“You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.” – God
Crying out the name of Jesus Christ as a profanity when one is mad seems to be a popular expression, however it is a problem if this is the only time we call upon our Lord.
What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Simply put, it means calling out Jesus or God in a way that does not show reverence or respect.
In the Biblical tradition names have significance. Names were more than just a way for other people to identify you from others, but rather a name had meaning behind it that stood for a particular trait of that person or bestowed honor.
The name of God, best known to us as YHWH (sometimes seen written as Yahweh) was very sacred. Respecting someone meant not to use his name in a manner that was inappropriate of blasphemous.
Even today that still holds true – God asks us not to refer to him in blasphemous ways. It is a sign of respect to our Lord to respect his name. As he loves us infinitely it is a simple gesture to watch our tongues and not use God’s name in a profane way (or any other language for that matter).
Swearing falsely by God is a form of blasphemy. If you call upon the name of God in an oath and you break the oath you make God out to be a liar (1 John 1:10).
Another misuse of God’s name is to “cover up criminal practices, to reduce people to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death” (CCC #2148). Doing things such as these will give a false impression of who our God really is and defeats our mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the ends of the earth.