Thursday, March 31, 2005


New Christians sense immediately that they are not supposed to swear. Swearing is, in my mind, a fascinating subject. As I discussed here, it's not trivial matter to analyze. There is no biblical list of "bad words", and when the bible discusses "swearing" it is warning about swearing an oath.

The inhibition on swearing is, in a explicit sense, on shaky biblical grounds. Yet, like the constitutional "right of privacy", our gut tells us that it’s in there, somewhere, probably through logic of this sort:
  1. Christians are commanded to be on good behavior.
  2. Society generally regards swearing as bad behavior.
  3. Thus, Christians should not swear, going the extra mile as it were.

This is reasonable logic, but it is not on the same footing as a divine edict, such as to spread the gospel.

With that in mind, and stimulated by a recent discussion with friends, I have been thinking about Christians and the phrase "Oh my god."

This is last of the "no-nos" that get eradicated from the lexicon of new Christians. Usually, for quite some time after they learn to avoid Carlin's list, they will still blurt out an OMG to express surprise or shock, ironically causing surprise and shock among their more mature fellow believers.

I have to tell you, other than a diluted version of the chain of logic given above for swearing in general, I don't see the problem with OMG. I don't say it, because I know I'm not supposed to. But in the way it is typically used (surprise) I don't see how it is counter to any biblical admonition and I don’t see why it offends.

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