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…
- 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?
- 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.