Is saying OMG still considered cussing?

Seems like "OMG" pops out of people's mouths as easily as "How are you?" But does saying "OMG" or even "geez" count as taking the Lord's name in vain (Exodus 20:7)? Are we disrespecting God by saying such phrases or pretending to cuss?

As Christians, one of our jobs is to honor God's name as much as we would honor God Himself. That is, any time we use His name, it should be in a right and respectful way. God, His name, and everything about Him is holy, holy, holy (Psalm 8:1, Psalm 111:9, Matthew 6:9). Using His name as an expression is not honoring His holiness.

Anyway, it doesn't even make sense... If your dad's name was Bob, would you say, "Oh my Bob"?

OMG... Did I just sin?

Okay, so maybe it makes sense to you not to say, "Oh my God." But what's the harm of OMG (short for "Oh my God"), "oh my gosh," or "geez" (the first syllable of Jesus' name)? We're not actually saying God's name, and we mean no disrespect to God. We're just using an expression, right?

Yes and no. True, we are not saying His name verbally (or via text), but phrases and words always carry their actual meaning with them. Even if we didn't mean to say it in disrespect to God, we still need to ask ourselves, "Does speaking this way help others and honor God?" (See Ephesians 4:29)

Can you honestly say that texting "OMG" would do either of those?

Maybe you're just trying to be funny or it's a natural part of your vocabulary now. Maybe you don't even think about how God's name is represented in OMG, but perhaps somebody else does. You know when someone says "that freaking jerk," they've made a word choice to keep from dropping an f-bomb. It's a cussing cheat. That's all it is. It's a way to use profanity without really using profanity. But pretty much everybody knows what it really means.

Habits are hard to break, I know. But we should still make an effort to use words that would only build up others (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and honor God.

Your Tongue is a Weapon

It's James 3:9-10 that talks about how the tongue is one of the most powerful parts of the body: "With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." As Ambassadors of Heaven, living on earth, we should only use our words for good—not evil.

Colossians 3:17 says that "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Is the fake profanity giving thanks to God? Is it something that you can honestly do in Jesus' name? If not, begin trying to re-train your tongue so that dishonoring words are not coming out in your conversations and texts.

A Note about Cussing Cheats

You may be wondering now if you should even be saying "dang" or "darn" or "crap" or "what the heck" or "holy cats" or even "schnizerdoodle" in place of the real profanity. If I slam the car door on my finger, can I use any verbal exclamations at all? How can I stop myself from saying "cripes!" when someone has just cracked their elbow into my chin during gym class?

Well, those words and many others are still cheats. But since they are not taking the Lord's name in vain, and if they do not "corrupt" someone else (Ephesians 4:29), having these words in your vocabulary is really a matter of conscience. If you feel convicted not to say them, then don't. If you find that you are corrupting your younger siblings with your words, then don't. If your parents have forbidden certain words in the house, then don't.

But if you are merely expressing yourself and not hurting or disrespecting anyone, then you are probably fine in your word choices. I know people who have made up their own profanity, and it ends up being more funny than offensive. Sometimes people use fake cuss words from movies or books, and the original meaning gets completely lost (which is a good thing).

Why is cussing such a big deal? When we use profanity, it shows the sin inside of us. It shows that we lack control over the evil in our lives. And truly, without God, we couldn't have control over anything.

Thankfully, God is graceful enough to forgive us and powerful enough to purify our hearts (1 John 1:9). As believers, we are new creations with transformed hearts (2 Corinthians 5:17), and because of this, our actions and words ought to reflect how we now have God within us.





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Catiana Nak Kheiyn is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her family—a mountain man, an adorable little girl and boy, and three socially awkward cats.