Why Is “Jesus Christ” Used as “Blasphemous Profanity”?

This is an honest and respectful question by a man who isn’t a Christian.  I decided it would be useful for my readers to have Biblical answers to his questions.

Warning / Disclaimer

Gordo Laidlaw uses language to which I wouldn’t normally link, and uses “words rhyming with” to hint at language I’d rather not have in my mind (or yours).  His is a “PG” blog and mine is U (Universal) or U-c (suitable for young children). So if you click through, it’s not the usual fare to which I link.  I’ll quote enough to give the sense of what he is saying, but here is the link:  Jesus Christ as Blasphemous Profanity

That said, Gordo seems a decent, thoughtful man asking honest questions who means well by it.  I am sure Gordo and I would find a lot to discuss if we ever got together.

From his closing paragraph:

The more I think about it the more it doesn’t make sense. All considerations about my personal beliefs and faith aside… using “Jesus Christ” as an expletive just doesn’t make sense so I’m going to try and not use it as such anymore.

Why Don’t Christians Care?

This isn’t the first or biggest question Gordo asks, but I’ll start with it.

And why are so many Christians seemingly okay with the name of Jesus Christ their savior being used as a casual profanity? Honestly, it seems like some Christians get more upset if someone takes a poke at the Catholic Pope than they do about the name of Christ being blasphemed in a curse. Not for nothing but followers of Islam get right upset if someone denigrates the name of Allah or his last prophet Muhammad. People have been killed for profaning the prophet of Islam. Seriously. I’m not suggesting Christians should start condemning to death everyone who usurps the name of Christ the Savior for their own use as a curse. I just find it odd that so many seem okay with it.

A lot of Christians do care.  Some time ago, I wrote “OMG” — and Other Ways Christians Take God’s Name in Vain.  That has had almost three times as much traffic as anything else I’ve written.  A lot of people Google “taking God’s name in vain” and find that post, and it keeps getting new shares on Facebook all the time.  Christians are not only looking, they pass it on when they find it.  It does matter to them.  (It was because of that post that a friend pointed out Gordo’s article to me.)

Christians are pretty troubled by this kind of thing, if they are really serious about faith and the Bible.  Maybe it doesn’t bother some Christians (or people who claim the title), but if a Christian is serious, before long it will grab his attention.  Even “OMG” bothers a lot of us. It is an empty, worthless reference to our God, and Christians shouldn’t do that.

But we may not say anything about it, and we certainly won’t start killing people.  We don’t expect non-Christians to be like Christians.  Even if someone deliberately offends us, Jesus said we are to love our enemies, so it would be crazy to rage against someone for misusing His name — we honour His name by loving them.  That doesn’t mean we don’t mind.  Maybe the Christians who don’t seem to mind are too casual and really don’t care, but maybe they are just being patient and loving, living the way God wants them to live.  There really is a difference between our faith and Islam, after all.

Non-Christians should be respectful.  Some may call me judgmental, but so be it.  It won’t make society worse if people respect others and everyone shows respect for belief in God.  Our God is very patient and merciful towards those who show Him respect.  God doesn’t need us to defend Him, but we do care about those around us.  We want them to have His patience and mercy, not stir up the anger of Almighty God against themselves.  They should show respect, and we want them to do so for their own sake.

Gordo’s decision to quit using our Saviour’s name as blasphemy is a good one.  It won’t make him a Christian, or lessen his need for faith in Christ.  It won’t change his eternal destiny, and he may not be doing it for all the right reasons, but it is still a good thing.

The “Oddity” of “Jesus Christ” as Blasphemous Profanity

This was Gordo’s big question:

So it strikes me as odd that Jesus Christ’s name somehow became a profane curse, a swear word used casually by numerous people (even some Christians). It just seems weird. It’s not like other religious figures of importance get their names used by countless thousands of people every day as swear words…

I don’t know when his name was first used as a curse and I don’t know why. It seems weird that his name became a profanity still in use today. I mean, he died over 2000 years ago. He was a criminal of his time but was Jesus really that bad a dude his name becomes a curse word?

He asks why two alternatives aren’t the swear word, rather than our Lord’s name:

Adolf Hitler, what a mess! Who’s gonna clean this up?”

Doesn’t Adolf as a curse make more sense than Jesus? Hitler was a bad dude. Pretty much everyone agrees on that. Why isn’t his name a curse? How could anyone choose Jesus Christ over Adolf Hitler for use as a profanity? I don’t get it.

“You did what? Mel Gibson! What were you thinking?”

Using the name of Christ is bound to offend some Christians (even if they don’t overtly demonstrate that it does.) I don’t think using my suggestion would offend anyone, would it? (emphasis added)

It was this question, especially, to which I wanted to respond.  Why has this odd thing happened?

