Her name was Jan. She was on the large side of average, comparatively friendly, and Italian. She was nice to me. And she cussed like a sailor’s salty uncle. But there was one thing that Jan claimed she couldn’t abide: combining foul language with blasphemous language. You know: using FCC-regulated words in the same expression as words that reference deity. Interesting . . . compelling, almost.
I’ve long thought that the flippant, unthinking use of the word “God” (or “Christ” or “Lord,” etc.) is inappropriate, irreverent, and blasphemous. While my tolerance for other types of inappropriate speech in movies, etc., is growing (to my discredit), I still cannot abide careless verbal treatment of my God. I would not overtly make an issue of this among non-believers, but I sometimes wince or turn away when God is treated poorly in word.
Ken Young’s plea in the song “Speak the Name of God” surely resonates, for most of you who are reading this:
In a world so full of profanity
Speak the name of God with care.
Christians, we should stay away from the ubiquitous abbreviation “OMG.” Certain other euphemisms for deity are dubious at best. But there is another kind of irreverence: flippantly or thoughtlessly attributing things to God.
“I feel the call of God on my life to ______.” I ask, How do you know? On the one hand, one who says such a thing may well have God-honoring intentions, but she also may be carelessly attributing something very human to the Lord over all life. Feeling “called” can amount to nothing more than feeling a personal desire, and it strikes me as presumptuous to suggest that human feeling is God’s call.
I heard this a few months ago from a “pastor” whose words I found careless … even irreverent: “I know God wants to use this contribution mightily in this city.” Really, Pastor Joe? Do you know that? Or is it that you are irreverently, carelessly using God to bolster your own (possibly good-at-heart) aggrandizing purposes?
There is more than one kind of irreverence, and the transcendent God deserves a) better use of his names and labels, and b) more care-full attributions overall.
Holy and reverend is his name.
– Psalm 111:9 (KJV)
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
– Psalm 96:9 (NIV)