Hi to all my Forum Friends,
In a TimesDaily Religion Forum discussion begun by an atheist Friend in December 2010, titled "What's Wrong With Atheist Bus Ads?" -- she comments, "I'd say there is nothing wrong with them, but what's your opinion?"
And, she gives us the Wikipedia link for the article "Atheist Bus Campaign": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheist_Bus_Campaign
Another atheist Forum Friend responds, "OMG! I feel so blonde. LOL, I missed that entirely. Hilarious!"
To this second atheist Friend, I reply:
"As a Forum Friend who believes strongly that we can debate, and even disagree, without offending one another -- please do not use the name of my Lord and God as your exclamation point. If you are going to use OMG (which virtually every person knows means 'Oh, my God!') -- please let it be the beginning of a serious prayer.
Otherwise, you are offending the God I worship, and you are offending me and all Christian believers. I realize you are not a believer; but we are -- and, as a Forum Friend, I ask that you begin your sentence in another way. I know that you are intelligent and can honor this request."
She tells me, "Bill, I will not have my speech censored due to your belief. I am sorry that you took offense to it, but it was in no way directed at you or what you believe in. I will not use it to be purposely offensive, but if the mood hits me and I feel an 'OMG' is appropriate, then you will see it again. I am intelligent enough to see the difference in someone being offensive for effect and someone just using a term or phrase for emphasizes. I would hope you are also."
My Friend, I fail to see when the use of a phrase which is considered offensive to many people -- is appropriate. And, I know that most folks, if they give it a wee bit of thought, can find an alternate phrase to use which is just as effective and not offensive to anyone.
I am not asking to censor your speech. I AM asking for mutual respect. Even though you were not purposely trying to offend me and other Christian believers -- taking name of our God, in whom we do believe, in vain -- is offensive to all of us.
And, as I said, I KNOW that you are an intelligent person and can find other exclamations to use in lieu of that.
You tell me, "I am intelligent enough to see the difference in someone being offensive for effect and someone just using a term or phrase for emphasizes. I would hope you are also."
I realize that you were not purposely trying to be offensive. And, even among Christian believers, there are many who do not realize that they are offending God when they write OMG in a post, or use the phrase in a conversation. Many folks, especially young Christians, think they are just using a cute exclamation.
To be honest with you, I was not aware of the many ways we had been taking God's name in vain until about 20 years ago when our senior pastor, Pastor Sam Lacanienta, used a Sunday School class to explain it to us. I had often heard, and probably been guilty of it myself, the use of words like "Geez" - which is just a shortened form of Jesus -- or "Gosh!" which is just a disguised form of God, i.e., "Oh, my gosh!" -- as exclamation points.
But, since that Sunday, I have been very aware of the different forms of taking God's name in vain. And, it sincerely does bother me to hear others do it so blatantly, even when it is not done purposely to offend another.
Because at one time I was not aware of the offense -- now, when a person does it, I realize that they, too, may not be aware that what they are saying is offensive to most Christians. So, as a Christian Friend, I will point it out to that person and let him/her know that I find it offensive. If that person then continues to do it; I realize they are intentionally trying to offend me.
As I said, even many Christians do not realize what they are doing when they write or say this. That is why, last September 2010, I posted this on Facebook:
USING "OMG" AND THE "F" WORD ON PUBLIC FORUMS: In the past few weeks, my heart has been burdened. I am seeing a proliferation of people, mostly young, but some not so young, whom I know to be Christian and whom I know come from good Christian families -- flagrantly posting two very offensive words/phrases on Facebook.
What are these words that I find so offensive? First, is the initials "OMG" and the second is the "F" word.
Why are these so offensive to me? Well, the "F" word is self-explanatory. So, we will proceed to "OMG," texting shorthand for "Oh, my God!" -- which IS taking God's name in vain. God takes His name and His glory very serious. That is why He wrote in the Bible, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, . . ." (Exodus 20:7). Just because it is abbreviated makes it no less offensive -- to God and to all Christian believers.
Creating slang versions of His name is the same, i.e., writing, or saying, "Geez" or "Jeezus" -- is just as bad as using "Oh, Jesus!" as an exclamation.
Most of the people I have seen writing or saying this have a relatively good education -- and I am sure, if that person tries just a little, he/she can find a more appropriate word or phrase to use in venting frustration, to highlight a point, or to make an exclamation.
What does surprise me the most -- is that 95% of the people I have seen recently using these offensive words and phrases on public forums -- are female. No, this is not meant to be a slam against our ladies. As Sgt. Joe Friday (old Dragnet TV series) would say, "Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts!"
When we, as Christian believers, post on public forums such as Facebook -- we are representing all Christian believers; and we are representing our Lord. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
When I read this Scripture verse, I am reminded of a story my good Friend and mentor, Pastor Sam Lacanienta, told us many years ago. When Pastor Sam was a young pastor in the Philippines, one Sunday a relative, who also was the Philippine Ambassador to England, came to the worship service. After the service, Pastor Sam asked him what it meant to be an ambassador for his country. He told Pastor Sam, "My main job as an ambassador to England -- is to not embarrass my nation while doing my job."
As Christian ambassadors for Christ, when we write on public forums, and even in private discussions -- we should be very aware of not embarrassing our Lord.
For my young Friends, when you post such words on Facebook and other networking channels -- keep in mind that you are representing, first, our Lord -- then, yourself -- and, very importantly, you are representing YOUR FAMILY, your mom, your dad, your siblings -- all your family.
So, please -- I know that you do not purposely want to be offensive. And, I know you do not want to offend God, nor do you want to embarrass your family or yourself. Therefore, when you write on Facebook or other networking channels -- write your message as though you are writing it to your mother. Write messages you would not be ashamed to have your mother, father, and Lord read. Write messages which will glorify our Lord.
And, to my non-believing Friends, while you may or may not find these words offensive; keep in mind when you post on any Forum or network channel -- that those things ARE offensive to we Christians. So, as a courtesy to us, please try to find other words or phrases to use. For that, we thank you.
To my Religion Forum Friend, you can see that it is not just you, nor is it just other Religion Forum Friends, who sometimes make this faux pas. Many Christians innocently make the same mistake. This is why I will ask them and will ask all my Religion Forum Friends: Please, if you are going to begin a sentence with the words, "Oh, my God" -- make sure it is followed by a sincere prayer. Then, we can all be blessed.
So, one might ask, "Bill, why are you resurrecting an old article? You wrote it in 2010; so, why post it again?"
The reason is simple. As long as I see Friends, many whom I know are Christian, some even in leadership positions, writing posts on Facebook and other venues using "OMG" as an exclamation point as though they were merely saying, "Check this out!" or "This should get your attention!" -- I will keep posting such articles, over and over again.
God bless, have a wonderful, blessed day,