“Dear brother Clem: What does the Bible say about profaning the Lord’s name? What of the habit of some people exclaiming, ‘Lord, have mercy,’ or just saying, ‘Good Lord’? – T.H., GA”
Let us see some commands regarding this: “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, and profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah” (Leviticus 19:12). “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God” (Leviticus 21:6). “And that they profane not my holy name: I am Jehovah” (Leviticus 22:2). “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. And exercise thyself unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). “But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16).
The verb, “profane,” means “to make common or unholy, to desecrate, to pollute.” To profane the name of the Lord, then, is to use His name in a way that is common or degrading or unholy. And surely, not just proper names such as Jesus or Jehovah is meant. To profane “Christ” or “God” or “the Lord” would be just as bad.
The use of the Lord’s name in “by-words” or in slang expressions is profaning His name. The use of the Lord’s name in a casual or flippant way also profanes His name. And to casually say, “Lord, have mercy” is profaning His name, unless we really mean it. The Lord is good, but to make a thoughtless habit of saying, “Good Lord,” would be profane. When we use the name of the Lord, it should be with reverence and sincerity.
It’s very easy to fall into the habit of using te Lord’s name (or the equivalent thereof) in a thoughtless way that profanes it. For instance, a friend of mine once preached a sermon on the use of “by-words.” He pointed out that “golly” was derivative of “God Almighty,” that “gee” was derived from “Jesus” and so forth. Then, thinking of another point, he said, “Oh, by the way…” I later asked him if he had read John 14:6, where Jesus said, “I am the way“? I never got an answer. It is difficult to be consistent in all things. But we should try. And the habit of such slang expressions should be broken. All of us would be better for it. – Clem Thurman
(Made me think of the commonly heard phrase O.M.G. and other not mentioned words – EA)
Excerpted from Volume 61, Number 39 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Editor, David Thurman, Associate Editor.