If the people of the world really thrill to what is happening to them or around them, they often exclaim with excitement, “Oh My God.” Have you noticed? How could you not? It is one of the most common mantras strangely enough in the unbelieving and God-ignoring society in this country. I can only speak for America, but I don’t doubt that it is very common in other countries and societies also. “Odios Mio,” in Spanish. “Oh Mio Dio” in Italian. “Ach Mein Gott” in German etc., etc. “Oh My God” in English.
Has it ever pinched you in any uncomfortable way when you hear it being thrown around like a Frisbee? Perhaps you heard it and it just didn’t sit well with you but you couldn’t really articulate why. It seems like every Tom, Dick, Susie, and Jane these days utter that phrase as naturally as breathing itself.
The naïve among us might be led to think that those who emphatically declare it are vocal believers who are having a moment of spontaneous worship. It would even seem these days to be a blurted-out confession of faith in moments of either euphoria or shock or both. Not only are they acknowledging God to be God, and that He has something to do with the impressive event or happening, but they are also owning Him as their God – Oh My God!!! If you will, a personal expression of faith in a Supreme Being.
What is more, I have often thought when I heard the outburst Oh My God, about Paul’s teaching in Romans 1:21,
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God,
or give thanks; but became futile in their speculations,
and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Something in their subconscious senses that there is a God, and in the pressure of emotional agony or ecstasy He pops our of their mouths. That is why they don’t say, “Oh My Dog” or “Oh My Dad” or “Oh My Honda.” That just doesn’t get it! A big-time ecstasy or a big-time agony requires a big time expletive, and it doesn’t get any bigger than God.
OH MY GOD – GOD DAMN IT
Whoa now, not so fast. I don’t mean to rain on the faith parade, but there is a very dark downside to all of this, so that when we hear it and see it for what it really is, it hits the drum major in our faith-parade in the face like a ton of buffalo chips.
What is that? Simply that the very same people who so often exclaim, “Oh My God,” when they encounter a negative experience, they despise what is happening so vehemently that they decry it with condemning rage in an equally common outburst, “God Damn It.” You’re kidding! No I am not kidding, for one is as plentiful as the other from the same people and from the same mouths. And in either case nobody seems to notice or care, as both of these statements are considered acceptable today as good manners even in mixed company.
In the first case in stunned ecstasy they claim God as their own wow-God, and in the second case they vehemently and even venomously damn God as their enemy. You say, “Wait a moment, they are not damning God, but rather, they are commanding God to damn the people or things that are causing them displeasure and pain.” Not quite that simple! For the truth be told, what they are really spewing forth in shrieking fury is not “God Damn It,” but rather “God be damned.” If you will, they are blaming and condemning God for the “whole damn thing.”
Now and then, you will meet a spiritually bankrupt degenerate who instead of damning God, will actually damn himself and unimaginably burst out with the words, “I’ll be damned.” People like that who do not repent and confess their sins will get their self-damning wish one day. It is frightening to see the spiritual and moral deterioration of character in modern society.
So then, God must either do a really good job and receive the world’s personalized acclaim, or if God does a really bad job He gets hotly and universally condemned. [We will address this more in detail later on, but suffice it to say that God is either a big winner or a big loser depending upon the circumstances.]
It should be noted that the “God damn it” or “damning-God” explosions are more natural to man than the owning of God with “Oh My God.” No big surprise, for we read about every man’s true nature from conception and birth in Romans 8:7 ASV,
“Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile towards God….”
The KJV puts it more clearly and the truth of it is devastating,
“For the carnal mind is enmity against God….”
“Enmity” means “Hatred,” and in crude street language to be blunt, it means that “The world by nature hates God’s guts.” We all do by nature! That is even tougher to hear and accept. So when people say “God Damn It,” they are in fact expressing their anti-God nature in blaming God or condemning God for the damnable event. It is only the amazingly exhilarating and positive experiences in life that will bring forth “Oh My God,” and for the briefest of moments take the fury out of the world’s anti-God, God-damning piranha frenzy. You may not like this, but like it or leave it, it is Bible truth.
Let me give you a couple of examples. In the world, it is either “Oh My God” or “God Damn It.” For instance, on the “House and Garden Channel,” or on the “Extreme Makeover” TV program, you will hear the participants celebrating with their modern mantra ad nausea, “Oh My God!” Of course, if the exclaimers did not have their digs remodeled, or they did not receive brand new digs for nothing, they would never positively and possessively confess God again in their lives, but instead would become disclaimers and disown/damn God at their very next discomfort.
