January 3, 2007

Thou Shalt Not

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

I was raised by parents who were born and raised in the Mormon religion. We knew early that we should not and would not say the name of the Lord in vain. It was understood that this was worse than swearing of any kind. We didn't dare do it. We weren't even allowed to say "Oh my GOSH" because this was too close to the real thing.

I only remember breaking this important commandment one time growing up.

The Scene: lunchtime in the cafeteria at my junior high school

The Players: me and about 20 other students

The Action: Andre, the only black kid in school (not that that is relevant whatsoever, I'm not even sure why I even said this or why I don't delete it now) stood up at our table and announced that he was going to make a little money. We were all immediately intrigued.

"Anyone who gives me a dollar is allowed to put one scoop of whatever food you choose in my applesauce, and I will eat it all, every drop. If not, you get your dollar back."

The crowd cheered and started pulling crumpled dollar bills out of their pockets in excitement. I watched in horrified fascination as cookies, potato chips, jello, cheese, hamburger patty sections, pickles, mustard, ketchup, green beans, twinky creme, salt, pepper, bread, peanut butter, oreos, peach syrup, and milk were added to his applesauce. His wad of money was huge by the time it was finished.

There was dead silence all around as he lifted the first disgusting spoonful to his mouth. As soon as he started chewing, it slipped out of me in barely a whisper.


In that single moment, it felt like I had screamed the words. It even echoed in my brain like something yelled across a big chasm. It was like I was standing naked in the middle of the crowded room. I felt physically sick, and I remember my horror vividly, as wave after wave of shame and remorse washed over me while I stood stock still, with eyes raised to the ceiling, knowing that God had heard me and was considering sending the lightning bolt through the ceiling.

I quickly left the room and ran to the bathroom, where I locked myself in a stall and said a heartfelt repentance prayer for my sin.

Fast forward to today, where I've reached the point in my beliefs where I'm wondering if there is even a god at all.

I've noticed something peculiar about me now. As I write blogs and comments and e-mails, I've discovered the joy of writing the words. Sometimes they have different meanings, it depends on the context of my conversation or thoughts. But I have discovered that it is the only proper thing to write sometimes. It just plain fits.

OMFG (yes, I even use the F word now too at times)
Oh GAWD! (thanks, Sideon)
God Dammit!
God, that sucks.
GOD, that's awesome.
Holy. Mother. of. God.
Sweet. God. In. Heaven.

I still can't say it out loud like I'd like to, unless I'm saying I swear to God! But that's not really saying it in vain. And this surprises me because I have no problem swearing at all. I enjoy it, actually.

So why can't I say GOD like I'd like to?


Sofi said...

Oh my heck! There was a black kid in your school?

In my house, JC was taboo. For some reason dropping the occasional f-bomb was kind of okay, but taking the Lords name in vain was sin freaking city.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's something SO ingrained (like from birth), that you just can't without feeling guilty. It doesn't make it right or wrong, just makes you feel guilty, or that's my take anyway. Sometimes I get the same kind of feelings, though not with swearing, it's more the sex guilt thing. I guess I grew out of the curse word problem because my mom was the word nazi at home, now she even uses words like damn and fart and sucks (rofl becaue yes, my mom thought fart was the Ultimate F-word). Anywho, I think I know exactly what you're feeling. And as far as wondering about the existence of God or A god, doesn't everyone go through that?

Cele said...

Oh, too much. To this day my mother will occasionally (and I mean rarely) let fly a GD! the world trembles at the thought. It makes me wonder how she puts up with her children. I cuss probably second worst, am the most religious of her kids, but have I also have the second best manners.

psst! My cute little sister, farts in front of people. Now that is a sin in my family.

On the other hand something that incredibly sad to me, is that when the blinders come off most people who've grown up in a strict cult religion, like Mormonism, end up not only questioning the beliefs of that cult, but their personal belief in God. I wish you all peace, and a renewal of your faith.

Also said...

It takes a while to shed the brain washing of mormonism, and god-guilt of religion. In fact, that my main motivation for reading your blog.

Sideon said...

