Anyone alive today can attest to the popularity of this phrase: “Oh My God!” It is typically used to express shock or surprise concerning an event or even a joke. With the appearance of social networks—such as Facebook and Myspace—the phrase has been shortened down to three letters: “OMG.” The shortening of this phrase, and many other phrases, is to keep in rhythm with a culture that requires rapid communication to function. Though there is nothing wrong with shortening phrases, there might be something wrong with using God’s name so casually. Should the Christian be different?
Growing up in a Seventh-day Adventist home, I was blessed with the privilege of hearing the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) read out loud every Friday evening. Initially, I didn’t think that it was a blessing, but as I began to hear the voice of the Spirit speak to me, the Word of God had more meaning. Many years have passed since those initial stages, but I would like to go back to a particular commandment at this point to reflect upon.
The Third commandment, found in Exodus 20.7a (cf. Deut. 5.11), reads “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” An extreme interpretation might be seen as not saying the name of God at all. However, there is many scriptural references proving otherwise. This verse primarily refers to the treatment of God’s name by His followers. It is not to be used in vain [Heb. shav’ or shav: meaning emptiness, vanity, falsehood]. The name of God is not to be used as an insignificant term, spoken without thought. We should be conscience of when, how, and why we are using God’s name. Our social context may present alternative usages, but we must abide by what scripture says, if indeed we are the children of God.
If we are to use the phrase “Oh My God,” then let it be used with thought of the being that we are addressing, the God of heaven. This is not a call for a conservative attitude, but rather a call for a biblical mindset. If God is God then let the people of God use His name as such.
Article Copyright © 2009 by Jerry Jacques.