Like most teenagers, I heard plenty of slang in school—some terms were playfully innocuous, some vulgar. I often observed how a word or phrase was used and tried to avoid the inappropriate ones. One day, while having a conversation with my dad, I threw in a seemingly harmless word. I had heard this phrase used by Christian adults, so I figured it was probably safe. My dad arched an eyebrow and asked me to repeat what I said.
With some hesitation, I repeated myself.
He looked carefully at me and asked, “Do you know what [vulgar term] means?”
I thought I knew…
Once my dad explained what it actually meant, I was mortified. It had a rather nasty sexual connotation and yet Christians and non-Christians said it as though it were no big deal. I stopped using it immediately, wondering if my peers had any clue what they were saying. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. I was never brave enough to ask.
Fast forward to the present, where people type more than speak and abbreviations replace actual words. There are some innocent abbreviations—LOL (laugh out loud), ROFL (Rolling On the Floor laughing), TTFN (Ta Ta For Now)—but several three and four-letter combinations include profanities you may not want to use.
I will spare you the list.
I’m not sure how everyone reads abbreviations, but when I see a three or four-letter cluster, I immediately think words instead of letters. I cringe when I see abbreviated profanities, because the cuss words immediately pop into my head. With all the cursing and swearing that goes on, I don’t need extra exposure.
What about “OMG?”
When I see a Christian use “OMG,” I often wonder if they realize how someone else interprets it. To ensure I wasn’t missing some alternate meaning, I looked it up. According to Professor Google, Doctor Wikipedia, and The Urban Dictionary, the spelled out phrase is “Oh my God.” (Please forgive me for having to spell it out). Now, most sources say the “G” could be used to mean “goodness” or “gosh,” but the origin always points back to “Oh My God.”
In my anecdote, my dad recognized that I was pretty clueless about the connotation of that vulgarity, and didn’t fly off the handle. He gently corrected me and I am thankful he did! In that same spirit, I believe many Christians may think they are saying “oh my goodness,” or “oh my gosh.” That being said, most people use “G” for “God.” In light of how it’s perceived, we should avoid using it.
The Bible makes it clear that God is holy and expects to be treated as holy. Those who want to have a relationship with Him will respect Him. Furthermore, God’s nature is unchanging. He doesn’t expect to be honored as holy by one generation and treated like “one of the guys” in the next. God is Lord of heaven and earth, our Creator, our King, the Omnipotent, the Merciful and the Just. He is also our Father and our close friend, but he isn’t a friend in the same way my pal from college is a friend. It’s a special relationship and should be treated as such.
Whether we say it, or type it, we need to watch what we say! Our words get us into plenty of trouble.
Imagine that your name was used as an expletive. How would that make you feel? Would you feel honored? Loved? Respected? Appreciated? Or would you feel tarnished? Used? Blackened? Undervalued?
Imagine how God feels when someone who professes to love Him uses His name as an exclamation point.
In light of how many read this term, it really should vanish from all our texts/posts/shares/emails altogether. This is not a call to legalism, but to love. We don’t want to damage our relationship with God—it’s far too precious! If we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, we will treat Him the way He wants to be treated—with reverent love.