In Favor of OMG

In Favor of OMG

In Favor of OMG 480 360 Andrew Hicks

I am currently doing a sermon series on the 10 Commandments. I preached yesterday (7.16.23) about the third commandment. It is found in Exodus 20:7:

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. [Exodus 20:7 NRSV]

This is a terribly misunderstood and misapplied commandment. I have heard it used primarily to teach that we should never ever use the phrase “Oh my God!” That is a really shallow application of the commandment and not at all the primary heart behind it. For more on the meaning behind this commandment see Chapter 3 of Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters by Carmen Joy Imes or listen to my sermon on the commandment [find it here].

Because of this misinterpretation of the third commandment we are often highly allergic to the phrase “oh my God” (OMG).  We have gotten to the point where if it is said in any capacity we start judging people and worrying about the state of their souls. This is sad.

This is sad because I wonder if maybe OMG is not a bad thing to say in certain situations. I write this post in favor of OMG. Here are three reasons why I think we SHOULD use OMG in our language at appropriate moments.

1) It is biblical. Look it up. You will see this phrase a lot in the Bible, but especially in the Psalms. “Oh” is an expression of passion and deep feeling. We say it when we are feeling a lot or when we can’t quite articulate the words to describe what all we are feeling. “My” indicates that we are in a special relationship with this God on whom we call upon. We are his people and he is our God. He is our Father. We have the privilege by nature of our relationship with Jesus to claim a personal relationship with this God. He is not “a” god or “some” god, but “my” God! “God” of course is the most common word in the English language used amongst the Abrahamic faiths to call upon the God they serve. They delight in simply saying “God” because they do not feel they have to clarify which god since they believe their God is the only one and there is no other.

2) Even those who say it without thinking much about it, aren’t they on to something? Ok. Let’s just say someone who is not religious and does not infuse all that meaning into it says OMG in a “flippant” way. They just got cut off in traffic. OMG. They just got bad news or frustrated by something. OMG. They see a sunset at the beach. OMG.

Our knee jerk reaction as Christians is to get all up in arms and judge them, but maybe we should slow down and listen. Why is our reaction as believers not similar? After all, what else would we have them to do in a situation of distress or awe struck wonder? Should they not call on God? Sure they may not know much about that God on whom they call, but maybe that’s an open door for conversation like Paul did with the “unknown god” in Acts 17. Isn’t God the one they should call on in times of trouble? Isn’t an exclamation like OMG one of the only appropriate responses to seeing something as beautiful as creation?

3) Pastoral obligation to call on the name of God in he midst of crisis. I will often say OMG when I am with people in a time of crisis and stress. They will be mourning the sudden loss of a beloved family member and I will look them in the eyes and say with my whole heart, “oh my God!” I have never once had someone try to correct me or scold me for this usage. In fact, I have had people thank me for this usage. They found it helpful. I called on the name of God and requested his help in the midst of trouble. Isn’t that what pastors are supposed to do?

Get My Blog Emailed to You

Leave a Reply