Some Reasons, From a Biblical Perspective

The Desire to Offend

Look at the sentence I put in blue.  Gordo’s suggestion might not offend anyone, but some people like to offend. They don’t respect others, and they hate God.

Romans 1:29-30

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

These verses describe people who completely reject God, truth, and righteousness.  Sometimes people are despiteful, wanting to offend others, and are proud that they can do it if they want, proud that no one is going to tell them what to do.  They are disrespectful, proud, and spitefully uncaring about anyone or anything but themselves.

Some people use the name of our Saviour as blasphemy out of a proud desire to offend and to show off how big and tough they are.  It’s stupid and immature, of course — there is nothing impressive about offending people.  But Christians aren’t surprised that people use Jesus’ name in this way, because some people hate God and want to be disrespectful.

The Desire to be Important

This actually covers all blasphemy, not just using Jesus’ name that way.  Look at this verse:

II Timothy 3:2

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers….

Note the things that come right before “blasphemers” — loving our own selves, boasting, and proud.  All of these could perhaps be summed up with “I want to be important.”

Blasphemy, any profanity, is a way of saying, “Pay attention to ME.  I am the one who is saying something important.  I am the one who is upset.  You want to know how upset I am?  Just listen to the way I’m expressing it.  It is MY anger, or MY distress, or MY pain, or MY feeling of whatever kind, that is important.  Listen to ME.  How I feel is so important that it is making me say THIS!”

Thus, any profanity is at its core selfish and childish — so it is extreme.  When a child throws a temper fit, they are trying to be loud.  It is “louder” (more attention-grabbing) to blaspheme good than to blaspheme evil.  A temper tantrum is generally an attempt to manipulate someone by attacking them or something they care about.  No one cares if you attack Hitler, and it will hardly draw much attention, so it is neither selfish nor childish enough to meet the requirements for profanity.

Christians aren’t surprised when people blasphemously use Jesus’ name as profanity, because it is an act of proud selfishness, exalting the importance of self over respect for the Lord.  That happens all the time in lots of different ways, not just in blasphemy.

A Spiritual Battle

Finally, Christians believe this form of blasphemy is because of evil spiritual influences.  The Bible teaches that Satan is the god (or spiritual ruler) of this world, for the time being, and he wants to blind people to the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for them.

II Corinthians 4:4

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Satan doesn’t want people to believe the true good news, the Gospel.  He hates Jesus and wants people to oppose Him.  Satan influences / tempts people to use “Jesus Christ” as blasphemous profanity because it suits his purposes.  It has people imitating his hatred and disrespect for the Lord, and it helps to keep them blinded to the Gospel.

I hinted at some of this in my post to which I linked above:

No one ever says, “Oh my Satan,” or a watered-down “Oh my Santa.” Or, for that matter, “Oh my spaghetti” or “Oh my desk.” Why do unbelievers always use “Oh my God”? We know why — the god of this world is influencing them to use words that diminish reverence for the Almighty God. Why should Christians even mimic that with a watered-down “Oh my gosh”?

Satan doesn’t want people to think of our Lord as a real Person, who really loved them, really died for their sins, and really rose from the dead.  He wants to turn Jesus into an empty, meaningless profanity, which is not what you do with real people, and he wants people to disrespect the Saviour.

Real people don’t have their name made into profanity.  It just doesn’t happen — but even the most extreme skeptics generally concede that Jesus really lived.  When people do this, they are tacitly acknowledging, knowing or not, that there is something more about Jesus, that He is more than just a good man and a religious teacher. He isn’t Mohammed, or Buddha, or the pope, or Joseph Smith.  People don’t use their names as profanity.

As Gordo said, there is no real reason for “Jesus Christ” to be blasphemous profanity — or at least, no reason the unbelieving world can give for it.  There are many reasons (I’ve given three) for it if He is exactly who He said He is — the Son of God, the Lord of all things, the One who is to be honoured as the Father is honoured, the One who will judge.  The fact that He stands pretty much alone in this matter is compelling evidence that there is something unique about Him, something that others don’t have.

Jesus truly is our Lord and our God.  That is the only reason His name is used as blasphemous profanity, the only explanation that makes any sense at all.

Follow up:  Why the Name “Jesus” Matters So Much — God With Us

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
This entry was posted in The Christian and Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Why Is “Jesus Christ” Used as “Blasphemous Profanity”?

