How Catholics craftily try to “get around” taking the Lord’s name in vain

Many people are well aware of the third commandment of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” – Exodus 20:7. But using the Lord’s name as a frivolous exclamation or even as a swear word is quite popular throughout our society. Even atheists will mindlessly use “G–!” or “Oh my G–!” or “J—-!” as empty exclamations. Many people think nothing of also attaching filthy expletives to the Lord’s name as part of their profane utterances.

But pious Catholics think they have figured out a way to “beat the system” and avoid this sin while still vainly using the name of Jesus. Instead of exclaiming “J—-!” or “J—- Christ!” they will substitute the expression, “J—-, Mary, and Joseph!” They imagine they can take the Lord’s name in vain, but still not sin if they append the names of Mary and Joseph. They would defend themselves by saying they are only invoking the “holy family” trio in prayer rather than using the Lord’s name disrespectfully.

Two thoughts:

  1. No matter how they try to sugar coat it, they’re still taking the Lord’s name in vain.
  2. Invoking anyone in prayer other than God is blasphemy. Nowhere in the entire Bible does a believer pray to anyone other than God.

My parents went to mass every Sunday, but that was the visible extent of their Catholic faith as far as I ever noticed. However, I had a boyhood friend whose parents were very pious Catholics. Whenever the occasion called for a forceful exclamation of anger or surprise, the mother or older sisters would let out an animated, “J—-, Mary, and Joseph!” My sister-in-law, who also once fancied herself a pious Catholic, would also use this same “pasteurized” version of profaning the Lord’s name. This exclamation is used by MANY Catholics who think they are cleverly getting around the 3rd commandment. Whoops, Catholics actually number it as the 2nd commandment, which is another post altogether.

Have you ever come across Catholics who use the camouflaged curse expression, “J—-, Mary, and Joseph”? I’ve read that the phrase was once especially popular among Irish Catholics.

We are all sinners and all of us break the Ten Commandments either in thought, word, deed, or by omission every day. We can’t merit salvation because none of us are good. But God the Father sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to pay for our sins on the cross at Calvary. He defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave three days later and now offers forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and fellowship with Him to all those who repent of their sin and accept Him as Savior by faith alone. Won’t you trust in Jesus to save you?

Postscript: I’m a believer and I’m pretty adept at not using the Lord’s name as a curse word, yet I admit that I also take the Lord’s name in vain. How? I call Him my Lord, but I don’t always do what He commands me to. Praise God for His grace, forgiveness, and encouragement to keep pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! – Philippians 3:14


42 thoughts on “How Catholics craftily try to “get around” taking the Lord’s name in vain

    1. Thank you for the encouraging words, sister, and for your good wishes for my wife’s health! Yes, her leg is mending well. She begins her outpatient physical therapy tomorrow. I know you were dealing with pain in the past and I hope you’re coping okay with that? Lord bless you, too, in your faithful service to Him!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi brother got a question you talked about atheists using the words OMG how do we handle it when a Believer uses those words now please know I’m just using those words to make a point I hate the words OMG when it’s used to take God’s Name in vain.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi brother. I also hear believers toss the Lord’s name around carelessly, just like unbelievers. The phrase OMG is so popular in culture and it has rubbed off on believers who should know better. I don’t think scolding will work well in this situation. My son’s unbelieving live-in girlfriend uses OMG! and J—-! constantly. I recently started putting a positive spin on it. When she exclaims, J—- Christ!, I have said, “Yup, Jesus is the Christ!” We can do the same thing with believers. When they say, “OMG!” we can chime in with something like, “Yup, praise God for His blessings!” or “Yeah, thank God for a new day.” That doesn’t mean we have to be the “OMG” police but it can be an opportunity now and then to gently admonish the brethren who are careless in this matter.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Yes we can only go so long in warning Believers not to do that as I have in the past but you are right we can’t be the OMG police that said would you agree saying oh my goodness is better I have heard that. It’s a good way to put a positive spin on it and yes we should know better we are not like the world anymore and you make some good points.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Sister, thanks so much for the encouragement in the Lord! Writing this post brought back many vivid memories of regularly hearing the J,M, & J phrase from my friend’s family as a child. Sometimes children are more easily able to cut through the thick nonsense than adults. I remember hearing that phrase as a child and thinking, “Jesus is no dummy, He still knows you’re taking His name in vain even though you try to disguise it.”

      Liked by 3 people

  1. We have kids at church who use the OMG thing habitually. When I hear it, I always ask if they are praying, because otherwise put a cork in it. I have also offered some the chance to pray aloud for all of us. It may not stop them, but at least they usually stop saying it when I am around LOL.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Wally! Good way to have them think twice. OMG was popular when I was a kid, but these days it’s gone way beyond that and is an absolute staple of teen communication. At the risk of sounding sexist, girls/women really love to dramatize the words of OMG as they say them, somewhat of a shared tribal/social performance.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good post. Sadly I see some Christians so called blaspheme too. Its grievous for me to hear. When I evangelize sometimes people say what’s a big deal. I often use the analogy of someone giving a mean “Your momma…” joke. Even if its a joke, its mean against someone who gave you life how much more so should you honor God who has given us life, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks. We’re having a animal behaviorist come over to a$$e$$ the situation. Grrrrr. She was pretty good for 6 weeks after my wife broke her leg, but the last two weeks the attacks are almost nightly. No idea what sparks the anxiety, it’s year round.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Tom for addressing this topic. I have heard Catholics use the jmj phrase but never gave it much thought . I like what you shared with BibleGuy, regarding your sons’s girlfriend. I am going to try it at work next week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Crissy! Oh, my son’s girlfriend uses the Lord’s name as an exclamation CONSTANTLY. I’ve gotten blank stares when I responded with a positive “twist” but hopefully she’s thinking about it a little bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am amused that some “denominations” continue make their religion around the criticism of the Church of Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church. Why, because, without the Catholic Church, there would be n9 denominations which exist to be against her. See the reality?


    1. Praise the Lord for using the early Reformers to reclaim the Gospel of grace, but it took subsequent Reformers to remove remaining vestiges of Roman error. You would have us all return to attempting to merit our salvation under the thumb of the pope and his holy inquisition. Your popes condemned freedom of religion and democratic government up until the end of the 19th century. Do you follow the progressive brand of Catholicism promoted by Francis and his allies or the conservative version defended by cardinals Burke, Sarah, Muller, et al?

      Liked by 1 person

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