Heidelbasics: Brief Weekly Reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism by Rev. Chuck Meuther
99. What is required in the third commandment?
That we must not by cursing, or by false swearing, nor yet by unnecessary oaths, profane or abuse the name of God; nor even by our silence and connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and in summary, that we use the holy name of God in no other way than with fear and reverence, so that He may be rightly confessed and worshiped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.
100. Is the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so grievous a sin that His wrath is kindled against those also who do not help as much as they can to hinder and forbid it?
Yes, truly, for no sin is greater and more provoking to God than the profaning of His name; wherefore He even commanded it to be punished with death.
Man tends to romanticize a bygone generation and place societal ills on the present one. Baby boomers have negative thoughts about the X gen, and the latter about the millennials. The silent generation (or sometimes called traditionalists) came before the baby boomers, and while they are literally a dying breed, these survivors of two world wars have often punctuated something to the effect: “A pox on all subsequent generations!” because gone are the so-called
However, what has really tied all generations together is the lack of reverence toward the sovereignty of God. In the recent aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, citizens of all ages were interviewed and observed the devastation with the ubiquitous OMG. The irony ought to be obvious, but is lost on far too many. Here, in stricken Houston, man sees the awesome power of God and responds by flippantly putting God’s name in vain.
Of course, Christians who might very well have OMG or “gosh,” or some other derivation in their vocabulary are quick to point out that their intentions are never to offend God. “It’s just a phrase.”
When I was a middle school teacher, one of my students tripped over a leg of a desk and responded with a quick, “God d– it.” I said to this young man that I am incredibly impressed. He replied, “Why, because I almost tripped?” I said, “No, but you must have incredible authority to call down the power of God to send this desk to hell.” He gave me a puzzled What are you talking about look.
The truth is that whatever the generation, folks, even in the church, do not respect God with their speech. It would appear since gone are the days when the earth opened up and swallowed up men because of their indignation toward God, and now we live in a dispensation of abounding grace, that now our language need not preserve the reputation of another, let alone magnify a holy God.
The catechism puts it directly: “…no sin is greater and more provoking to God than the profaning of His name.” Or as James better describes, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (3:6).