Is it wrong to say God’s Name, even if it’s not necessarily in vain?
Recently I began a conversation with a girl that began in a simple “you shouldn’t say that” regarding her usage of God’s Name in her posts on social media. It should be noted that none of these posts explicitly used God’s name in the conventional way that many Christians associate with being “in vain”; that is she didn’t say “God damn it” or “Jesus Christ” or any combination of profanity with God. Her posts made references to a “Cat God” and “Gods of men” — her response to my reproval was fury, anger, and the desire to reprove me of my own behavior. In her defense I used to be in the habit of telling ANYONE not to say God like that, but her path crossed mine as I saw her public posts on Facebook and I was already interested in her. Despite an explanation on the difference between right and wrong, my intention of reproval and not control, her angered ego could not be calmed and unfortunately the conversation ended negatively.
To shed light on the matter, it is indeed wrong to use God’s Name (any of them) without the utmost reverence and respect (also pointed out to the girl that I had engaged in conversation with), especially as Christians. To consciously refute this or to make usage of His Name is conscious blasphemy of the Spirit — human beings owe the Father not only their lives, their souls, and their physical bodies, but also their appreciation. While similarly to other times when God’s thanksgiving is not required by suggestible, such as Thanksgiving itself or when a favor is needed, using God’s Name in a fashion that does not convey the reverence He is due is wrong. Furthermore, it is not even that this action is wrong. A statement of reproval against these practices is not necessarily a rallying call to change one’s life and behavior: it can be a sign of affection for another human being and not an opinionated statement of finality.
Obviously this is not the end-all, be-all definition of sin. While misusing the Name of God, as previously pointed out in other blog posts, is wrong in the sense that it is a sin, it is NOT right, it is not generally damning behavior that should be the first priority on every level and account. Yet refusal to see the practice of misusing God’s Name (without respect and reverence) can lead to deeper connected sinful practices. As also previously said, I used to say “you shouldn’t say that” on every single occasion that I heard or witnessed someone saying His name in vain, and almost every time that it was used without respect (there are exceptions like making God the subject or saying Oh God), but now it is a situation that I must pick and choose when to intervene. This advice may be prudent for other Christians or servants of the Lord; sometimes the best way to help others is not by direct action and regrettably the described incident above had a negative ending. However, sometimes God’s Word must be heard — if not in the Bible or at Church, by everyday people.
For those who are interested in supporting Scripture on the matter of respect and reverence of God, examples are provided below:
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
A God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? (Psalm 89:7)
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37)
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)