Or again in all candor, in the best case scenario I have never heard Tiger Woods exclaim, “Oh My God,” but I have heard him in the worst case scenario again and again, after making an errant shot, disdain God by saying, “God Damn It.” It happened as recently as the latest Master’s Tournament for all of the world to hear and see as Tiger’s voice in “God-Damning” wrath echoed up and down the fairway from the rough where Woods spends a good deal of his time these days.
Apparently Tiger’s mother’s inherited Buddhism is not helping Tiger bring his foul temper under control. Tiger has a very high wall around him now, a wall of pride, anger, and yes, a wall of protection around him to keep people out and his immature and crippled and shamed self in. Like so many, so for Tiger Woods, as Dickens once said.
“IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, AND IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES.”
We pray for him and ask the Lord to bring Christian sports stars like Tim Tebow and Bubba Watson into his life, and that they will be given the opportunity somehow to lead him to Christ. Otherwise not only will his golf game continue to self-destruct, but Tiger Woods will continue to self-destruct too. It is so sad and painful to watch!
OH MY GOD – OH THE EMPTINESS
Many ignorant, godless people do not have a vocabulary that exceeds single digits, and even then it is mostly made up of chiefly vile, sacrilegious, and blasphemous expletives like “Jesus Christ,” “God damn it,” and even “holy crap.” They may have at one time been gurgling, sweet, cute, little babies, but because they have never allowed God to touch their hearts or their mouths, they spend their lives no longer gurgling but now gargling with profanity and constantly spitting it out in God’s face. Such disdain and disrespect have they toward the Holy God that they even call holiness crap and crap holiness the way a bullfighter and his fans all holler “Ole!” Welcome to our world!
[I simply must say parenthetically at this point that in order to effectively and pointedly write this article and declare the truth, I have had to present reality and reluctantly quote blasphemous and filthy words at times to make the point. And in all honesty they are all so unholy and repulsive that somehow my quoting them sounds just as bad as someone else using them afresh or should I say afoul.]
Not so long ago in America, and even in the American church, God-slanguage was considered a very bad deal and therefore a very big deal. Now, what used to make my parents’ faces turn bright red in righteous anger, today barely casts a faint pink across the countenances of modern dads and moms. I hear their church kids saying “Oh My God” constantly these days.
“But,” you say, “You surely don’t include ‘Oh my God’ with all of the other foulness, filth, and flagrant disregard for God, do you?” My response is, “Yes, absolutely I do!” Really? Yes indeed! Does that shock you? I hope not, but I discern that it does.
Today it is not at all unusual for church people, who also use the same “Oh My God” trilogy willy nilly, to do so without even so much as a tiny tweak in their hearts as they comfortably echo their culture. We are so surrounded by it in the world that we no longer react but tragically grossly under-react to God-dishonoring language. We look at it as only the innocent give-and-take of the culture, and so we downplay the outbursts that include God’s name in demeaning and empty ways. In fact, so far have we gone, that God-slanguage is not even considered to be bad etiquette any more, let alone the cheapening and trivializing of God’s name.
If you asked John Doe what he means when he says “Oh My God” in a particularly pleasing or exhilarating moment, in essence you would find that it would be without definition and without the slightest understanding of what he said. In short, he would more than likely say, “It is just an expression.” Walla! There is indeed the huge problem, for God cannot and may not ever be just an expression like any other in-vogue expressions. But that is what in fact it is, and ranks right down there with the emptiness and air-headedness of “Oh My Gosh” and “Oh My Goodness” and “Oh My God.” That is why we call them EXPLETIVES because:
“AN EXPLETIVE IS A WORD OR WORDS THAT CONTRIBUTE
NOTHING TO MEANING OR SUBSTANCE, BUT ONLY
SUGGEST THE STRENGTH OF THE EMOTIONS
AND FEELINGS OF THE SPEAKER.”
Now we are on target and have hit the bulls-eye dead center. Here is exactly the wretched emptiness, hollowness, and therefore the sin of it all – God becoming simply an empty, meaningless, emotional expression and a mindless, hollow cliché. It is the very heart of what God was addressing when He commanded in Exodus 20:7,
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in VAIN, for the Lord
will not leave him go unpunished who takes his name
in VAIN.” (See also Deuteronomy 5:11)
It means that we are never to mouth God’s name without the highest reverence, honor, adoration, meaning, and exultation of God in our hearts. If we do, we are using God’s name in a VAIN, that is, in an EMPTY, HOLLOW, WORTHLESS, and God-belittling/cheapening way. Those in the world and even in the church community who glibly mouth “Oh My God” without awed and wondrous praise in their hearts are making the sound of an empty bass drum that in this case is an affront, annoyance, and strong agitation to Heaven.
