"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Exodus 20:7 (KJV)

 I've been thinking more recently about what this means.  I grew up thinking that it pretty much just meant don't use "God" or "Jesus" as swear words.  But surely to be one of the Ten, God meant it to mean something much deeper than that.

First I ask, what does "taking the name of the LORD" mean?  Well, God himself makes our relationship with him analogous to the marriage relationship.  So this is where my thinking is going.

When I married Jon, I took his name.  Now, everything I do affects how people think of the name "Daley."  Not only that in general, but how they think of my husband in particular.
  Who I am and how I act is part of what makes our family.

So, one sense of taking the family name in vain is to ignore all these repercussions and act in a selfish way, not caring how it affects my husband and family.

This helps me extend the idea to being in God's family.  When I became a Christian, I took the name of Christ - on the one hand, as an adopted child, taking His name as an heir, and additionally, as part of the bride of Christ, taking His name in marriage.  So I must consider my actions and attitudes in addition to my words (and the way I say them!) as reflecting on His name.

How many thousands (millions?) of people in our country have been and are turned away from following Christ because those who take His name do so in vain!

May my life be a reflection of Christ.  May I call Him Lord in my actions as well as my words.  Oh, God, let me not take Your name in vain - may my life be lived such that those who see me want to become part of the family, too!

Posted by Heather Daley on July 16, 2007, 8:53 am | Read 5645 times
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That's beautiful!

Posted by IrishOboe on July 16, 2007, 9:14 am

Yes, and I get the same shiver as Heather mentioned before.

Posted by jondaley on July 16, 2007, 12:35 pm

Wow. Thanks.

Posted by MichaelQ on July 16, 2007, 2:23 pm

I like the application and the truth in it, but I can't quite get past the step of taking a modal verb and halving it to get to the application. Nevertheless, thanks for the thought - and for commenting, which brought me here.

Posted by Stephan on July 19, 2007, 9:53 am

Stephan - I don't understand what you mean. Is it grammatically wrong to take a "shall not" and turn the sentence around so you get a "shall"? It makes sense to me to search for how we should take His name if "in vain" is how we shouldn't. But maybe that's because I didn't even know there was a name for that category of verbs before I read your comment. (:

Posted by joyful on July 19, 2007, 2:58 pm

It's that in English there are these verbs that change their meaning with what's added to them. "To take" is a great example - take in, take on, take up, take over all mean something else. So I think that "to take in vain" in the original is probably not a "to take" verb, but a different altogether (I'd have to check and I can't right now) - and thus, separating "to take" from the "in vain" modifier would be exegetically unjustified.

To make an example, let's consider the following sentence: "When making decisions, do not take evil men into account." I would not separate "to take" from "into account" here, because the meaning changes. What would it mean to "take evil men?" is the analogy to the question you follow up, and in this example it's a little more obvious that we're barking up the wrong tree.

I hope that helps clarify my reservations, and remember, I still like the application.

Posted by Stephan on July 19, 2007, 5:48 pm

I forgot extra quotation marks:

'What would it mean to "take evil men?"'

Posted by Stephan on July 19, 2007, 5:49 pm

Ah, yes, now that makes sense. I am interested in your findings on "to take in vain" (when you get the chance,) since thinking about that brought me to these musings in the first place.

Posted by joyful on July 19, 2007, 8:03 pm

It'll take (lots of) time - I'm still mulling over a theology of children and what that means for churches. (That, too, will take considerable time.)

Posted by Stephan on July 21, 2007, 4:27 am

theology of children?...I'm so lost here.

Posted by Jimmy on August 2, 2007, 8:46 pm

Jimmy, I believe Stephan is referring to a post Janet made a while ago about children in church.

Posted by joyful on August 6, 2007, 9:39 am

yes that makes sense now, thanks for the clarification.

Posted by Jimmy on August 8, 2007, 6:35 pm

she's right, and i'm no farther...

Posted by Stephan on August 14, 2007, 12:57 pm

I was prodded in prayer early this morning about this very commandment. Having felt like you that there had to be more than just slightly changing our profanity. I also had the "adopted sons and daughters" and "bride of Christ" come to mind. Having just completed the Left Behind series it also occurred to me that the Trib Force cautioned people about saying the prayer only to save their skin. It seemed to me many professing Christians are taking that name in vain - for social or business reasons. I went looking for a dictionary definition of "To take in vain" and ound your site. Thank you.

Posted by Jim on February 24, 2008, 6:35 am
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