  1. Hello Jon,
    Thank you for taking the time to address the questions I asked in my blog. You have given me much to think about… in regards the specific issue of the Lord’s name used as profanity and things of far greater significance and importance to life, the universe and everything.
    Your response to my question about why the name of Jesus became a profanity in the first place (and why it remains so) is profound in its simplicity. It just makes SO much sense I can’t believe I didn’t think of it. It’s not like I haven’t recognized and pondered man’s self-centered need to feel important before. I have. Many times. And yet, in all my ruminations about the core subject of that blog entry I failed to consider that inherently human weakness. (And the why of THAT gives me even more to think about.)
    You describe my blog as “PG”. It is certainly that. I wouldn’t recommend any child or young person read it without parental guidance… especially many of the earlier entries which make reference to my dark years of drugs, violence, bad decisions and Godless behavior. I am not that man now (but I am the sum of those parts). I am on a journey.
    If you’re interested, I have a couple other later blog entries which further illustrate my transition away from the darkness…
    The first is a factual telling of a “non-Christian” receiving the gift of a “God moment” (My Mother’s terminology. She is a devout Christian.) You can find it here:
    http://dewonthenewts.blogspot.ca/2012/10/did-god-send-kestrel-to-calm-chaos.html
    The 2nd, while it doesn’t reference God or Faith directly is, I believe, very much related to my journey toward understanding God’s bigger picture…
    http://dewonthenewts.blogspot.ca/2012/11/a-bird-in-hand-i-believe-in-miracles.html
    I understand if you don’t wish to allow this comment to be viewed by your blog’s followers.
    Thank you for your response to my blog.

    Respectfully,
    Gordo

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Gordo. I actually read a lot on your blog before deciding to link to it, including the posts you mentioned — and some of the other kind you warned about as well. It’s pretty obvious you’ve matured a lot from those “dark years.” I think I’ve warned my readers enough to let your links stand — if they go check your blog, they know what they are finding. 🙂

      I’m glad you found it interesting and helpful. The fact is, profanity is sin, and the Bible tells us a lot about sin. A Christian doesn’t want to sin, so he tries to be alert to underlying causes (such as pride, in this case), because if you can deal with the underlying attitude, it helps you root out the bad external habits. So a Christian who reads the Bible a lot is likely to have some answers on this kind of thing.

      I was struck, when I read your kestrel post, by this: “Yes, I do believe in God… but I don’t believe anybody else shares my definition of God.”

      If God is good, He would let us know about Himself — He wouldn’t be good if He left us in the dark. So if you are looking for a right definition of God, you should assume that He gave us that definition, and find it. I’m persuaded we find that in the Bible. But really, “definition” is not the right word. You don’t define your wife, you met her and got to know her. God is a person, Someone you get to know. To talk about defining God is a partly wrong definition, if you get what I mean. Jesus talked about us knowing God — “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

      I don’t believe we find God in experiences like your kestrel, but in the Bible. But I DO think He uses kestrels and many other things to get our attention. He loves us too much to not reach out to us. That’s where my follow-up post, about the name of Jesus, comes in. I’ll try to get it done Monday or Tuesday — maybe tomorrow, but probably not (I have to preach Sunday, after all :)). It’s really about God reaching out to us, not just leaving us in the dark down here. It’s the real reason Satan hates that Name so much, and wants to turn it into blasphemy.

      God has never waited for us, He has always come seeking. Did He send a kestrel to behave in an unusual way to get you thinking about Him? Sounds like it. My reason for thinking so is NOT the “farewell” posture or “physics-defying” aerial ability. The reason I think God specifically sent that kestrel is because of the response it caused in you. That sounds to me like God drawing someone, reaching down and saying, “Gordo, it’s time to start thinking about who I really am,” sending a bird to get your attention and then moving your heart to think about Him, and not just the bird.

      As you said, it’s what you do with it now that matters. If you leave it as just a kestrel, or decide to slap your own definition on God rather than find Him as He truly is, you’ll only have a neat story about a kestrel. But as I said in my post after this one, God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). If He is drawing you to Himself, it’s time to seek diligently and get to know the real “definition,” His definition, of just who this God is, what He’s done for us, how much He loves, and what He’s looking for from us. You’ve got a Bible. Start reading, maybe with the Book of John, really trying to find who this God is. You’ll never regret it.

      And feel free to pop back here, or contact me through my contact page, if you have any questions or need any help. I would consider it a privilege. And I’ve prayed that God will bless you with a true knowledge of Him.

    • Matt Jones says:

      Awesome news Gordo. To Jon’s point God does use things that specifically speak to the individual. I myself am an atheist convert to Christianity. This post in old so I am sure that you are a lot further in your spiritual walk at this point but wanted to express how happy I am for you.

      Best regards,

      Matt

  2. Rafael says:

    Your article was good until the selfishness part, Loving yourself is no sin, as a matter of fact, what YHWH(The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit) said,

    Matthew 22:34- 40 ” But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, [a]a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [b]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”” – YHWH(The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit)

    Jesus name should not be used a curse, but a blessing, He is important, The Very Reason we exists, should be taken in high regards, we should Love Him more than ourselves here.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Rafael. Selfishness certainly is a sin. There is a reason I Timothy 3:2 includes “lovers of their own selves” in a list of horrific sins.

