Pastor Peter’s “Letter to My Grown Children: OMG! Are you infected?”






An open letter to my grown children

Hey Guys,

Every generation talks differently. I get that.

You all have spared me from coarse speech, and I am grateful. I hope this is just how you speak. Why do I need to even talk about this since we don’t have a problem? Well, mom and I are not always with you, and we dearly love to see you develop excellence in your life all round. There is a casual evil that concerns me. It is so prevalent in our society today that I find it alarming.

First, I am concerned with words that are related to God. I hear young people (with older ones following suit) using expressions like, “Oh My God” or OMG for short. Sadly, this is not limited to pre-faith people. Christians seem to say these terms like anybody else. This seems to fly against the quite clear injunction, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7). OMG is a variation of similar older statements such as “Good God,” or “Jesus!” This generation is no worse than previous to create “OMG” but it is the widespread use among young people who are supposed to be disciples of Jesus that bothers me.

We can debate what it means to misuse God’s name. But I think a good way to remain sensitive is to at least recognize how the Jews do it, even though we may not want to follow them. When the Jews want to write the word “God,” they write is as “G-d.” This as a way of avoiding a casual disregard for God and some inadvertent misuse of God’s name.

Let’s say every time we mention “God” or “Jesus” we do as the Muslims do, and include some doxology behind it. They will say “Prophet Jesus (Peace be upon him),” often shortened to (PBUH), or “Allah (May he be glorified and exalted),” usually shortened to (swt). I am sometimes amused at how complicated the conversation gets because of this practice. At the same time, it makes misusing God’s name extremely cumbersome. It’s a non-starter. A good non-starter.

I don’t suggest we follow Muslim custom. But I ask if we should be more or less respectful of the one true God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of Jesus Christ, true God of true God. For me, the answer is clear. My view of God needs to be so high that it automatically precludes the cavalier use of “God” as an exclamation point. To top this off, we are clearly told God does not find it cool when we use his name in vain.

I cringe when I hear OMG, or other similar exclamations that misuse God’s name coming from the lips of the disciples of Jesus. I expect it of the world, but as a disciple of Jesus, I love him, and don’t find it compatible with my love for Jesus.

the-historical-origins-of-6-swear-wordsWhen we first arrived at Aberdeen, we needed to buy a car to move around. I took a bus to get to the house to look at the used SAAB that we eventually got. While on the bus, I sat in front of two pretty blonde “lassies.” They couldn’t be more than 15 or 16 years old. Probably younger. They were speaking in Aberdonian (more properly Doric ? dialect). I didn’t understand what they were saying, but there were enough swear words similar to English for me to recognize them. Their speech was so coarse it would make a sailor blush!

That was some years back when you guys were really little. But the tide was only just beginning. Today, I hear so much coarse talk among young people that it is quite heartbreaking. We have come into a culture that accepts the vocab of foul-mouth rap artists. It is almost like vulgarity is elevated to a level of social acceptance not previously seen. That is my second concern – vulgar words.

Should such talk be accepted? I think not. I think there are times we are called to hate. “A time to love and a time to hate” (Ecclesiastes 3:8). This would be one such time – to hate coarse speech. We must not allow the repetition of evil to desensitize us to how loathsome evil ought to be.

From this depth of foul speech, which I cannot expect better from the world, I see people who consider themselves disciples of Jesus adopt a version of such foul speech. Perhaps not as foul, but foul nonetheless.

We can imagine the Ephesians to be as foul-mouth as anybody else. But when they became God’s children, they were enjoined, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths ….” And “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 4:29; 5:4).

We cannot help what we hear, but we can help what we say. It can be hard to stay our language in a perverse world. I distinctly recall my Basic Military Training (BMT) when foul language was the norm. After a while I had to make a conscious effort to deprogram myself from what I hear. I remember the words, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). The need for me to deprogram my vocabulary from what I hear became a personal goal and delight.

Remember the Brazilian guy I met in Stuttgart? One of the things he told me was that he wanted to be like me, to stop using vulgar words. I didn’t sell him such an idea. I just didn’t use it in my vocabulary. Then I learned from him that it made a difference to him. He saw me as my own man, quite untouched by casual vulgarity, quite without the need to use vulgar words to gain acceptance.

You know we become what we say. When I yell at you, it doesn’t make me less angry but more. When I speak with you gently, the best of me comes to the fore so you see the best in me. If we say something, it molds us. If we use casual vulgarity, it moves us another step towards casual sex. It pollutes our minds and perverts our hearts.

Guys, grow up in the values of the Lord Jesus Christ. Stay away from anything that drags you down to the degradation of the world. What we say makes us what we are. Words of love, blessing, and encouragement build up those around us and builds us up at the same time.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace …” (Colossians 4:6)

With all my love,


Pastor Peter Eng, 16 July, 2015

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