The Third Commandment: Do Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain


Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

There are two ways in which we can take the Lord’s name in vain.

One is through the common foul language of blasphemy. This is calling or using God’s names in vulgar ways.

The other is through speaking as if we were charged by God when we were not.

Both have terrible, natural consequences.

Imagine a scientist who proclaims, “Science shows that the polar ice caps are melting!” We don’t have to imagine a scientist who says these things, of course. But suppose that the scientist is misrepresenting the science, which shows that the polar ice caps are not melting, but expanding. What happens to that man, and what happens to society as a whole because of this violation of the Third Commandment? I don’t think it’s hard to explain.

(Since God is a God of Truth, and since Science is the pursuit of Truth, then God is the God of Science as well. Misrepresenting science is misrepresenting God, the same as misrepresenting Truth, Justice, Mercy, or any other divine attribute.)

But the common use of God’s names in foul language is also a crime. By reducing serious things to the unserious, it harms everyone involves. How high a regard is God and His divinity to those who shout God’s name when their fingers get jammed?

As a society, we should be careful to keep the serious serious, the sacred sacred, and things we should reverence reverent. If we truly love these things, these things which are defined and embodied by God, then we will love that God by carefully using His name and carefully representing his divine attributes.


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