Waiting for a wayward student on the school bus a few years back, my colleague and I did a roll call to figure out who was missing. The bus was quiet, and about three-quarters of the way through the list there was no response to the name called. In the pregnant pause that followed, from somewhere in the back, came a loud, “Je*** Ch****! She’s always late.” To which I couldn’t help but immediately reply, “I’d rather you drop a holy f***, than what you just said if you’re going to swear at all!” Needless the dead silence that followed told me that I had gotten my point across.
You shall not invoke the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. Ex 20:7
Our Lord has a name that is so holy; it needs to be handled with caution. His name is so powerful, if not used properly; it can be dangerous for the one speaking it. The very mention of God’s name should give pause for reflection. The sound of the Lord’s name demands veneration. It is a name so sacred, He knows that we can’t even hear it from His own lips – when Moses asked God’s name from the burning bush, the answer was an enigmatic:
I am who I am. Ex 3:14
Somehow, somewhere along the line, we seem to have lost this sense of the sacredness of the Lord’s name. In modern western society, it’s not at all uncommon to hear a pejorative Je*** Ch****! or OM(F-ing)G! at the drop of a hat, and nobody bats an eye.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still some circles where the name of God is still sacred; unmentionable even. My experience is that this is usually among the more orthodox Jewish communities, many of who will still write G*d or Y*w*h to communicate His name without writing it. I think we have a thing or two to learn from this treatment of God’s name.
So how do we combat this de-sanctification of our Lord’s holy name? How do we change a world that seems bent on infuriating God? The same way it disintegrated… One soul at a time.
At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Phil 2:10-11
As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God. Rom 14:11
One thing that I’ve started doing, in the hopes of at least making people aware of their words, is to change these pejorative utterances of our Lord’s name into a prayer with a simple: Blessed be His name forever! and then bow my head.
I’m not sure how much of an effect this is having, but I’m sure it’s unnerving a few people. My next step – when I get up the courage, will to begin genuflecting at the sound of the Lord’s name. I can just imagine the fun some in my extended family will have with this – but hopefully my perseverance will eventually pay off.