      Yet, you raise the good point that we should understand that in the context of all of Scripture. A man is also to love his wife as himself. The point in I Timothy 3:2 is that “lovers of their own selves” is surrounded by covetous (I want things for me), proud (thinking more highly of me than I ought to), boasters (exalting me in my words), blasphemers (exalting me above the Lord), etc. It’s all about inflating the importance of ME.

      Selfishness is when we love ourselves above others, especially above the Lord. That’s the type of thinking that produces blasphemy.

      • Michael Gleason says:

        We tend to have no trouble loving ourselves. “Love your neighbour as yourself” was not intended to encourage this (as long as we love others too), but rather to instruct us to redirect our love to others.

  3. Stephen says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your reasons as to why it is Jesus’ Name and not some other false religions’ leaders’ names that are used as curses.
    I read the earlier post about “omg” as well. I am really bothered when Christians I know use that one.
    I don’t want to nitpick, but I had the same problem with my Christian school growing up. I always want to know when I am told that “gosh” is the same as using the Lord’s Name in vain is to ask what can one say if you say, drop a hammer on your toe or burn your hand? The “f” or “s” words are certainly worse than “gosh.” My thinking is that it is a substitute, even if you say “spaghetti,” which doesn’t start with a “g,” it still is a substitute.
    Thank you!

  4. peaceforeternity says:

    Hi Jon and friends,

    I was sooooo happy to see this article because this subject truly bothers me!! I HATE the way people say ‘omg’ and ‘oh my ***’ etc etc. Of course non- believers don’t know, and even if told, would not care about what they are actually saying! It does not matter what word you replace your blasphemy or swearing with.. I believe it is the intention of the heart. I am NO angel and I have often slipped up, even after I realised things about my words some time ago.. but I repent immediately and I have become so much more aware. When I hear people using God’s name in vain, it is like a punch in the stomach!!

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Good thoughts. I think there are two problems here. One is when we have blasphemy in our heart. The other, less serious, but still a problem, is when we are casual in the way we speak of our God out of simply not thinking about it.

      I suspect when Christians use words like these, it is often carelessness. They haven’t thought, and they haven’t had the proper reverence for God, but they don’t actually intend to blaspheme. That isn’t as damaging, but it still needs to be corrected.

      May the Lord bless you as you seek to follow Him!

  5. Thank you for this detailed article. I have asked people (family or otherwise) not to use my Lords name as a curse in my presence (at least) – and many respect that. I have often asked them how would they feel if….(and I ask them their mommys name) I used their moms name to express myself in anger / frustration, that usually makes it clear.

    Re: having an opinion about something differing from another persons opinion isn’t judging. God has given us a sound mind to chose between right and wrong, and to hate what He hates.

    Again article is worthy of sharing.

    God bless!

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thank you for the good comment. Yes, people would not appreciate it if you used the name of someone they love as a curse, and many people will understand that and respect a peaceable request.

  6. Dieter Ruth says:

    I was curious as to why people, believers and unbelievers, alike, would use the Name of Jesus as a curse word! Some of your comments were very interesting, and I would just like to add a couple of mine if you do not mind. When I hear people use Jesus as a swear word, it grieves me, deeply .I love My Lord, Jesus Christ with all my heart, and every time I hear His Holy Name used as a swear word, I realize the god of this world is behind all this because there is no other Name by which we can be saved, and only in the Name of Jesus is there power! Satan fears no other name mentioned because there is no power in any other name to be saved and forgiven of our sins . Satan is a liar and deceiver, and he will use whatever he can to deceive humankind. People worship and praise the Lord, with hands lifted high, how can they then so casually blaspheme that holy Name. It reminds me what it says in James about the tongue, that out of a fountain you cannot have sweet and sour water coming out. Yes, people curse God out of anger and frustration, but it just shows me they are not even thinking of what they are saying. They just blurt it out. I just don’t know why?

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thank you for the good thoughts. You are right when you say “the god of this world is behind all this.” That’s why people “just blurt it out,” too. In their anger and frustration they have given control of themselves into the hand of the evil one, and he uses the opportunity to move them to use profanity.

      • Dieter Ruth says:

        Thank you for responding. I agree with you. When people are angry and frustrated, they are being controlled by the evil one. One day, by the grace of God, when I am with my Lord Jesus and all the redeemed, their will only be praise and worship to Our God, forever and ever! God bless you as live for our precious loving Lord, Jesus Christ.

      • Jon Gleason says:

        Amen! Even so come, Lord Jesus!

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