Posts Tagged ‘language’

The Second Commandment.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

My wife likes gardening and has a garden.  She reads Rodale Organic Gardening.  In one issue, the last article was,  “Conscious Cursing for Kids!”.  The author, a mother, allows her child to curse and actually encourages her to do so. For instance, her daughter asked her Mom the meaning of “damn”. She taught her daughter that  “damn” means it is a cuss word and it shows you are angry. “Damn:  to condemn to a punishment or fate; especially :  to condemn to hell.”   Mom simply demonstrated the word’s use to convey anger.   She described the word’s effect but not define it’s meaning. By itself “damn” has an implied subject:  God!  I want the other person to go to hell.  I literally pray God by invoking this curse that this person spend eternity in hellfire.  The Lord, though, does not desire anyone to go to hell, in fact, has given us His Son so we do not. The author of this article did not define the word because she either does not know the actual definition or wants to avoid the spiritual meaning of the word. 

This mom’s reason to encourage her daughter to swear is basically people are doing so anyway and it is honest. It used to be said, “I don’t want to be a hypocrite”, since I swear anyway.  Fathers and Mothers have to be hypocrites at times and in the Lord we have to work at all times in not being hypocrites.  Her justification for her daughter to swear is that cuss words are “just words” and it is better to think apart from “unchangeable rules”. Let’s look at those two presuppositions.

1. Words do matter.  So will this mom teach her daughter that “nigger”, “faggot” and calling a grown woman “girl” are “just words”?  I do not think so.  Does mom want her daughter not to obey her when she is in danger from touching the hot stove, or later in life, experimenting with drugs? Words do matter, and so much so, that the hordes of political correctness do not want certain words uttered in public…by law, and so circumventing our First Amendment rights.  Words do matter, like, “I love you”.  Are those “just words”?  Hardly.  Words convey the authority of the one speaking them and accomplish the inherent intent behind them.  If a commanding officer says, attention, that word will do what the speaker wants.  By self selectively choosing which words are “just words”, then this is fantastical and purely rebellious.  What happens when her little girl, grows up and tells someone “f*** you”, and that person smacks her. Words do matter.  She taught her that “damn” expresses anger, so Mom, that word, damn, actually does convey something real.  There are not “just words”.  

2.  There are unchangeable rules and this Mom knows there are as she admits as much in her article.  She just decides not to follow them.  Once again, will she want her daughter to not follow Mom’s rules?  “Go to school”.  “No, Mom, I have decided not to follow that unchangeable rule. Oh, Mom, your rules are just words”.  I will speculate that this Mother has “unchangeable rules” about all sorts of things, otherwise no one could be raised up.  There is right and wrong.  She wants to deny not the rule primarily, but the rule’s “unchangeable” quality.  Why?  “Unchangeable” can only come from one Source:  the Lord.  Post-modern thought teaches all of our ideals, concepts and yes, “rules” are social constructs invented by men and women, but that fantasy belies the fact that there are non-negotiables, i.e. law. Even to say there are no “unchangeable rules” is an unchangeable rule!  It is then an endless loop.   This is the devil’s clever lie that there is no moral Authority, except even as this Mom could, by God’s grace, admit one day, there is this Authority, otherwise as Mom she could not raise her child, just as you have to do certain things to grow a garden.  No “maybes”, “have-tos”. 

All of this just furthers the cheapening of public discourse.  Comedians such as Lenny Bruce in the ’50s and George Carlin in the ’60s and ’70s made a living off of using profanity to demonstrate they are “just words”.  Now, as the Mom said that when she lived in Brooklyn, you hear cussing all the time, so let the tongue wants what the tongue wants.  Even today, though, in spite of all this philosophical wrangling about “just words”, people still do not want to hear certain words while watching “The Big Bang Theory” or a favorite TV show.  These words are profane substitutes for real critical thinking and discourse.  As Ian Anderson wrote in his song, “Thick as a Brick”, “I may make you feel, but I can’t make you think”.  We substitute a powerful emotion (anger, disgust, rage) by using a profanity  for thinking through the solution to the problem before us.  This is hard for adults to learn! 