You have given me boatloads of new sayings to test and enjoy :)

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I try not to say Oh My God or take his name if vain just because I don't allow my son to do it or use other swear words. He can say freakin' but not fricken' (I don't know why) and I DO allow him to say crap when he is really mad.
He totally calls me out if I swear and than I have to apologize to him.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Funny, the things we hold onto. Although, I grew up around a grandfather who used god dammit as one of his favorite expletives. We were taught that was not an acceptable curse word (while others were?!) In recent years, though, it seems to have crept on occasion into our vocabulary and I've even heard my sainted mother drop the G-bomb when she's really, really, really mad.

Suffice it to say: I doubt you'll go hell for that. Besides, Margaret Mead once wrote: "Sometimes, I get in my car, drive to the end of the driveway, and let out a really loud scream. How do you pray?" Perhaps you're praying in a new way! ;-)

Anonymous said...

My daughter opened her package of leopard shoes and exlaimed in a drawn out way, "OH...MY...GOD..." My husband, out of instinct, started to correct her...but my peels of laughter stopped him and he laughed to!! Kitten is right...ingrained, indoctrinated, whatever, just another "brick in the wall"...now I am channeling Pink Floyd...Oh, my god!!

Anonymous said...

SML, You need to start with baby steps. Just say "Oh my Gob" over and over again until you slip up and say "Oh my GOD!". Trust me, it'll work.

Freckle Face Girl said...

Oh this is funny! I always kind of enjoyed being rebellious with language, but NEVER in front of my parents. :)

Anonymous said...

We were not allowed to use curse words in the house. My parents were both raised laestadianists and although they themselves never practised it, they couldn't condone cursing. Outbursts of "Herregud!" was never a problem though, not even around the elder relatives (the true believers).
I felt early on that my parents did us a favour, language-wise. Instead of swearing, we had to keep trying to build an enough vibrant vocabulary to achieve comic effects - that swear words would often otherwise do in a story. Also, it kept us from namecalling in fights which I am grateful for.

Liseysmom said...

I swear like a sailor. Nothing is taboo for me. Last week I stepped on a pointy little lego and I know I took the Lord's name in vain, as well as his mother and sister as well as several 4 letter words mixed in for effect.

Anonymous said...

SML - it's so ironic that you posted this. Gluby and I have been talking about this as well. I haven't worn garments for 3 weeks, I have smoked pot, drank alcohol, haven't been to church since May of '06, but I can not swear. I put a several huge bricks in my wall and I have yet to examine them and tear them down. Gluby just shakes his head.

JOOM - your comment about Pink Floyd reminded me of the summer I spent listening to "The Wall" day and night. Ah, nostalgia.

Pete Dunn said...

OMBFPMG, You are so sinful.

mist1 said...

I always write G*d or Gawd. I'm not entirely sure why.

belaja said...

This made me laugh for all kinda reasons. I remember in 6th grade I had something of a similar experience (though nothing so amusing to recount). Sixth grade was just a really tough year for me on all kinds of levels and I remember one day, far into the school year, I came into class from recess one day, all hot and sweaty, and under my breath, to no one in particular, I sighed and just said, "oh, God...." We were very heavily indoctrinated not to say that as kids so I was somewhat shocked at myself, but I also noticed that as I said it my whole body relaxed, all kinds of tension went out of me, and on a certain level I actually felt better. I hadn't even realized up to that moment that I'd been tense.

Years later I was telling a mo friend about it and kinda laughing. She got real serious and told me that Satan was making me tense and then prompting me to swear and then letting me relax. He was getting me to associate profanity with relaxation and thereby "conditioning me to profane." That was, I believe, how she put it. Luckily, I was too stupid as a kid to come up with THAT one on my own. I just felt both vaguely guilty and vaguely better. I think I may have started singing a hymn in my mind or something. (LOL).

belaja said...

Also, I thought it might interest you to know, that the word verification on that last post was "gbbt." That, funnily enough, is the abbreviation for the well-known profane expression "Godbibbit!"

Add that one to your list, SML.

SumWun said...

I finally learned that, really, it's religious people who use God Damnit because they have any reason to. Sometimes I think God Damnit is a prayer. God Damn the evil terrorists killing innocents. Using the God's name in vain is lying to people to get their tithing to build malls or lure more people to pay for your lie-factory. I am not a bitter man.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I left the church fifteen years ago, and I *still* feel guilty when I use the Lord's name in vain! (And also when I go out with friends or do any shopping on Sunday.)