Jul 13, 2005
When I was a child, I would occasionally bring home a new word or phrase I’d picked up at school. If I learned the word in class, that was usually a good thing, and I would proudly try it out over the dinner table.
But if it was a word I learned on the playground (or the boy’s room), I knew better than to test it in front of my mother or father (Dad used Lava soap, but Mom preferred Ivory… neither tastes very good). But accidents happen, and cleanliness’ immediate following of Godliness is something I have practical knowledge of.
I recall once saying “God damn it!” while playing either Monopoly, Risk, or Mille Borne (our three family games). It was "Ivory Time", as I was hauled down the hall to the lavatory. Mother explained to me that I had broken one of God’s Ten Commandments, and had taken his name in vain. I’ve been pretty careful about that ever since, although I have often wondered just what that Commandment meant.
The Hebrews were very careful to not use the name of God. They usually used a term like “Lord”, or the letters YWYH as a stand-in for the Holy Name. So “God” isn’t his name (anymore than “Christ” is Jesus’ middle name). So I’ve long thought that while I may have deserved my “tongue lathering”, I wasn’t breaking the 3rd Commandment.
So just what is “taking the Lord’s name in vain”? In large part, it was a prohibition against making claims for God that were untrue. This verse meant that one is not to use the name of God for “any frivolous or malicious purpose or in magic.” Which brings me to the point of this post; the activities of the “Religious Right”, a.k.a. the Pharisees (for those who worry that the Left -- the Sadducees -- will get off easy, don't fret yourself as I'll be addressing them as well).
When we KNOWINGLY use God’s name for material or political gain, we are violating the Third Commandment (remember, the Ten Commandments aren’t graded like a school test… miss three and you can still pass… no, here an inch is as good as a mile when it comes to missing one). In the Book of Acts, when Herod allows the citizens of Tyre to praise him "like a god, not a mortal", Herod is consumed by worms. In 1 Samuel, when Saul assumes the authority that God has given to others, the kingdom is taken from him. Even Moses suffers from failing to give God the glory when he strikes a rock for water, allowing people to think that he (Moses) brought forth the water. To play God, or to assume God's authority, always leads to destruction.
Hence my horror at the GOP and the religious Right's appropriation of not only the mind of God, but also His mantle. Of course, it's always a Graceless God, a God of LAW (the only time God's Grace is appreciated is on a ME level... Chuck Colson will talk about how God saved and forgave HIM, Dubya will talk about HIS accepting God and being forgiven for HIS sins, even while laughing at another Christian who pleads for mercy on her way to the executioner's gurney. "Salvation by Grace is for ME, but YOU have to earn it through the LAW" they seem to be saying. The Mormons must see the Religious Right as their next, great conversion field. Of course, their personal Grace reception excuses them from whatever sins they continue to commit... but not yours.
Am I being harsh? Some say so, but this issue is the Crux of the Gospel. The True Gospel ("Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near!" Mark 1:15) is made inaccessible to those who need it... even to those who yearn for it. This is the great sin, this is taking the Lord's Name in vain. Almost every right-wing "Christian" organization will espouse "tax cuts" as one of their goals. "Prayer in school, end abortions, cut my taxes, punish homosexuals." The only thing I can find in either the Old or New Testaments about taxes is our being told to pay them, and tax agents being told to not cheat. The only financial burdens I see being called to be lifted are those on the poor, not the rich. ANd make no mistake, by the World's standards (and by God's standards) the vast majority of White American Christians are rich.
"Viper's brood", Jesus called them. Worm food.
But the Left? The United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Church of Canada have all claimed to be guided by the "Holy Spirit" in making their decisions to normalize and sacramentalize sodomy, that somehow it is the "Holy Spirit" that approves of men inserting their penises into other men's rectums (in the name of love). Guided by a spirit, no doubt, but certainly not the Third Person of the Trinity. And so the Left not only takes the Lord's Name in vain, they also commit the sin that cannot be forgiven (in Jesus' own words), by blaspheming the Holy Spirit. And what of the men and women trapped in homosexual sin? They are now told it's not only OK, it's God's plan for them.
Those who think they are homosexual are denied the chance to be forgiven and healed by the very vessels they would turn to for comfort and healing... imagine an alcoholic showing up at an AA meeting only to find an open bar, and their sponsor telling them to "Drink up!". That's what the liberal churches have done.
"Viper's brood", Jesus called them. Worm food.