 Yet, there is something worse afoot in this article.  Mom taught her daughter that it is okay to even say:  “f***king Christ on a pair of sticks” if she really wants.  Notice that once profane words are used that blasphemy is always close behind, that is, using the Name of the Lord in vain and Mom is teaching her daughter that this is also okay.  I do not know what this  article has to do with organic  gardening except the Mother is planting noxious weeds in her own daughter’s heart, soul and mind.  When I first posted this article, I made a mistake in the title substituting “swearing” for the actual word in the Rodale article, “cursing”.  Swearing can be good as in Pledge of Allegiance, or in a court of law, but cursing is never for this means we are being God cursing those whom God would save. Blasphemy becomes fun and acceptable but such weeds choke out the planting of the seed of the Gospel:  Jesus Christ. Maybe this article should be entitled, “Conscious Cursing of Kids”. Once a garden is choked with weeds, it is nigh on to impossible to plant the good seed.  Our Lord has a solemn warning about this sowing of weeds in the lives of children:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. (St. Mark 9: 42)


13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (St. Mark 10: 13-16)

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Molly Ziegler-Hemmingway is a member of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who writes a regular column for Christianity Today, the Wall Street Journal, etc.  This is from   Christianity Today   and was posted at Cyberbrethren, one of the oldest Lutheran blogs. 


Before my friend’s dad became a Lutheran pastor, he was a rough and tumble seaman who, well, swore like a sailor. He was even reprimanded once by a Navy superior for using excessive foul language. So when The Pacific, HBO’s new series about Marines in World War II, came out, he made sure to catch it.

But he could not watch it. The language—particularly the taking of the Lord’s name in vain—was just too much. When a sailor says you’ve crossed the line, you’ve crossed the line.

The series was on HBO, a venue that loves going to extremes. But taking the Lord’s name in vain has become something of a pastime in popular culture.

Jonathan Chait, a senior editor at the liberal political magazine The New Republic, wrote a blog post during the health-care debate that shocked me. “J—- C—–,” the headline began, followed by the statement that some arcane legislative process was “Not That Difficult!”

When Tiger Woods returned to golf following his sex scandal, he retained his habit of cussing a blue streak whenever he made a bad shot. “G–! Tiger! J—- C—–!” he said after a lousy drive. The announcers didn’t even flinch. Critics scolded Brit Hume for suggesting that Woods needed Christ’s forgiveness, but almost no one cared when Woods swore in Christ’s name.

Vice President Joe Biden got a lot of grief for dropping the f-bomb before President Obama signed health-care legislation into law. But how many people noticed that he used “Jesus Christ” to curse in a Wall Street Journal interview last year?

It used to be considered unacceptable to speak this way. Now it’s beyond common.

Exodus 20:7 tells us, “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” (ESV).

For many of us, this commandment means, “Don’t cuss.” It does—but it means so much more than that.

Unlike the mythic gods of the ancient world, Yahweh is not revealed only by things in nature but is primarily known by his name and the deeds associated with that name. In the prologue to the Ten Commandments, Yahweh identifies himself and says he brought the Hebrews out of bondage. God’s name is mentioned 5,343 times in 23,213 verses of the Hebrew text of the Bible.

“It is the revelation of his name that makes the Hebrews into his people, and it is by his name that he is to be remembered among his people forever. The name, then, is the only thing that Yahweh’s people have by which to know and to worship him,” writes David L. Adams in The Anonymous God.

The first tablet of the Law includes the commandments connected with God’s self-revelation, which have specific threats of punishment and are expanded with explanations. That probably indicates that God cares deeply about his name and how we use it. Surely something so important to God ought to be important to us, even if it’s completely counter to the spirit of our culture.

Unlike other commandments dealing with adultery and murder, the third commandment’s prohibitions can be harder to recognize as sin. We think it doesn’t matter as much because, after all, it’s “only words.”

The second commandment doesn’t just mean we should avoid cursing or swearing in God’s name. It’s possible to violate it even if we never utter a curse word.

Martin Luther said that “the greatest abuse” of this commandment occurs “when false preachers rise up and offer their lying vanities as God’s Word.”

In other words, false doctrine taught by those who claim to speak for God is worse than the crudest and most profane comedy special ever to air. When pastors go beyond Scripture to promote the gospel of prosperity or to tell parishioners not to worry about sexual immorality, they are not just wrong—they have also blasphemed God’s holy name.

As with all commandments, we keep them not just by avoiding certain behaviors but also by doing good works. So we are reminded to pray, praise, and verbally give thanks to God for his goodness and to call out to him in times of trouble. We must work to ensure proper teaching and employ God’s name in defense of truth and goodness.

Or, as the psalmist says, “… call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (50:15, ESV).


This was not in the article but it is the basis of the article and it is always good to remember:

You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.

What is this?  What does this mean?

Dr. Luther, from The Small Catechism:  We should fear and love god so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His Name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks

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