By R.J. Evans
One of the most common vices practiced by just about every class and rank of people in our society today is the use of profanity. It is tremendously difficult for a Christian to feel comfortable in a situation where God’s name is used profanely. The Word of God teaches that God’s name is holy. “Holy and reverend is His name” (Psa. 111:9). I fear that even many today who are God’s people are guilty of profaning the name of the God of Heaven. They may be doing so without ever realizing it, as we shall observe later on in this article. To profane the name of God is a serious matter. The term “profane” is defined by Webster as follows: “to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt: desecrate, violate; 2: to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use.” Throughout the ages God has always demanded that his name be respected and honored. During the Mosaical period the Israelites were told: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,- for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain ” (Ex. 20.-7). “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shall thou profane the name of thy God, I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:12). A few examples taken from the New Testament concerning this matter are as follows: “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shaft be condemned” (Matt. 12.36-37). “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (Jas. 3:10).
Have you ever wondered why people curse, swear and talk in a filthy manner? Several years ago in an article entitled, “Why Do You Talk Like That?”, brother William E. Wallace offered five reasons why. They were listed as follows:
1. Those who find it difficult to express themselves will seek to flavor their language with profane and ugly expressions.
2. Some seek to gain attention, at least temporarily, so they curse, swear and utter obscenities.
3. Cursing, swearing and vulgarity are merely bad habits to some, well set in their lives by years of usage. Often they hardly realize what they are saying.
4. Many are depraved in nature, filthy in mind, evil in attitude and express it all in wicked language.
5. Some feel they must use bad language to be accepted and to “fit in” with their companions and friends.
It should cause deep concern when we hear Christians using the Lord’s name in a vain manner in their normal conversations. I have in mind such expressions as “My Lord!,” “Lordy!” “Oh Lord!,” “My God!,” “Jesus Christ!,” etc. And while some would not dare use those expressions, they will substitute euphemisms (mild forms of profanity – substitution of expressions for ones that may offend or suggest something unpleasant) such as Gee, Gosh, Golly, Good Gracious, Goodness Sake, Darn, Dickens, etc. It is interesting to note the words from which the aforementioned terms are derived (according to Funk & Wagnalls and Webster):
Gee – euphemism for Jesus; a minced oath.
Gosh – a minced oath; alternate of God.
Golly – euphemistic substitute for God.
Confound – to damn; used as a mild oath.
Heck – euphemistic of hell.
Darn – euphemism for damn.
Dickens – the devil; a euphemistic expletive.
Goodness – God; goodness knows.
Doggone – a mild oath; to damn; a euphemism; alternate of God damn, or dog on it.
Good Gracious and Goodness Sake – such expressions originally referred to the goodness of God.
It may appear that I am trying to get too technical or “picky” by mentioning the above expressions. However, as Christians we have the responsibility of keeping our speech pure and above reproach. We must guard against using the Lord’s name in a derogatory manner, or possibly shading it with expressions or connotations which tend to lower it from the level of reverence it so rightfully deserves. We are reminded once again, “Holy and reverend is His name.”
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 12, p. 359
June 16, 1988