Question about the Second Commandment

Hi there,

Well, the Second Commandment is “Do not take the name of God in vain.” I was taught that any sin against the 10 Commandments is mortal. I was taught that saying things like Oh My God! Oh Lord!..etc is a sin. Sometimes, I say these things. I don’t mean to say it in a mean way, it’s just I’m surprised/shocked. Most of the time I usually say a prayer for the person that shocked me in that way. I love My God very much, and I don’t have any intention of taking His name in a bad way.

Am I sinning? Should I confess this?


You’ve said yourself that you have no intention of taking His name in a bad way - I think that’s a crucial point: Intention. So, it depends - when you say “Oh My God” or “Oh Lord” are you actually invoking the help of the Lord? It seems to me that you are, given that you mention that you say a prayer for the person who shocked you.

On the other hand, phrases like “Oh My God” tend to roll all too easily of peoples’ tongues - even among atheists; or non-Christians even who take Christ’s name…we see it non-stop on television for example - it seems that “Oh My God” is the phrase to use when one doesn’t know what to say. If you feel that you do this sort of thing too quickly, it might be worth mentioning in Confession - making yourself conscious that you do certain things can be great for breaking old habits!

Personally, I have made myself very conscious of my tendency to take the Lord’s name in vain, and thankfully I can stop myself before I say it now & perhaps replace the exclamation for something else!

The bottom line is, if you are actually using the Lord’s name to invoke His aid, then you have not taken His name in vain.

Yes things CAN be grave matter in regards to the 10 commandments --but in many things there is ‘smallness of matter’ and thus not grave…such a for example a small lie or stealing a piece of gum etc etc etc.

murder is grave matter and lust is grave(all the related ones too)…lying under oath is grave …etc

and if done with full knowledge and full consent – are then mortal.

that was just to clarify things in regards to the 10 commandments being about mortal sin.

so even IF there is a grave matter …

if full knowledge is lacking – mortal sin was not committed.

if full consent is lacking-- mortal sin was not committed.

(of course (unless one struggles with scruples…they need to follow their confessor or the principles for them) if one thinks (not just the fear of scruples or something) that something may be grave they need to find out before they act…for it can be a grave matter to have good reasons that something would be a mortal sin and just go ahead and do it…not figuring things out one way or another–but this does not sound like what you are talking about! (for example one remembers a medication was said to cause abortion and they are pregnant or may be --and they do not find out and just take it anyhow! can read my other posts on this). and again one would need the to know it and consent to it while knowing it)

if one doubts that one has committed a mortal sin in some particular instance -one is not obliged to confess it. for only mortal sin needs to be confessed.

but of course it can be good to confess venial sins as well and to seek advice etc and clarification from ones confessor.

if one is lax of course it can be better to confess it. --this is not you.

(you have to scroll up to where 2nd commandment starts)

From the Compendium of the CCC


  1. How does one respect the holiness of the Name of God?


One shows respect for the holy Name of God by blessing it, praising it and glorifying it. It is forbidden, therefore, to call on the Name of God to justify a crime. It is also wrong to use the holy Name of God in any improper way as in blasphemy (which by its nature is a grave sin), curses, and unfaithfulness to promises made in the Name of God.

  1. Why is a false oath forbidden?


It is forbidden because one calls upon God who is truth itself to be the witness to a lie.

“Do not swear, whether by the Creator or by any creature, except truthfully, of necessity and with reverence.” (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)
  1. What is perjury?


Perjury is to make a promise under oath with the intention of not keeping it or to violate a promise made under oath. It is a grave sin against God who is always faithful to his promises.

  1. When does one commit a mortal sin?


One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

  1. When does one commit a venial sin?


One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.

I think using the name of the Lord to promote hatred or chaos, rebellion, ect can also be seen as taking his name in vein. Like suicide bombers in stuff.

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