Recently my very hip (-cough-) husband pulled out a verbal hashtag, boldly announcing “#FroYo!” Greeted with some looks of confusion he retreated a little until we all realised what he was going for #YOLO. Much laughter ensued (I’d love to say we laughed with Owen… but at may be more apt.)
It’s funny the things that sneak into our vernacular (lingo), isn’t it? We tend to absorb language from those around us and insert it into our dialogue, even if we’re not exactly sure of its significance. The recent trend of “OMG!”* disturbs me. I see it creeping into advertising, conversations, Facebook feeds, text messages and emails; even among our Christian brothers and sisters.
Why does this trend disturb me so? Here’s a couple of reasons…
- OMG does NOT stand for Oh My Goodness. It is a contraction of Oh My God. Even if you mean it as the first, people will read it as the second. And whilst I’m a massive culprit of using “Oh my gosh”, this is really just a way we’ve tried to redirect ourselves from saying “Oh my God”. Why is saying “Oh my God” so bad I hear you ask?? Well…
- In the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7 and again in Deut 5:7) it says “you shall not misuse the name of the Lord (Yahweh) your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (NIV) This is pretty stern stuff! Misusing the name of the Lord might take several forms- using it as part of an oath (Matt 5:33-37), using God’s name as a descriptor of your identity (ie I’m a Christian) but living in a manner that desecrates it, or (as with the OMG trend) referring to God in a way which strips him of His significance.
What God is revealing about himself in this command is that he takes his name really seriously, because his name points to who he is. To make light of it, or to misuse it it to disregard or belittle the one who stands behind it.
- Think about the words you say when you’re angry…
… got one?
Right, it’s confession time. When I’m slightly frustrated I might say “bum”. Mildly frustrated and I use the very-adult phrase “poo-wee-bum” (yes, I know… it’s not particularly pleasant…) Quite frustrated or even angry I bust out a “crap!” Now, my words of frustration all follow a particular theme, but most people’s do! And most of them aren’t very nice! For each of these situations, I have heard people use a variation of God or Jesus’ name- the very situation I am using a term relating to excrement!
Is this the right way to refer to God? Nu-uh. This is clearly a misuse, bringing him down to the level of poo…
- Here is how we should think of God’s name:
- As holy, majestic, glorious and awesome (Deut 28:58, Ps 8:1, Ps 105:3, )
- As trying to describe a being so indescribable God uses the name “I Am who I Am” for himself (Exodus 3:14)
- Full of power, invoking fear (Ps 102:15), conquering evil (Luke 10:17)
- A name which saves (Ps 116:17, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13) and protects (Ps20:1)
- A name which will endure for all time (Ps 135:13)
- As something which denotes his character and to which He himself is loyal. (Think of all the “for His name’s sake” phrases you’ve heard from the Bible- Psalm 23 might be the first which springs to mind. God’s actions are directed by His name- there is an integrity here like nothing else we know)
- And because we know THIS God, we should live lives that look different to the world around us (Colossians 3), no longer satisfying our sinful desires (craving popularity, status and belonging), but willing to look different in speech and life in order to honour Him and draw others toward Him (1 Peter 2:12). This may mean dropping popular phrases like OMG and encouraging our brothers and sisters to do the same.
Our God is a BIG God, and the way we refer to him is seriously significant. Just because something is popular (“OMG”) doesn’t mean it’s right (and just because something is right, doesn’t mean it is popular).
Has “OMG” landed in your vernacular?
*(OMG can be used in spoken or written language and was initially developed as part of “text-speak”)
[Adam Ford has just had a go at this issue too… check out his comic – Kester]