OMG it’s the Second Commandment!

What is commonly referred to as the Second Commandment can be found in two places in Scripture.

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. – Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11

A friend of mine posted a status update on his Facebook wall, where he called into question the use of the acronym OMG (Oh My God) by Christians and its apparent condemnation in Scripture. Unfortunately he had to delete his status update because so many of his friend were offended, feeling like they had been called out for breaking the Second Commandment.

I have a few thoughts on this topic and I would like to share them. I do not believe “God” is God’s name. In fact, a good theology teacher would admit to you that we do not really know what his name is. According to most, it seems to be YHWH which is usually pronounced Yahweh (Ya-Way). This comes from Exodus 3:14. There are no vowels in written Hebrew — well there weren’t any vowels when the Old Testament was written. So the pronunciation of YHWH is a tradition. Most decent theologians should admit that the true pronunciation of YHWH is lost. Many believe that the Jewish nation was so afraid of using God’s name in vain, that they used the vowel sounds of the Hebrew word for Lord and transposed them onto YHWH which is where we get Yahweh. They did this to be extra careful not to actually say his name (in case it was in vain).

There is one other place in Scripture where God refers to himself by name. But it is not YHWH, if you look at Exodus 34:14 God says, “for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God’s name might not actually be “Jealous” it could be a “you are what you eat” thing. You can call God, Jealous, because he is jealous. I am not going to get into what he is jealous of or even if it is his actual name, it’s merely an interesting place in Scripture where he names himself.

Presently, we refer to God as “God” and treat that as if it were his real name — but it clearly isn’t. So I have a couple of questions…

  1. Is saying OMG breaking the 2nd Commandment? In other words, is the mere reference to God breaking the 2nd commandment if it is done in vain?
  2. Is saying OMG but meaning “Goodness” or “Gosh” more acceptable?

I would love to hear your input on this. I am really torn on this subject. Personally, I try not say “God” in vain… but I am not entirely convinced that it is wrong either.

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  1. Quite honestly I never use OMG. Not because I feared taking the Lord or God or whatever his name might be in vein but simply because I would rather use other words to express myself. If I did use OMG though, I would imagine myself saying oh my gosh or goodness as you stated. It doesn’t really matter how others take it as long as you, the person typing, know what you meant by it.

  2. If your conscience bothers you after the fact then I would say yes. Regardless His “given” name, God is the name we use to refer to Him…Case in point; when I lose my temper with a weed-eater or lawn mower and say G##dammit, I instantly feel like I’m going to bust hell wide open. OMG on a message board lacks the anger but why trivialize His name at all? Just my .02

  3. Lew,

    I left this comment on your friend’s fb status, but no one replied… so I’ll leave it here.

    I’m less concerned with someone saying OMG or anything else that might even be considered an expletive in our culture. Instead, I’m more concerned with Christians who use God’s name to promote things that God does not promote or to denounce things that God does not denounce.


  4. From Matt 7: Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    I’ve come to think this has more to do with the second commandment then simply saying “oh my God” or some other expletive use of sanctified names.

  5. I haven’t read any of my blogs in a LONG time so sorry this is late but I really want to comment on this. I kind of think that our modern view of what this verse means is really dumb. It’s not about just saying God’s name (Which is a noun and not his actual name and obviously not what they called him in Hebrew)it’s about invoking it I think. By that I mean that through God we are given the incredible privilege of asking him for things through prayer under his name. We should not abuse this by asking for vain and frivolous things. I’d be more prone to saying that I broke this commandment when I prayed to God for a playstation when I was 12 years old than if I had randomly used the word God out of context and capitalized it.

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