What does it mean to ‘Take God’s Name In Vain’? And why does God consider it as serious as Murder, Lying, and Thievery?

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If you’re old enough, you may have been taught the Ten Commandments, as passed down in the Bible that most Christians aim to follow as their guidebook — or maybe you’re vaguely aware of them, but would find it difficult to pick them out of a hodgepodge of other old-fashion wisdom.

Let’s try a little quiz… pick out, from the following, the advice that comes from the Ten Commandments, and figure out which of the rest aren’t even from the Bible:


  • Don’t kill.
  • Don’t murder.
  • Don’t lust after other people’s things.
  • Don’t take other people’s things.
  • Respect your parents.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Don’t speak God’s name without reverence.
  • Go to church every Sunday.
  • Celebrate the birth of your Savior.
  • Sinning leads to everlasting torture.

How do you think you did?

Here are the answers:

  • Don’t kill: Nope. This bad translation is often held up by non-believers as a proof that the Bible is crap, what with all the God-commanded killing throughout the Old Testament. Try…
  • Don’t murder: YES… if you can’t understand the difference between killing and murder, you might be a vegetarian — or, if you realize that eating plants is also killing, you might actually have starved to death by now.
  • Don’t lust after other people’s things: YES, this is in the Ten Commandments.
  • Don’t take other people’s things: YES, this too, was one of the things God feels you shouldn’t do.
  • Respect your parents: YES, God wants us to understand that our elders are an important part of our identity, and our structure of behavior — as He has designed.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: Close, though this one is actually in the Bible (Matthew 7:12), it’s not part of the Ten Commandments.
  • Don’t speak God’s name without reverence: YES, this is just as important to God as not murdering, et al.
  • Go to church every Sunday: Nope. Though the Ten Commandments do say to ‘remember the Sabbath Day’, most scholars (even in the Catholic Church, who created the “Lord’s Day” on Sunday but admit that it’s totally on them) understand this to be Saturday — and further, the Bible records no command to ‘religiously’ attend church services on that day, or any day. We are taught to learn together, pray together, congregate with others of similar beliefs, and the Old Testament traditions record many rules about what is and is not appropriate on the Sabbath — but these two points are clearly not from the Ten Commandments, or anywhere in the Bible.
  • Celebrate the birth of your Savior: This is where things get a little sticky — not only is this not commanded, quite the opposite is true… the only time Christmas is even vaguely mentioned is in Jeremiah 10. The custom of celebrating birthdays itself is from pagan origins… one of the things that the Bible as a whole consistently deems opposite God’s wishes.
  • Sinning leads to everlasting torture: Breaking one or more of the Ten Commandments will … to this day … make our Creator sad, angry, jealous, and justified in toasting your carcass in any manner He sees fit. BUT… the Hell ‘known’ to modern Christianity is from Catholic mythology, not the Bible. The Catholics liked to borrow beliefs from other cultures as a way of assimilating people who they wanted to dominate — the fear inspired by the idea of torture throughout eternity was just too tempting for the Catholic priesthood to leave alone — what better way to scare people into obeying? The Bible, however, describes a fire that is everlasting — not an everlasting torture. God does get angry, but the worst He would do to you is to separate you from Him for all eternity (if you choose not to live His way)… Satan has done a very good job at perverting Christians’ view of the nature of God by twisting this understanding. It’s to the Devil’s advantage that Christians believe God is willing to torture you forever while ‘claiming’ to love you.

Now that you’ve waded through what many of you will deem ‘blasphemy’ (if it’s not what you know to be true, it must not be true), what was that thing about using God’s name improperly? What does it mean to use His name ‘in vain’?

Let’s pretend your name is ‘Bob’. And let’s pretend you have lots of children, whom you love dearly. But as they grow up, and their individual natures develop, you are dismayed to see that most everything that you have taught them they only make a token attempt at following — and take great pride in themselves when they get away with doing things opposite your teaching, without suffering any consequences.

After a while, they (and their friends) begin to get a little giddy that they’re so successful at avoiding your gaze, and your admonishment, and maybe even your punishment. Eventually, they even begin to mock you as young adults — at how you used to be important, but aren’t any more. You might say you’d feel a little upset… maybe even a little jealous of the respect that you should feel from them; but don’t.

Eventually, they take that mocking tone into their everyday language… they use your name as an expletive — like, “Wow, you really Bobbed that one!”. Or when injured, exclaim, “BOB THAT HURTS!”. The only time words leave their mouths that might be confused for respect are when they wish your anger would come down on someone they are upset at, “BOB DAMN YOU!”.

In no way are they actually talking about you, or to you, at this point. They’ve just reduced your name to one of the many dirty words they toss around in an effort to impress their friends that they follow no one’s standards — they obey no one’s rules.

Your name is no better than shit. Interchangeable, in many cases, with shit.

Is that the reverence that God deserves from His children? We can be sure that in the Old Testament, when the Ten Commandments were written in stone, this observed behavior was not new to Him. And no one spoke in surprise or confusion at this command — so the practice of abusing our Creator’s name was already a familiar behavior, thousands of years before we arrived to read it in the Bible.

So, we aren’t being ‘edgy’ when we misuse God’s name. In fact, it’s one of the earliest-recorded ways to hurt God’s feelings. Taking pride in this is a dismal, shameful, disrespectful tragedy of human frailty.

You probably weren’t thinking that you were showing off your frailty when you picked up this habit, were you? Using His name ‘in vain’, or for foolish, shallow reasons — was important enough that when God narrowed down ALL the things He could have chosen for His people to learn down to TEN ITEMS… this was among those few. Do you have a legitimate reason for putting it at a lower priority than He did?

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