It’s like any other bad habit that is difficult to break – except that it is the second of the ten commandments! I’m talking about the misuse, and even the total disrespect of God’s name. In Old Testament days, after God revealed His name, Yahweh, to Moses, God’s name was considered so sacred that it could not be spoken. It was thought to be so holy that it couldn’t even be written down. It had to be symbolized – YHWH in order for one to even make reference to God.
In the New Testament, St. Paul said to the Philippians, ” Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2:9-11) A woman once told me that at her Catholic grammar school in the 1950’s, every time Jesus’ name was said, students had to bow their heads. I thought about this for a moment. I teach religion. If I had my students bow every time I said Jesus’ name, it might cause laughter instead of reverence. I say His name a lot! Still the idea that Jesus’ name was considered to be so sacred that it demanded a physical response is impressive!
How far we have strayed as a society from that attitude of profound humility before God, our Maker. It is indeed sad and regretful that in today’s world, we hear God’s name misused so much that many have become desensitized to its abuse. We are bombarded with this in movies, television and books. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to become complacent. This is our All- good, All- loving, All- knowing, and All- Just Father we’re talking about!
In my classroom, at the beginning of the year, I challenged my students to kick the “OMG habit,” while talking and texting. I encourage them to remind each other (when one slips back into the habit) with kindness – answering with “Oh my goodness,” or another, more appropriate interjection. This brings to the speaker’s attention what he/she just said without being preachy or condemning. I am so proud of the kids. They have really taken the challenge seriously.
I did also throw out the idea of turning off television shows or movies that disrespect God’s name (or that are just plain disrespectful to the human race in general). This was a bit more uncomfortable for them. It involved a sacrifice. It is difficult for us adults as well. However, if we sit there and watch it, we’re condoning it, whether we like to think of it that way or not.
Will you take the challenge that my teens have taken? Let’s all set a loving example, and help to spread respect for God’s Holy Name in our homes, in our workplaces and in the world.