They Take God’s Name in Vain

Image courtesy of Burstein (https://www.flickr.com/photos/burstein/2979979221)

We’ve reached a dangerous point in our society where logic and truth are no longer seen as a virtue, but a hinderance to those who have so blindly chosen a political ideology that carries the name of God on their banners. I have adopted a saying as of late, that the devil is on vacation since American Evangelical Christians are doing enough to push people away from God—the very opposite of the directive they were given to accomplish. The fact of the matter is that this breed of radicalism does not represent the God that was reflected in the life of Jesus, but rather a manipulated and twisted version of an Americanized Mammon [a Syriac word for wealth, personified as the god of riches].

As they raise up signs and posters using God’s name, I can’t help but see it as a repeated use of taking his name in vain. The commandment was clear, ”Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain,” Exodus 20:7. But what does in mean to take his name in vain? One source states that the term vain ”can mean “empty,” “nothing,” “worthless,” or “to no good purpose.” We are forbidden, therefore, from taking the name of God (or taking up the name or bearing the name, as the phrase could be translated) in a manner that is wicked, worthless, or for wrong purposes.”

It’s been very difficult for me to align a God who hates oppression (Psalms 9:9, Proverbs 14:31, Zacariah 7:10, Isiah 10:1-4), one who often lived amongst and stood up for the outcast and minorities (Matthew 9:11, John 4, John 8, Luke 14:13-14), one who loathes hypocritical religiousness (Matthew 6:5-8, Matthew 23:1-34), and one who despises idolatry to be the same god that the Republican party preaches. The point is, they’re not the same.

American Christians have been manipulated into worshipping a false god who rejoices in the suffering of the poor, who laughs in the face of suffering women and minorities, who fights instead for the rights of the rich, and who takes pride in the open idolatry (and their denial of such) of an orange-tinted man with a history of producing bad fruit. We must come to the solemn realization that this is not a generation of proud Christians fighting for their beliefs, but of Mammonites pushing forward evermore destructive policies on the lives of the poor and oppressed.

To those who have fallen victim to this manipulation, look to the man you claim to love—Jesus—who has quite the message for those following this Republican brand of Christianity:

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

Matthew 23:13-15

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven*. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:21-23

*What is the will of the Father?

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 23:37-40

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