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Discussion 3 to the 3rd Commandment
On “Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain”

by John Tyrrell

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re: Scott Klajic's comments


I'm going to try to avoid "swear" or "oath" - which become quite ambiguous in this context. If I use "curse" and "solemnly attest," I think it will be clearer.

You are right that the discussion on commandment 3, as I wrote it, was written strictly in terms of cursing.

You express the view that the commandment should be interpreted with respect to solemn attestation - and I agree that this is an accepted theological interpretation.

Another interpretation would be the forbidding of the use of God's real name for any purpose (commonly expressed as Jehovah in English or alternatively the Hebrew letters transliterated into the Roman letters JHWH.)

Of course there are those who would say "all of the above."

Whichever interpretation we approach, the commandment is about special protection of God's name, and thus a religious requirement, not an ethical or moral requirement.

If we take the interpretation I used in the published article, the 3rd commandment is not a ban on cursing - it's just a ban on the use of God's name in cursing.

If we take the interpretation you suggest - with respect to using God's name when making a false solemn attestation, it is not a ban on making a false solemn attestation - it's just a ban on the use of God's name in making a false solemn attestation.

And if we take the other approach - forbidding of the use of God's real name for any purpose - then again, it is not a general prohibition on using anyone's real name (and secret real names were common in early cultures) - but just a prohibition on God's name.

Regardless - I can see no moral or ethical issue covered by the commandment as written. The limitation of application to God's name makes it strictly a religious issue.

Yet, I would see a worthwhile ethical issue if the commandment was a prohibition on cursing, a prohibition on false attestation, and / or (in certain cultures,) a prohibition on misuse of another's secret name.