by Rod D. Martin
August 15, 2013

A good friend posted the following on Facebook, to which I respond below:

Holy, holy, holy is The Lord of Hosts! He who is and was and is to come! Lord God, your name is holy and is to be revered by men!

One of the most gut wrenching things I hear in the culture around me is the lack of regard for the Lord’s name. When people say not only the OMG, but also the “Oh, my gosh!” Or even the “Gaaaaah” are we diminishing the “godness” of our God?”

I spent a week with a couple of “unreligious” Buddhists last week (as they define themselves), and whose name did they use?

Not Buddha’s.

My response follows:

I’m really grateful for your strong stand in defense of our Lord and Savior. This is truly important.

However, I really have to respectfully take issue with aspects of the standard you are applying. I agree fully that we should not violate the commandment (or more precisely, that we should give glory to the Name). And I agree that the initials you mention (which I will not repeat, because I think doing so is committing the exact sin you describe) are certainly intended by all who use them as a profanity.

However, I don’t think you can say that about, for instance, the use of the word “gosh”. Or “golly”. Or “gee whiz”. Or other equivalents. First of all, the Bible nowhere establishes this standard, and we are not to bind the conscience of another where the Lord Himself does not. But more to the point, in our society, I don’t think you will find a single soul who means to hide a profanity by saying, e.g., “gosh”.

Quite exactly the contrary: in this society, for one to say “gosh” or some equivalent is to go out of the way to avoid a profanity. It is to mark one’s self as standing apart: you align with Archie, Jughead, Barnie and Andy.

I know this from personal experience. I know that when that blue-haired ancient in First Baptist Church of Ozark, Arkansas accused me of doing otherwise when my nine-year-old self uttered the inexcusable “gosh”, it had never once occurred to me me that it “stood for” anything except itself — I had not the slightest intention then to profane the Name and would not have known anyone thought otherwise but for that “helpful” soul — and to be quite frank, when I write “gosh” this instant, I have no more intent of substituting for profanity than I do of substituting for the word “apple”.

Again, I mean this with nothing but respect, because I perceive your intent to not only be pure, but to be zealous in the defense of our Savior, which is nobility in and of itself.

Nevertheless, as I see it, the legal standard you are attempting to establish is that merely by employing an interjection — any interjection, albeit particularly those which begin with the letter “g” — we necessarily profane. I would submit that not only is that standard not found in Scripture, but that it assumes intent on the part of the speaker which is not itself in evidence. And by the standard Scripture clearly gives us, there is no sin if there is no intent.

Now of course, as with meat sacrificed to idols, we may surely follow a standard individually to which God does not hold us. But we should not expect others to join us. By the same token, if it troubles your conscience, I should probably avoid saying “golly” in your presence, or in the presence of a certain blue hair who shall remain nameless (and who probably died sometime before I learned my multiplication tables).

All this said, once again, praise God for your zeal; and let us hope your favorite Buddhists aren’t on Facebook reading about themselves. 😉