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WCG-THQuestion: Should a Christian use interjections like “Gosh!” or “O my God!” in their speech? What about using “OMG” while text messaging?

Answer: Let it first of all be acknowledged that while interjections are admittedly over-used by many people and while they can also mark a certain laziness in communication, they cannot be judged as inherently unlawful because scripture itself uses interjections.

In the original Hebrew text of scripture, we find words like na’ or hinneh, and in the original Greek text of scripture we find words like idou and phrases such as mh genoito to express intensity of emotion, surprise, or earnestness.

Our English translations have variously rendered these Old Testament interjections as “Lo”, “Ho”, “Behold”, “Look”, “Indeed”, and “Come!” The New Testament interjections have been rendered as “Look”, “Behold”, “God forbid”, “By no means”, and “May it never be!”

This would compel us to conclude that the use of interjections in conversation cannot be judged as inherently inappropriate.

We might even acknowledge the communicative value of such interjections in that they allow a person to express an intense emotion without giving much thought to what exactly they want to say or how exactly they want to say it.

All that having been established, let us now consider your specific question about whether interjections like “O my God!” or acronyms like “OMG” ought to be used.

Such carelessness of speech ought never to be accompanied when pronouncing God’s name because of the third commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

This commandment not only requires a careful, holy, and reverent use of God’s name, but it also forbids the using of God’s name in a light, thoughtless, or vulgar manner.

Because all men have the Law of God written on their hearts (Romans 2:14-15), they know innately that it is wrong to take God’s name in vain.

Unfortunately (and rather than simply repenting), they have attempted to solve the dilemma by altering and abbreviating God’s name or the initials for Jesus Christ so they can continue to take God’s name in vain without “technically” violating the third commandment (or so they think).

Classic examples of this would include, “Gosh, Golly, by Jove, Geez, Gee-wiz, Jiminy Cricket, Jiminy Christmas, Jumpin’ Catfish, Jeepers Creepers, etc.”  A more modern example of this would be the oft-texted acronym “OMG”.

These clever casuists have also managed to de-sanctify the attributes and works of God in a similar manner, adopting sayings like, “Holy Cow”, “Heavens!”, “Goodness”, etc.

While the third commandment is broken daily in homes, offices, and even churches (!), the misuse of God’s name is no light matter.  The third commandment has a solemn threat attached to it: “For the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Even Jesus issued a similar threat to all those who might seek to excuse their sins of speech with the popular excuse, “God knows my heart… I don’t have to be that careful about outward behaviors…”

He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37).

May God help us to honor his holy name as we ought.