The military invented streaming long before personal computers, let alone the internet. It was a different kind of streaming though.
I was first introduced to it my first day of basic training. November 1969, after an 18-hour flight on a turboprop, military plane, followed by a long bus ride, we finally arrived at CFB Cornwallis about 4 a.m. There, in the cold dark, we were subjected to an endless stream of invective, insults, threats of bodily harm and harsh, ill-tempered cursing such as I had never heard in my life – mostly of the four-letter kind.
For us, there were no warm words of welcome. There were no inspiring promises to turn us into soldiers or to make real men out of us. There was no greeting at all. None!
The kindest words we would hear for many weeks were a simple bellow, “Who wants out? Get out now while the getting is easy.”
All recruit hearts sank when some stepped forward to quit before we even got started.
Back home, we just didn’t talk like that. Not even the punks. Nowadays the “F” word is barely even noticed in conversation or social discourse. It is impossible to convey the shock to my system hearing all those “no-no” words in endless streams.
But there was one curse that rocked me above all the others. Hearing the name of the Lord Jesus Christ used with such reckless abandon and disrespect.
Sadly, by the time I graduated basic training, having been steeped in the testosterone driven, hyper-macho, military environment, I was cursing as thoughtlessly as everyone else. It no longer bothered me as it once had. My conscience became seared through the endless exposure, much like our society is today. What had once shocked me, barely even got noticed any more. I could barely put a sentence together without at least a couple of unnecessary “cuss words” thrown in. It became my new “normal.”
The new normal today is a barrage of sexual innuendo, gossip, sleezy jokes, and an abundance of four-letter words in our music, radio, TV and internet programming. We are saturated to the point where we no longer even hear the degradation, let alone react to it. It is part of the air we breathe. Like goldfish in a polluted bowl, there is no way to escape the toxicity.
And it changes us. It defiles, degrades and desensitizes us. Our consciences become scarred to the point we longer even notice, let alone care. It is just normal.
Even Christians have become saturated and desensitized through the entertainment we consume, and the conversations we are exposed to at work, at play, and even in our own homes. This is particularly egregious for Christians who claim to love and honour the Lord, but whose use of the language has deteriorated to the point they are not even aware of what they are doing.
Here is just one illustration. The third of the Ten Commandments says, in Exodus 20:7, “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.”
You will hear people say that common expressions such as, “Oh my God!” or “OMG” and “Good Lord!” are not ‘swears’, ‘cuss words’, or taking the Lord’s name in vain because it is just the equivalent of saying “Wow.”
This is not correct!
Clearly such ‘cuss words’ as, “God damn it!,” “Good God Almighty!” and “Jesus Christ!” and all their variations, by tone and usage, are taking the Lord’s name in vain.
However, any flippant, disrespectful, thoughtless, careless or mundane reference to God also qualifies as violation of the Third Commandment. God is holy. He is pure and righteous. He is of such high, exalted status we cannot even begin to comprehend His majestic glory and high estate. To speak of Him, or His name, in any what that is not reverent, honourable, or respectful is a failure to recognize His rightful exaltedness as God. Thus, it becomes a misuse or abuse of His Name.
The Scriptures are clear. We are to take His name seriously and use His name reverently and honourably. In that light we can now understand that any thoughtless, careless, common, or flippant use of His name would make the user guilty of using God’s name in vain.
Take conscientious care to never use God’s name with anything less than thoughtful reverence and respect. While we may have become desensitized to using His name improperly, remember that God has not been desensitized to people misusing and abusing His name.
Christians, above all others, should take notice of how flippantly, and casually we use His name. Over-familiarity causes us to take both His name and His exalted state for granted. We, who claim to love and honour Him above everything, need to take more heed how we use His name to ensure He receives the honour that is rightfully due.
“O magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3)”
“O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things.” (Isaiah 25:1)