Back to Podcasts
How to Listen: Subscribe (it’s free!) in your favorite podcast app.
Jan 16, 2020

Why Is Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain Wrong?

Fr. Mike Schmitz

Taking the Lord’s name in vain is a big deal.  There’s a reason why “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain” is not only one of the ten commandments, but is second on the list.

Yet so many of us do it anyway all of the time. It has almost become part of our everyday vocabulary. We may say we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, we just say it without meaning it sometimes. But saying it without meaning it is in fact taking the Lord’s name in vain. 

Saying “O my God” or “Jesus Christ” in vain, meaning saying it unintentionally or in anger, is a mortal sin.

The Lord gave us his name out of love and trust. Let’s not abuse it, but hold it in our hearts and call upon his name when we need him.

In prayer, his name has the power to cast out demons and scare away evil. Remember that power, especially when tempted to use his name in vain.

The minced oaths and funny sayings of yesteryear that you may have heard your grandpa say may make a little more sense when considering the gravity of breaking the second commandment. Why not bring back that “speak no evil” mindset, and say “Jiminy Cricket” or “God bless America and all the ships at sea” instead? If we’re not going to turn a slip of the tongue into a prayer, we can at least make our words into a jovial character of some kind.


Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz

Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

He is a presenter in Ascension’s ChosenAltaration, and The 99 programs, and has a channel on Ascension Presents.

Has Ascension's free media strengthened your faith?
You can now offer ongoing support for this content with a recurring gift.
Support Ascension

Get your favorite Ascension content sent right to your email!

  • Obviously, this applies to those who follow the 10 Commandments and fellow Christians, but should we do something or speak up when a non-Christian is taking the Lord’s name in vain? Does admonishing the sinner only apply to fellow Christians? I want to help rid secular culture and the whole world of sin so that offending the Lord God’s name is no longer commonplace, especially not in the media. How do I do it with non-Christians?

    • I have ask a friend at work
      I wish she wouldn’t say gd and she got very upset
      Said that way she is and if I didn’t like it tough s
      I’m confused she goes to church
      But let her grow children bring there girl or boy friend home and they slept together

      • Just because someone goes to church it doesn’t mean they are a follower of Christ or ever experienced true conversion. It may be only tradition but at least she is going. At any rate, God alone judges the heart. Start praying for her and be a good friend. Love her unconditionally and then you may open the door for good communication and ultimately help to save her soul and her children as well.

    • as a someone who does not perform christianity anymore, i would say that i’d leave non-christians to speak however they’d like to, especially if you live somewhere in north america. in the religion standard in the usa, people of all religions say “oh my god” as a common phrase, and it is no use to correct someone who isn’t the same religion.

      as a side note, they way that i used to perceive this commandment makes the implications different. instead of verbal tics or phrases being unholy, i saw it this way: “do not spread unholy misinformation in the name of god. do not spread inequality, distrust, and hate on others and justifying it in the lord’s name”. for example, it would be a sin to say, “all green-eyed people are inferior, and god shall not invite you into the gates of heaven if you have green eyes”, or to say, “use electroshock therapy on those who don’t convert to christianity, because jesus wishes for all of us to be christian.” those would be mortal sins. but people like me, who have verbal tourette’s tics, can say phrases like “oh my god” as a stimulation tic. that doesn’t make us unholy, it is just the fact the it’s a common tic that our brain uses. in my opinion, i find it much safer than physical tics, like clawing the air or jittering.

      • Hello, Gods grace and mercy are deeper and broader than we can imagine. If you are a Christian who loves God and struggle with tourette’s then God knows your heart. I’m praying there are graces and miracles. The point being made here is for Christ followers; those committed to living a holy life. God’s name is holy and should be used in reverence and respect. No one expects non believers to live by Scriptural standards, therefore what they say and do is a reflection of what they believe. I may not like hearing others use the Lords name in vain but I can pray for them. On the other hand, I can however turn off a program/ movie where actors are using the Lords name in vain because that’s under my control. Lastly, if we as Christian’s are not loving others and treating them with respect and value than we miss the whole of who God, which is Love.

    • When I was working it was amazing because it didn’t take long for others to start apologizing around me when they cursed. People notice when you don’t. I never said a word or admonished anyone. I was my authentic self; a Christian who loves God and people. I showed them respect and prayed for them and as God gave me opportunity I shared my faith.

  • So using the Lord’s name in vain out of frustration impulsively, then immediately regretting it and saying “I don’t know why I said that”…is that still a mortal sin?

  • I totally agree! What about shortened version like Oh My Gosh, Geez, etc? Also should we continue watching a movie or TV show when characters are using the Lords name in vain?

  • >