O My God! O My God! I was sharing a very shocking story to my roommate Vero. I was invested in my delivery of it and got annoyingly interrupted by a friend of mine who heard my exclamations. “Karen, you are taking the Lord’s name in vain!”. Huh? I first thought it was so random of her to ask me that question in the middle of my story. At that moment, I was given a challenge and I was going to get to the bottom of it.

Was I taking the Lord’s name in vain?

Culturally, this exclamation is accepted all over the world. People have gotten creative to avoid saying it using O Mylanta! , O my Gosh! , O Gee!, Geez! or OMG! and the list goes on depending on the language and how creative they are at the moment. It is so ingrained in our speech that you do not have to be Christian to say it. It has become part of the daily urban vocabulary.

Who is to blame? This expression brings comfort, it is often thought of as a “mini prayer”, it just feels good to include God in our stories and call Him to be part of a certain moment.

Is it a sin?

Who do I ask? We do not hear pastors preaching about this too often, if at all (at least not in my experience).

In my research, I found different opinions. A priest says that it is mortal sin. God’s name should not be taken in vain, we shall bow to His name. A mortal sin is a big deal! Saying “O my God” in vain, meaning saying it unintentionally or in anger, is a mortal sin. – Fr. Mike Smichtz

 I kept looking for more sources and found it comforting to know that the context in which we use the expression makes a difference. The source said “…while morally problematic to thoughtlessly use the name of God, does not arise to a level of serious sin. The use of “O my gosh” or “goodness” does not reference God and therefore would not be considered to be sinful.” – Catholic Answers.

So now, I feel convicted, because it indeed breaks the second commandment:

 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”.

I found the Catechism of the Catholic Church helpful when talking about the Holiness of God’s name…

”He must keep it in mind in silent, loving adoration. He will not introduce it into his speech except to bless, praise, and glorify it.”

CCC 2143

Break the habit

I am in shock! and filled with gratitude for my roommate’s courage to call me out. This is an opportunity to grow in virtue and change my own culture.

My immediate game plan to break this habit is to ask for accountability from my closest friends. I also encourage continued research and prayer if need be. I do not want to offend my Lord, especially knowing that I should not do it.

If breaking the habit means using variations of the exclamation, you can say “O my goodness”, “Geez”, “OMG”, “O Mylanta”, “Gosh” etc. Ask God for His help to stop taking His honorable name in vain.

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