Do we take God’s name in vain too casually? The Author Collection.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

I learned to swear in eighth grade.  One of my girlfriends taught me. She didn’t teach me the words; instead, she demonstrated that I could, because she did.

I had already learned some of the words from my dad, who only swore at home, and usually as he came down the hall exclaiming loudly as he advanced into the living room.  Even so, to be on the safe side, I tried not to swear at home, just in the company of my friend.

Beca Lewis
Beca Lewis

However, you know how that goes. One day, some form of profanity slipped out in front of my dad, and then we had a discussion.  “But, Dad,” I said, “You swear!” I have no idea what he thought. Probably one more instance where he wished he had never taught me to speak up for myself, or proclaim what didn’t seem right, or be an independent thinker.

I do remember the answer though. It was the variation of the one he used when he told me I could break the rules of the English language, but only if I learned, and used, the rules first.  This one was that swear words could be used when I didn’t have the intelligence to find a better word to express myself, or when it was the perfect word for the situation.

All these years later, I still haven’t acquired that much intelligence to keep myself from occasionally using a swear word or two, or three; although I still hear my dad’s voice asking me if that was the right word for what I was trying to communicate.  Sometimes it is.

Recently I started wondering what taking God’s name in vain means. The question being, are we taking God’s name in vain when we swear, which would mean that even the popular OMG is breaking the third commandment? Laugh with me will you, because I promise you, I don’t think that at all.

Instead, I think we break it in a much more profound way, and most of the time without even knowing what we are doing.

TheDailyShift-FrontCoverTo see it clearly, let’s first look at what the word “vain” means. There are two definitions, both of which, oddly enough, work in this discussion.  One is, “having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth,” and the other is, “producing no result; useless.”

Don’t we take “God’s name in vain” when we declare ourselves to be the creator of our life, capable of doing everything on our own, and in charge of our universe? It is the grownup version of what I would say to my mom when she wanted to help me with something.  Being young and foolish, and not trusting her motivation, or ability, and wanting to declare my independence, I would – usually impolitely – say, “I can do it myself.”

Sometimes I could, sometimes I couldn’t.  However, always, without the only Cause and Creator, the infinite intelligence called God, not the man in the sky god (whose motive and abilities I definitely question), but the divine force call God, we can’t.  When we say we can, we are in the first definition of “vain.”

Moving to the second definition of “vain,” how often do we say that Love is the only power, and yet act, and speak, as if it is not?  Isn’t this declaring that omnipresent Good is not always powerful, does not always produce a good result, and is often useless?

As daily life presents us with multiple issues or problems, some of which may feel impossible to solve, how do we not take God’s name in vain. Here’s how. We trust that Good is the only power. We trust that no matter what problem we find ourselves within, there is a love-based solution. We trust that we will know it when we turn away from fear-based suggestions.

As we understand God with more clarity, those love-based solutions may change shape, but no matter what they look like, we will recognize and honor them.  We won’t expect them not to work, we won’t expect that we know better.

Unlike my dad’s caveat about breaking English language rules, we can’t break these rules even after we learn them. That is, if we are intelligent enough to recognize that we are not intelligent enough to be the Creator and underlying force of the universes; and the power that did, and does all that, must also be Good, or it would be fighting itself, and losing.

Here’s the part that makes this all much easier to do.

Do you know the real meaning of the words “thou shall not?” These are not words spoken in anger, or promised retaliation.  These words mean, “You won’t be able to.” Think about what this means.  As we strive to emulate and understand infinite Good, we won’t be able to do “wrong” things because it won’t be part of us anymore.

OMG won’t that be awesome!

Please click the book cover image to read more about Beca Lewis and her books.

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