We are living in an dangerous age in our homes, schools, courts, government, and in many churches where deep spiritual sensitivity and deep-God awareness are being darkened and dulled. In that regard, we are living spiritually and morally in the DULL AGES, if not another DARK AGES. It is the spiritually and morally treacherous age talked about by the Apostle Paul to Timothy in II Timothy 3:2 and 4,
“For men will be lovers of self…..rather than lovers of God.”
This is why the Lord over and over again in His Word tells us not to casually or indifferently or non-adoringly speak His name, but rather to exult and glorify His name! So we read words like we do in Psalm 34:3,
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exult His
And again in Psalm 115:1,
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy name give glory
because of Thy lovingkindness, because of Thy truth.”
Oh that we would be as proud and protective of our Heavenly Father as two little boys were of their earthly fathers. Each insisted that his father was smarter, stronger, bigger, richer, better looking than the other one’s progenitor. In an effort to exult and build up their dads above the other, each finally came to the same conclusion that his dad was the best dad in the whole wide world. Their loyalties were as commendable as their prejudices were deep.
God must never become simply a thoughtless, emotional release, for if and when He does, the G-Word becomes not only as bad as, but infinitely far worse than the S-word or even the F-word. Wham! How does that grab us? Why? Because to cliché the infinite, holy God is to be guilty of the infinite degradation and highest insulting and emptying of that holiest of Names which is above all names.
And it becomes even more degrading when they reduce it to the acronym OMG! Too spiritually bankrupt and lazy to even fully pronounce the entire God-insulting expletive – Oh My God.
Frankly, if we took a consensus in the world, yes, and even in the church world, and ask which of the three words – the S-word, the F-word, or the mindless, heartless G-word is the worse, the answer would resoundingly be the F-word. It is because there is not only a shallow SENSUS DIVINITATUS in the modern, man-centered church, but there is a woeful ignorance of the Bible and its truth. There is an awful dumbing down of the contemporary church, or as someone has stated, it is now CHRISTENDUMB.
However, if you and I truly see this with spiritually informed eyes and hear it with spiritually informed ears, all of us would be knocked down and by this time staggering to get back on our feet for we are all guilty at one time or another of the biggest and worse word, i.e. the heartless and glib G-word which is the essence of the violation of the third commandment of God – taking God’s name in vain.
Yes, even in my preaching I can fall into a cold, doctrinal, theological sermonizing of God’s name. It is worse than any curse word you can think of, though I would rather that you didn’t have to think of any at all. Yet today in this teaching we must, in order to be discipled and guard ourselves against them.
Let us remember this truth always and at all times:
“THOSE WHO DO NOT ALWAYS HONOR GOD’S NAME ABOVE ALL
ALWAYS DISHONOR AND CHEAPEN HIS NAME BENEATH ALL.”
Why? Because if God and His name are not uttered and held in highest wonder and worship, He considers your heart and mouth to have birthed and uttered the lowest degradation of Him possible in all time or eternity.
I recall my precious wife’s father Harry in all of this. Oh do I ever!!! I would very seldom if ever take her out on a date without first being invited in and talking with her father and mother. It was part of the date, like it or not. Harry would never miss the occasion to ask me to be seated in the living room with him for a little fellowship before I could take his daughter from him. When he did, he would always turn the conversation to Christ and to Calvary, and when he then spoke the name of his dear Savior Jesus Christ, soon without fail the tears would begin to fill his eyes and course down his weathered, farmer cheeks in loving wonder and adoration of his God-man Who devoted His sacred Head for such a worm as Harry. Harry not only adored the name of Jesus, but abhorred whatever kind or name of sin that Jesus suffered for on his behalf. He never spoke of his Savior in an empty, sedated, casual tone or expression. Never! Enough said!
THE OCCURRENCE DEFINES GOD
We as children did something to our parents that speaks volumes, and that is chielfly refer to our parents to each other in threatening ways and in negative images. Let me explain. I can remember my older sister pulling this off quite often. If she saw me doing or saying something naughty, the first words out of her mouth were, “I am going to tell Mother, and you are going to be in for it.” And she would do exactly that as she immediately went and tattled on me to Mom.
Then the first words I heard from my Mother were, “You just wait until your Father gets home.” Dad and Mom would on those days under my sister’s squealing on me take on the image of angry executioners as I waited all day long for the ax to fall. The occurrence defined my negative-harsh-parent concepts with my sister lending a willing hand.
