The third commandment reads:
shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the
LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."
( Ex 20:7 )
Most Christians take this commandment so lightly that they take God's name in vain often. Sadly they do not realize, as they should, that they are transgressing this commandment.
It is very common among Christians to tell jokes that involve God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Paradise, Heaven, Hell, Saint Peter, and so on. Others do not tell these jokes, but approve of them by listening to them, or even by laughing with those who tell these jokes.
You will never find in the Bible a language like this, because the apostles and former believers really loved God and treated Him with respect, not as an equal one that you may mix in a joke. Those who tell jokes involving people or things that they should consider sacred, defend their behavior alleging that for them God is like a father, and they can get fresh with Him.
Sadly what they say is true in the sense that they treat God as they treat their fathers, but two wrongs don't make a right. The problem is that the concept of father that our culture has instilled in them is a very poor and disrespectful one. In our culture a father is just an old man who happened to marry my mother when she was young and pretty, but now they both are just a couple of old fashioned people. Of course those who have such a concept of their parents, will never have a right concept of God. Hence, their custom of involving God in their jokes.
Many psychologists wrongly advise parents to become friends with their children, in order to make their children feel that they are just their best friends. I have raised nine children, none of them have had problems with the law, nor have any type of vice. We brought them up as the Bible teaches, not as men teach. We instilled in them that they have to push farther; and they did. Even though we were poor, all of them graduated with some career. I always told them that I was not their friend, but far more, I was their father. They could have many friends, but they would only have one father, and especially one mother. Mom was not "another friend", she was the queen of our home, and if a child spoke improperly or yelled at her, he was going to pay for it. I learned these kind of principles for raising children from the Bible, not from psychology books. All my children, thanks God, are converted. They know what means to be a father, and son they respect God as a Father infinitely superior. They never get fresh with God.
It would be a good idea for pastors to teach their congregations how to bring up children in control, respect, and submission to their parents. Many parents do not think that they deserve the kind of respect we are talking about, and therefore have no moral strength to enforce it to their children. This happens because they do not read the Bible or because someone teaches them that psychologists know better. Let's review how God thinks about the issue.
The respect and obedience to parents in Bible times was very strict. It was a command, given with just words the first time …
thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which
the LORD thy God giveth thee." ( Ex 20:12 )
…but if anyone didn't want to obey the words of the third commandment, then there existed other commands:
that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death."
( Ex 21:15 )
one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to
death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him."
( Lev 20: 9 )
a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice
father, or the voice of his mother, ……bring him out unto the elders of his city, and
unto the gate of his place:……And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones,
that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear,
and fear." ( Dt 21: 18-21 abbreviated )
The law was also very strict for those who were disrespectful to God.
thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying: Whosoever
God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall
surely be put to death" (Lev 24: 15-16 abbreviated )
As we see God did not take lightly the blaspheme. Therefore it is easy to get to the conclusion that neither will He take lightly his name in vain, even if it is not a direct blaspheme. The problem is not that people regard God as a Father; the problem is that many of them do not have the right concept of what a father is, and specifically of who God is. This is why they think that they can get fresh with Him.
When I hear a joke that involves sacred people or things, I just tell the person that I don't like those kind of jokes, and if they insist in telling the joke I just turn around and leave. I am not going to become an accomplice of taking God's name in vain. I behave this way even if the joke is about Saint Peter, Paradise, Heaven or the like, which do not constitute a use of God's name in vain. I do so because later their "jokes" will descend to still nastier things or blasphemes. Why to walk along the edge of the cliff, with the risks that it entails? Or why to teach others with our example to walk along the edge of the cliff?
Two wrongs don't make a right. Just because someone never learned proper respect for their parents, doesn't mean we have to justify their disrespect toward God. We must behave according to biblical standards, not according to our culture standards. Telling or listening to jokes that involve God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit is a sin. Listening to jokes that involve Paradise, Hell, Heaven, Apostles, etc., will encourage you to walk by the edge of the cliff of sin.
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