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

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. Taking the Lord’s name in vain is a big deal. 

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.