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What is wrong with the phrase "Oh my God!"?
Jacobus Erasmus, 16 July 2018

A few days ago, I went to watch the family cartoon The Incredibles 2. I was shocked to hear the phrases "Oh my God" and "Oh my Lord" used in the film (see the parental guide). I remember how, many years ago, the curse phrases "Oh my God" and "Jesus Christ" were the first curse phrases to be bleeped out on television. This is no longer the case. Indeed, almost every TV show (including family cartoons!) as well as many adults and children in public throw these phrases around as interjections.

So, is it wrong to use these phrases in the way most people do? Should Christians fight against the use of these phrases as a general interjection or curse word? I think so. Such usage of "Oh my God" or "Jesus Christ" is a classic example of using the Lord's name in vain. And it is clearly wrong to use the Lord's name in vain. In fact, one of the ten commandments is to not use the Lord's name in vain. Exodus 20:7 says,

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (ESV)

The Hebrew word used in this passage for "in vain" is shav' and it literally means "vanity", "uselessness" or "emptiness". For example, the same word is used in Psalm 41:6:

And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad.

Here, the word shav' is translated as "empty words". Now, coming back to the commandment in Exodus 20:7. To use "Oh my God" or "Jesus Christ" in vain means to use God's name in an empty or useless sense. It is to use God's name simply as an expression or interjection without any reason or purpose such as praying to God, praising God, or speaking about God.

Therefore, when one uses the phrase "Oh my God" or "Jesus Christ" as an expression, interjection, or curse phrase, one is using God's (i.e. the Creator of all things who deserves our praise) name in vain. Not only is this highly offensive to Christians, it goes against God's wishes. God will "not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain".