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.
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.