Take the Name of the Lord in Vain

    Attributing something to God without His authority or authorization;1not swearing, but rather, when one claims to speak for the Lord when they do not; whenever someone proclaims their own agenda in the name of the Lord. All ought to speak in the Lord’s name the words of Eternal life. Unfortunately, many pretended saints instead speak idle words, gratify their pride, and exercise their vain ambition while using the Lord’s name only in vain.2 The Lord has instructed us: Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips, for behold, verily I say that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord and use it in vain, having not authority (T&C 50:14). The expression “My God, people!” is akin to Joseph Smith’s exasperated comment to James Arlington Bennet: “Great God! When shall the oppressor cease to prey and glut itself upon innocent blood!”3 This is not “taking the name of God in vain” because first, in both cases, God’s name is not used; second, neither involves advancing untruth while vainly attempting to empower falsehood by attributing it to God; and third, it dramatically calls attention to the importance of the surrounding statement and, hopefully, makes it all the more memorable. These are serious matters deserving one’s complete attention.4

    1 Preserving the Restoration, 20–21.

    2 Beloved Enos,166–167.

    3 JSP, Journals Vol. 2:140, December 1841 – April 1843.

    4 Preserving the Restoration, 400, 400n1069.