Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What is Saying the Lord's Name in Vain

Last year I got frustrated with my students and ended a sentence with “Jesus!” A student got so mad at me that I had to take him out in the hallway and asked him why.

“You aren’t supposed to use the Lord’s name in vain,” he said.


Do Christians’ believe that saying “Jesus” is against the Ten Commandments? If I say “Jesus”, will a little counter go off in the sky? Minus one for Kronlage; he said Jesus.

I’ve met people who are paranoid about saying “God Damn” because they believe that is saying the Lord’s Name in Vain. Do they believe if they say it enough, it will prevent them from getting into heaven?

So there I was in the hallway wondering what I should say to this angry student. I told him that I didn’t believe that it was wrong to say “Jesus” and if he felt it was wrong, then he should worry about saying it himself, not preventing other people from saying it.

That didn’t help.

I once heard a Christian say that he was in an airplane and it was going to crash. He said a prayer and miracle of all miracles, the plane didn’t crash. God heard his prayer and saved him because God had plan for him.

That is using the Lord’s name in vain. To be so narcissistic that he believed God saved his life because he prayed is a sin in my opinion. Does God not have a plan for anyone who died plane crash? What about all those praying for diseases to go away only to die? God must not have a plan for them either. To believe that God listens to one prayer is to believe that God denies all the other prayers left unanswered. How can anyone be so vain?

There are 6 billion people on this planet. If God spent one second on each person, it would take 190 years to get through the entire population of the earth if God worked around the clock without a break. To say that God listened to us is using God’s name in vain.

What are prayers for? The person saying the prayer. Nothing more. It helps one realize that we cannot control how things turn out. That there is some force greater than ourselves. But to believe that someone listens to our prayers is self-centered.

I couldn’t tell my student all of that so I let it go in an unsatisfying way. What would you have said?


  1. i always thought taking the lord's name in vain meant using god as the reason for doing something bad (or to your own personal agenda), e.g. if someone tells you to go blow yourself up because god commands it, or kill that gay/black/jew/whatever because it is His will. Acting like you know what god wants other people to do is very tempting for some people ('priests' i believe they're called) and leads to people doing things they believe have got the big stamp approval. But the belief is in vain.

    Moody Writing

  2. Mooderino - I agree with you, but I'd take it a step further - for good or bad, whenever you call upon God's name, it's in vain. But I'm sure there are a lotof other opinions besides my own.