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Question: "Is saying 'OMG' or words like geez still taking the Lord's name in vain?"

Answer:
The idea of “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is first found in Exodus 20 when Moses receives the Ten Commandments. The third commandment states, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). What does this mean? How does it apply to terms like OMG and geez?

Taking the Lord’s name in vain is to speak of God with irreverence or disrespect. Many have traditionally understood the exclamation “Oh my God!” to be sinful, because it has nothing to do with a proper, reverent use of God’s name.

The same principle is true when a person uses an acronym such as OMG or a word like geez (the first syllable of Jesus’ name) or gosh (a modified form of God). If the intended meaning is to be disrespectful toward God and His name, the word should not be used. However, some people use OMG without any thought of its connection to God’s name, and that’s what makes this question difficult.

We could all use the reminder that our words carry meaning. As people who follow Christ, we care deeply about helping others and honoring God. We must ask ourselves, “Do these words help others and honor God?” If we are honest, we will probably admit that words such as gosh do not. It may not be easy to change a long-standing habit, but we must seek to speak words that build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and honor the Lord.

James 3:9-10 speaks of the tongue as a powerful part of the body: “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” Our goal is to be consistent in our use of words, so they would serve as a blessing to God and to others.

Paul wrote, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). This stands as our basis for evaluating terms such as OMG and geez. Does using these words give “thanks to God the Father”? If not, begin working to remove these words from your conversations and texts in order to honor God “in word and deed.”

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