Saying God's name in vein

Hi, I have been debating if saying God’s name in vein trivially is a mortal or venial sin.
for example if you dropped something and said it. I have always though that it was, and it extremely offends me. Now I have heard that it is only a venial sin :confused:

In order for a sin to be mortal it must contain all three of the following conditions: Grave Matter, Full Knowledge, Full Consent. Or in other words, it’s wrong, you know it is, and you do it anyway. In the example you gave I would say it is most likely the following scenario.

Grave Matter: Yes. Using the Lord’s name in vain is in direct conflict with one of the commandments.

Full Knowledge: It sounds like up until recently, we could say yes, you had full knowledge that it was a grave sin.

Full Consent: This is where I would say most people avoid mortal sin. Usually when you drop something, or hurt yourself, this expression is a reactionary involuntary exclamation. Thereby not having full consent and avoiding mortal sin. If however it is said deliberately, then yes all three qualifications would be present and it would in fact be a mortal sin.

Taking the Lord’s name in vain is essentially about swearing false oaths.


CCC 2150 The second commandment forbids false oaths. Taking an oath or swearing is to take God as witness to what one affirms. It is to invoke the divine truthfulness as a pledge of one’s own truthfulness. An oath engages the Lord’s name. “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him, and swear by his name.”

CCC 2151 Rejection of false oaths is a duty toward God. As Creator and Lord, God is the norm of all truth. Human speech is either in accord with or in opposition to God who is Truth itself. When it is truthful and legitimate, an oath highlights the relationship of human speech with God’s truth. A false oath calls on God to be witness to a lie.

CCC 2152 A person commits perjury when he makes a promise under oath with no intention of keeping it, or when after promising on oath he does not keep it. Perjury is a grave lack of respect for the Lord of all speech. Pledging oneself by oath to commit an evil deed is contrary to the holiness of the divine name.

CCC 2153 In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained the second commandment: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all. . . . Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” Jesus teaches that every oath involves a reference to God and that God’s presence and his truth must be honored in all speech. Discretion in calling upon God is allied with a respectful awareness of his presence, which all our assertions either witness to or mock.

CCC 2154 Following St. Paul, the tradition of the Church has understood Jesus’ words as not excluding oaths made for grave and right reasons (for example, in court). “An oath, that is the invocation of the divine name as a witness to truth, cannot be taken unless in truth, in judgment, and in justice.”

CCC 2155 The holiness of the divine name demands that we neither use it for trivial matters, nor take an oath which on the basis of the circumstances could be interpreted as approval of an authority unjustly requiring it. When an oath is required by illegitimate civil authorities, it may be refused. It must be refused when it is required for purposes contrary to the dignity of persons or to ecclesial communion.

so is it a mortal sin to use it like when you drop something say. I am not saying that I do this, its just that I heard that this is a venial sin when I thought it was a mortal sin. :shrug:

If you or any person make it your policy to not use such oaths then you can make it happen. Why not say, “Oh bother!” or “Fiddlesticks!” With such phrases you can say something and keep your conscience clean.

A better course would be to simply react with the knowledge that the thing is only just that “a thing”. So if it drops and breaks “So what”. When a person dies those things mean nothing.

God bless

In raising my child, I’ve always said not to say his name unless you are talking to him.:wink:

that’s right, its just I see so many Catholics saying it carelessly :mad:

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