“Hallowed Be Thy Name”: Reverence and Respect for God’s Name

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I’ll establish some light-hearted context by noting a few of my pet peeves with grammar and punctuation.  1) I can’t stand when people mix “your” and “you’re” up.  2) If you want to make something plural, even if it’s an acronym, you DON’T put an apostrophe, i.e., you wouldn’t write “We should go get a few beer’s tonight.”  3) Look at this word: Nuclear.  It’s pronounced “noo-klee-ur”, NOT “nook-ya-ler”.  4) And for what it’s worth, it’s starting to really aggravate me when every other word that someone says is “like” or “you know”. 

I’m no stranger to profanity.  I went to an all-boys high school, I like war movies, and I serve in the National Guard.  I’ll admit that even though I have made an effort to keep a cleaner tongue, some days are better than others.  Needless to say, I’m not squeamish when I hear foul language.  If there’s any one profanity (or set thereof) that I’ve become less tolerant of over the years though, it’s violations of the Second Commandment. 

The Ten Suggestions.  Oh, wait…

The Second Commandment states “You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain” (Exodus 20:7).  This is a commandment that many Christians seem to take very lightly these days.  Father Larry Richards once said “it’s better to say ‘sh*t’ a thousand times than it is to take God’s name in vain once.” 

In the days of Jesus’ earthly life, the name of God (“Yahweh”) was too sacred to even speak.  Jesus not only spoke God’s name (an offense punishable by death), but He dared to call Him “Father”.  As if that wasn’t enough, He went as far as to call Him by the more affectionate name of “abba”.  Click here for further reading on this subject.

When I was at my Army training course last year, my group of friends knew that I was Catholic.  To my knowledge, none of them were active church-goers.  Earlier on in the course, one of them asked me if it offended me when they would say “JC” or “GD”.  I told him that I’d rather he didn’t.  Of course, old habits die hard.  He would use said profanities occasionally, but was quick to apologize.

Here’s the sad thing, though.  The people who, at least outwardly, do not follow any particular religion have been the most respectful of God’s name when I have requested it.  I can recall several instances in the last few years when I have heard Christians say things like “OMG” or “GD” (the actual phrases) without giving a second thought to what they’d said.   Worse even is that in some instances when I’ve called them out, I’ve been dismissed. 

A few common-use phrases to ponder…

What exactly is “taking the LORD’s name in vain”?  Anytime that His Name is used when it is not in prayer or teaching others about Him, that would be “in vain”.  If one were to say “Oh my G*d, I love pancakes”, that would be one such example (CCC 2148). 

1.  OMG (Even worse: OMFG).

2.  JC (Even worse: JFC).

3.  GD.

4.  Using profanities in church (I’ve witnessed this before).

5.  Saying “Jeez”.  This one might not seem that bad, but consider this: My name is Patrick.  Sometimes, people call me Pat.  “Jeez” is not only a terrible lack of reverence for Jesus’ name, but a diminutive form of His Name used in a non-prayer and non-catechetical manner.

6.  “Oh, Lord”, “Good Lord”, etc. 

Hallowed be Thy name.

The beauty of Christianity is that we have a deeper and more intimate relationship with God.  Profaning his name in such ways as our society does today is entirely inconsistent with this relationship .  Respecting His Name is not a matter of censorship or convenience.  If we call God our Father, then the least we owe Him is the utmost reverence and respect when calling upon and referring to Him (CCC 2144, 2148).

“…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that 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, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:8-11

Well, do they?

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