The Third Commandment

Evangelical Christian culture has a specific idea of what the third commandment entails and goddammit, they won’t hear anything else.

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The evangelical definition of taking God’s name in vain is so far-reaching that it has become the mainstream (secular) definition. Ask someone what it means to take God’s name in vain and regardless of their faith tradition or religious persuasion they will probably tell you that it means using one of God’s many pseudonyms in an exclamatory or thoughtless manner.

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Much of western Christianity doesn’t even know that the commandments were issued to the same Israelites who, when they asked God his name, weren’t given a straight answer. They still don’t have an answer…. The commandment issued on Mount Sinai wasn’t intended to censor careless bandying about of a literal name, but rather was stating we are not to use God to justify or legitimize an action that is not justified or legitimated by God.

Getting this detail wrong has resulted in Christian culture declaring God’s position on causes such as war, marriage rights, evolution and megachurches, all while staunchly refraining from typing “omg” lest they blaspheme the name of G-d. The irony is excruciating.

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