not God, and even broke-up with me after one of these seizures because he said that "God" told him to break-up with me. He used to call me a doubter and say I was terrible for not having faith in him.
I knew a schizophrenic adult as a teenager who told me that she was in a mental hospital because of her "visions from God." She told me about her creepy visions in detail. They had to do with sex and other dimensions. She thought she got out of the mental asylum by screaming "Let me out, in the name of Jesus!" over and over again. I'm pretty sure that they just couldn't hold her legally anymore and her husband came to pick her up. Saying Jesus' name has never gotten anyone out of a mental hospital ever.
I had a Christian try to faith heal me and even push me and squeeze me forcefully as they were trying to make me get better unsuccessfully.
All these people took God's name in vain and made me associate Christianity and God with abuse, mental illness, physical illness, and fraud. And I didn't mention all the examples I had of Christians doing this. I didn't even mention half of them. After awhile of seeing these things, it becomes impossible to believe in a God that has these people as followers.
If you don't want Christianity to die, then stop taking the Lord's name in vain. Stop using it for your own greed or selfishness or pride. Stop using it to try to make yourself look good. It's made Christianity and God look terrible.
If instead, Christians were obsessed with giving God the glory for all their accomplishments and never using his name to try to justify their actions, he wouldn't be so mocked and belittled in this world.
I'm not saying you are like the people in my examples, if you are Christian. I am just saying that this commandment is about how doing those things is wrong.
And if you're a Christian and you see another Christian doing something that makes God look bad (like going door to door screaming at everyone that they're going to hell), then it might help if you step in and confront them about it.