By the way, while I am on this, my loving Dad most of the time simply verbally scolded me, but there were those few occasions that he bent me over his knee and spanked me. But as I reflect back, most of his blows were feebly administered by intention and compassion, and for all of the screaming and writhing that I did, I could have just as well done some homework right there under the lash. But at the time, those occurrences defined my father as a black-hooded inquisitor wielding a cat-o’-nine-tails, or at least I acted like he was, which he wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination. He hurt my feelings more than my fanny, and when he was done, he would hold me in his arms and kiss my face again an again.
So it is that adults define God as a damning person and ogre for their children when negative and even painful experiences come their way, and then they angrily blame God and shout “God Damn It” or its equivalents around their children. Nothing can distort God-concepts to impressionable, young minds more than a God-damning parent. My father never once said those words around me and I am sure not around anyone else either.
I do recall however a neighborhood father who was working in the driveway in the presence of myself and his son, when in the engine compartment of his car apparently his wrench slipped and he gouged his knuckles on something sharp-edged and greasy. Simultaneously he shouted “God Damn It” as he withdrew from under the hood and hit his head on the underside as he did so. It went from bad to worse after that.
The point being that the worldling always defines God by extreme circumstances and occurrences in life whether negative or positive. In those extremely positive and exhilarating circumstances and occurrences God is voiced loudly as “Oh My God,” and in the extreme negative circumstances and occurrences He is voiced as “God Damn It.”
If you will, God to the world is at best or at worst simply a momentary, verbal, emotional catharsis to express whatever emotions and feelings they need to vent, or that they need some avenue and relief from. Sin and Satan in their lives makes sure that the positive or negative catharsis includes God and not anyone or anything else – Oh my God or God damn it.
In between all of that vainness, God in the main means absolutely nothing to them whatsoever. So it is that we read in Psalm 10:4 KJV,
“God is not in all his thoughts.”
Meaning that their whole life long they never give God a thought or make Him their meaningful and reverent point of reference, except as a handy laxative in emotionally overwhelming moments. But then, those who ignore and even oppose God all of their lives aren’t given much thought by God either as we read in Psalm 9:5,
“Thou hast rebuked the nations, Thou had destroyed the wicked; Thou
hast blotted out their name forever and ever.”
Frankly, in short, God takes on the same role in the lives of the godless “Oh Goders” and “God Damners” as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny do at Christmas and Easter. Soon after the last “Merry Christmas,” Santa’s Ho-Ho-Hos are silenced, and soon after the last “Happy Easter,” Bunny is non-existent and totally loses his hop. I mean, who gives the Claus and the Bunny another thought except for those brief emotionally supercharged seasons. The rest of the year they are out-of-sight and out-of-mind zeroes.
So too like Claus, God the “Oh My God” God, and God the “God Damn It” God, for the remainder of the lives of the godless, God like Claus is nothing more than a beard and costume in a drawer or closet, and like Bunny, God is nothing more than a has-been egg layer. Except of course in the world’s hot-house environments of either agony or ecstasy, when God is brought out of the closet or drawer with the sudden and very vocal “God Damn It” or “Oh My God!”
Frankly those who take God’s name in vain in overheated expletives are pretty much in the same camp as those who never see the inside of a church and never sing God’s praises without a Christmas tree or Easter lily present. You know them, for they are those on Easter in church to whom you say “Happy Easter,” knowing full well that the next time you see them in church you will say to them, “Merry Christmas.” They too are taking God’s name in vain big time.
While for the world the occurrences or circumstances define God, for the Christian, God defines God and not fair or bad weather. God is their awesome and wonderful God all the time! So we read in Psalm 34:1-3,
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually
be in my mouth.”
“My soul shall makes its boast in the Lord, and the humble shall
hear it and rejoice.”
“O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his Name together.”
In good times, in bad times, in routine times, in rapturous times, in up times, in down times, in joyful times, in sad times, God is worthy of our praise all the time simply because He is God. Not just praising Him when it suits us or when we feel like it or when we think the circumstances warrant it. That too is taking God’s name in vain, for then our lives define God and God does not define our lives. That makes God only an extreme circumstantial God and we are right back to the world’s “Oh My God” and “God Damn It.”
Why can we and must we praise the Lord in positive times and in negative times? Simply because God in perfect love, righteousness, wisdom, and power rules and overrules all of the affairs of nations and of men for His purposes and for His children’s good! It is stated so succinctly in Romans 9:5 where the Apostle Paul under Divine inspiration says about God,
“…Who is over all, God blessed forever, Amen.”