The Catholic Blog

The Holy Name of God

Posted on 3/5/2018 by Stacy Mal

When my daughter accidentally said it...

Tonight, one of my kids accidentally said, “oh my God.” She knew, the second it came out of her mouth, that she said it. In fact, the whole house went quiet… you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was staring at her, eyes wide in surprise. Her eyes were just as wide… well, that is, before they filled with tears.

We don’t say that phrase in this house. In fact, you’re probably better off throwing out an f-bomb around here... (ok, not really. That’s not encouraged either.) But the point is, we take very seriously Exodus 20:7, and Deuteronomy 5:10-11 that says, “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His name.” It’s even part of the Our Father prayer that we pray together as a family.. “Our Father, who art in heaven, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME.”

The word “God,” (at least in this house,) is not just a word to be thrown around when things don’t go your way, or when something catches you off guard. There’s plenty of other words to choose from in those instances. It’s not a curse word; it’s not slang. It’s a person—our Father, our Creator, our provider, our beginning and end, our everything. And so, around here His Name is held high… respected, esteemed. It’s saved for prayer and praise and thanksgiving.

Of course, we didn’t need to remind our daughter of this. She didn’t need any extra guilt. She knew what she said. She felt bad enough, and clearly didn’t mean to do it. Which I guess is what made me the saddest.

She said it because she hears it… a lot… in public, on TV, everywhere... and so it just came out. And that makes me sad…. that somehow, something so divine and glorious has become so commonplace. Something – Someone – who is indescribable, beyond words, exceeding human language – has been deduced to mere slang.

And yeah, ok, you can argue, “it’s just a word. No big deal.” But the Bible clearly says it IS a big deal. It’s the third commandment, actually. And it’s more than a word, it’s a name. Look at how many even say the name “Jesus Christ” on a whim…. Somehow the name that causes evil to flee and disease to disappear … the name that causes angels to kneel and demons to tremble… the name that gives us freedom and authority and power…. somehow THAT name—that mighty and awesome name—is now used by people when they’re cut off in traffic, when they stub their toe, or miss a golf put.

The problem is, using God’s name frivolously not only brings judgment upon us, it desensitizes us to His grandeur. It’s the watering down of all things holy…. Until at some point there’s no more awe or reverence left for spiritual things.

I don’t know…. Just thinking and rambling tonight... And praying for a renewal....

“Let the nations tremble…let the earth shake…Let them praise your great and awesome name...” (Psalm 99:1-3)