Thursday, September 30, 2010

On omg, etc.

Excuse me, my toddler is listening. He is absorbing words the way water is to a person with a fierce thirst.

Years ago, I was chattering away with a friend on a bus when a parent turned around and requested that we change the subject. My friend Meghan and I were talking about our "weight issues" and how we wished to lose a few pounds. There was a little girl sitting in front of us. Her dad overheard our (apparently very loud) conversation. And he put a stop to it.

My face was hot with embarrassment. We were quiet the rest of the ride. I was glad that he shut us up when he did. Wouldn't it be awful if a couple of obnoxious college girls made the child thinks that she needs to lose a few pounds?

This post is not about a healthy self-image.
It is about taking the Lord's name in vain.

Though I hear / read them often enough -- "God," "Lord," "Jesus," "Christ," I am still surprised and distressed whenever I hear Christians use them in their exclamations over trivial things. I am not sure what is behind it. Ignorance perhaps? Is it fashionable? Is it so we can look somewhat "edgy" as Christians, more like the world? Or it is a mindless habit?

I grant that the fourth commandment "do not take the name of your God in vain" covers a whole lot more than just "do not use his name as a casual verbal filler." But shouldn't it at least require that we pay attention when we do use God's name?

Jewish people, ancient and present, refuse to even say God's name out loud when they read Scripture. Instead, they read "adonai" (lord) at every place where Yahweh occurs. So much care goes into how they utter, how they bear God's name with their lips.

This brings me to the oh-so-vague acronym OMG. Yes, yes, your G means "gosh" or "goodness" or "god with a small g." But, you know what? I can't tell. It's like when girls tell me that they are wearing shorts under the oh-so-short skirt. Well, um... I can't see your shorts! And frankly, does it matter? What matters is what I do see.

All of this will seem ridiculous someday before the throne of the Almighty. There will be nothing cool and convenient about the careless words that we speak. By our words we will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37).

Hans puts it quite bluntly:
People are dying for the sake the name. What are you doing?

So, please. Toddlers everywhere are listening, please watch what you say.

This is a plea for you, for us.
We are all toddlers
learning to walk, learning to talk.
Wouldn't it be awful if I cause a little one to stumble?