Profanities, vulgarities, and using God’s name in vain

Postmodern culture continues to send mixed signals on the use of cussing and vulgarity, as it does on most issues. The topic continues to be popular as evidenced by a good number of news stories that have popped up this week over foul language. One such story came from the family of NBC Universal where CNBC did a tongue-in-cheek story about the latest Kraft Mac & Cheese ad campaign featuring a foul-mouthed mother for Mother’s Day who uses substitute swear words in front of her kids. The Kraft Heinz ad has now gone viral as people commend it for its tribute to moms who curse in the presence of kids.

Ironically, throughout 2016 the NBC News family lambasted Donald Trump during the campaign for his cursing. I’ll be first to admit that although I voted for Trump, I hate his use of foul language and would never condone it. It was and is in bad taste, just as the Kraft Mac & Cheese ad is in bad taste.swearing at siri

Then there was the uproar over late-night host Stephen Colbert’s vulgar Donald Trump joke. It set off speculation about an FCC fine and a hashtag campaign to fire him. Personally, I can understand why people are upset since it offended me as well, but calling for Colbert to be fired over it is a stretch to me. Fining him or a suspension is reasonable.

Finally, I ran across a story out of the UK where a mom from South Africa shopping at a discount store in England was highly offended over that store’s “OMG!” campaign. The mother, Lizette Franklin, is a Christian who was taken aback when she walked into Poundland, one of her favorite stores, and saw “OMG!” stickers and signs plastered everywhere she looked. Mrs. Franklin stated, “It was as if the name of the Lord has been made fun of and disrespected all over the store. It is as if the name of the Lord was being used in vain to promote prices and this is revolting to say the least.”

The store in response said “OMG!” stood for “Oh my goodness!” and went on to say “OMG!” is an acronym meaning different things to different people. Poundland’s focus for the ad campaign was to highlight their ridiculously low prices, said the spokesperson. Mrs. Franklin pointed out that most people take the meaning as the most popular one–the one that uses God’s name in vain. She believes if they really meant “Oh my goodness” it should have been spelled out somewhere. So she is boycotting the store for now.

Conflicting views over obscene, profane, and foul language are ultimately why I believe Christians should rely on what God (and those inspired by his Holy Spirit) said in the Bible. I discussed at length years ago how believers should view vulgarities, listing scriptures that deal with it. I think one of the really good passages on it is James 3, where he points out the hypocrisy of blessing God with the same mouth that one curses people with. That principle can also be applied to using God’s name in vain as a curse word, a violation of the third commandment in Exodus 20. I believe the Lord made clear that such language is conduct unbecoming of soldiers in the Lord’s army, despite the fact we have deemed it acceptable for us when we are not at church gatherings.

Source links in order of appearance:



NBC News


The Verge

Fox News

The Courier–UK

2 thoughts on “Profanities, vulgarities, and using God’s name in vain

Add yours

  1. This is a great post, Harry. It’s not our role to police society, but we should stand for what is acceptable according to Scripture. We should also continue to seek the Lord’s guidance and strength. This is one of my favorite (and most used) prayers: “Lord, keep you arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.” Thanks for posting (and for stopping by recently!).


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