My daughter, bless her concerned heart, has long been getting into discussions with her friends about their use of the phrase "Oh my god!" She doesn't even like it when they say "Oh my gosh!" because it's the same thing spelled differently. Her average friend does not know quite how to handle her unyielding disapproval of language that is disrespectful toward God.
I tell her that even though she has a valid concern most of them will not get it, no matter how valid, because saying "Oh my god/gosh" is so popular and widely accepted. That even though it's being disrespectful toward God to use His name in a "vain", "empty" sort of way, it's not our problem. And if they insist that it's harmless then it's not up to us to force the way we do things onto them. This strong language is the only way I can get her to back down. Her father is extremely proud of the Lord for placing such strong conviction inside of her about this and now he realizes that he's got to teach her about the power the Lord has placed inside of her to allow her to manage this conviction properly.
And while I had a nice post written up this afternoon, something happened, autosave problems began to mount, and with one push of the wrong shortcut button my post disintegrated into cyberspace with only it's inadequate blurry remains left in my memory. So in a day or two I'll be able to pick up on this and give it another shot.
So my whole point here is to get some stuff down on record that my daughter and I can refer to.
The thing that immediately comes to our mind when God's 'name' comes up is thanksgiving and worship. As it probably is with most Christians.
When people use the phrase they are generally expressing dismay, anger or amazement. They're not seeking God's presence, His approval, even His help. They're expressing the same emotion that, when strong enough, turns into violent profanity. It never is actually about God. It's just a selfish and empty 'exclamation' usually related to confusion.
There is usually nothing 'about God' in saying "Oh my god". And if there's nothing about Him in it then His name is being misused 'vainly', in an empty and wasteful way. If one is saying "Oh my god" and 'is' referring to Him, then it's being disrespectful since He's told us not to refer to Him that way. And it would also stand to reason that if it's not about Him, then it's referring to a false god. The very Creator of all things has offered us an intimate relationship with Himself wherein He has asked us to remember that He is The God. Our God. "Hallowed be Thy name". A hallowed name that is not thrown around "with no purpose".
His name is to be honored. We call upon It for our salvation. It represents our Truth in a fleeting messy world.
The phrase "Oh my god" is often used by non-christians to connote the god of their particular concern of the moment. The weather god, the god of luck or good fortune, or 'this', or 'that' god. It's a phrase used commonly by people who have rejected the one true God who's revealed His Son and proved Himself to all men by raising Him from the dead. We don't want to share their vernacular. It's empty and presumptuous at best for them to talk that way and it's a way we don't want to imitate.
The biggest excuse I hear for justifying the use of the phrase "Oh my god!" is that friends and parents do it and, moreover, don't have a problem with it. That would be getting your authority from our friends and aquaintances instead of our Bible. Again, a very compromising position concerning the showing of respect for our Father God who has offered us a place in His kingdom.
I probably should be but I'm not quite done yet. I'm just thankful things let up a little so I was able to get back to this. Sorry it took so long. I'm eager to post some more on the blessing my church has been to me lately but want to get through this thing first. His kingdom come.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Around the year 892 B.C. four starving lepers outside the besieged city of Samaria came to a desperate choice. If we stay here, they reasoned, we will die. If we go into the city, we will die. If we surrender to the enemy, we will but die, and there is a chance we will be spared. So they walked out to the enemy camp.
When the arrived, to their amazement, they found it deserted. An entire army had fled in panic from an imagined enemy leaving all their provisions behind. As the four hungry lepers went from tent to tent helping themselves, they remembered the starving people in the city. "We're not doing right," they said. "This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. Let's go at once and report this to the royal palace." (see II Kings 7:3-9, in the Bible)
From early childhood on, I knew and loved the Bible stories such as the one just related. I could recite in perfect order the books of the Bible. I knew the parables, the miracles and the theology of my church. But there came a time when I discovered things in the Chrisian camp that disturbed me. By the time I became a young adult, disillusionment in some areas had raised the flag of doubt over it all.
At that point in my life I did not want any more Bible stories or sermons on church order and prophesy. I wanted to know the basic message of the Bible and I wanted to know if it was true or not. I remember sketching an imaginary threshing machine that would separate the main points from the details. I wanted a machine like that. In the course of thinking and dreaming, I decided that if there really was an underlying message in the Bible, I should be able to identify it, outline it on a 3 x 5 card, and scrutinize it point by point. I was afraid to examine the Bible for fear that it would not stand the test, yet I knew that in order to truly believe I had to run the risk.
I like the story about the lepers. I can identify first of all with their fear. They took a chance and so did I. I can also identify with the wonder that they felt. They came to a camp that a lot of people had abandoned and found treasure. Finally, I know exactly what they felt like when they said, "We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves." God has enriched my life with joy, peace, direction and a satisfied mind. Things like this should not be kept secret. Furthermore, half the joy of wonderful discovery comes from sharing it.
(The rest of the preface is a brief personal note to his customers. He is a truck farmer.)
This is the preface of a book my pastor gave to me the next time he saw me after hearing my testimony of finally finding and then getting to know the Lord. Very encouraging thoughts I felt. Now I'll read the rest of the book.
It's called Ecology and Beyond.