Sunday, March 3, 2019
Do not take the Lord's Name in vain
I have been chewing on the third commandment for a few days.
It seems out-of-place in the Big Ten. Don't have false gods; check. Keep Lord's day holy; check. But why would not using the Lord's name in vain rate with those two?
One part of the puzzle is that we don't know God's name. When we say "God" we are using a title, not a name. When asked, he gives us a riddle, "I AM who AM."
Even if we KNEW God's name would our vocal cords be able to say (whales, for instance use frequencies we cannot attain) it or would we live long enough to fully utter it. Surely an infinite God is unlikely to have a simple name like "Sam", although I could be wrong.
Nope, I was missing something.
The something I was missing was my mindless substitution of the word "use" for the word "take".
What if the word "take" was in the sense of a bride taking the groom's name? What if "name" is code for becoming part of a family with expectations of a deep reciprocity of duties, responsibilities and privileges?
"Vain" becomes like the use of "Vanity" in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3. Vain means to act for naught, much like the sowing of grain that falls on thin soil or among weeds.
Seen through that lens, "Do not take the Lord's Name in vain" morphs from a prohibition on letting OMG or GD fall out of our mouths to something that matches the magnitude of the first two commandments.
"Do not take the Lord's Name in vain" might be a prohibition against casually discarding the wisdom God has seen fit to give us via the Bible. It might mean to not identify as a member of the Judeo-Christian family if we have little intention to honor the reciprocal relationship and care for our other family members.
Anyway, that is what I have been chewing on the last few days.