I have been using the last six posts to explore some of God’s key laws in the Bible and consider them not only laws that should be obeyed, because they are God’s laws, but also principles to follow in order to live the kind of life God had in mind for his image bearers when he created them.
What I have said is that, as a father, none of my own rules for my children are arbitrary. Even if I happen to say, “because I said so” when I am defending them, they all have a purpose in training them to be happy, productive, God-worshiping adults.
If I, though I am evil, don’t make arbitrary rules, why would we think our perfect Father in heaven would? He wouldn’t. The next law we will look at to consider as a principle is, “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).
It is true that we should not say the words, G-D, or J-C as an expletive. That is surely taking the Lord’s name in vain, but what else might we do to take the Lord’s name in vain?
Claiming to do something “in the name of the Lord” without proof that God wants us to do that thing would certainly be worse than using G as a cuss word, especially if that thing hurt others or impinged upon their freedom. Consider the narcissistic and abusive church leader who constantly says, “The Lord told me…” followed by some subjective statement that is impossible to prove and requires a sacrifice on your part.
Many holy wars have taken the Lord’s name in vain, inquisitions have taken the Lord’s name in vain, and countless other church injustices have taken the Lord’s name in vain. When “Christian” slaveholders claimed that the Bible justified slavery in the American south, the Lord’s name was taken in vain.
If I were to see this as a principle, then I should have the fear of God about presuming to claim that I am speaking for God when I move into any subjective territory that cannot be proven by the whole of Scripture.
I don’t have a great deal more to say about this. I need to think about it and may write again before moving on to the next commandment, which is to remember the Sabbath.
If you have any thoughts about “taking the Lord’s name in vain,” feel free to comment.