Unlike the King James Version, the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which is less archaic and takes advantage of recent scholarship and knowledge of the best ancient texts we have, presents the second commandment as follows:
“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God…”
Like the King James, the NRSV still presents this commandment as a prohibition against swearing with the name of God. But the term “wrongful use” implies that there is more to this commandment than the common interpretation…
This morning, as I was eating breakfast and preparing leave for my drive here, I noticed an item in this morning’s news about a man who destroyed a controversial “Ten Commandments” memorial that was on public land in Oklahoma City. He smashed the memorial with his car, left the car there, walked into the nearby Federal Courthouse and surrendered himself, saying “The Devil made me do it.” The irony is wonderful, and dovetails so well with this morning’s message that I had to tell you about it and show you the photo of the destroyed monument. Notice that the break near the top of the stone runs right through the second commandment itself.
Maybe so, but what I also find ironic is the many in the West who claim to be Christian and who condemn Islam – as a whole – for being a cruel and violent religion. From time to time, we all see videos or screeds (in various internet forums or email) warning us of the evils of Islam. The thrust of these is that Islam, and usually every other religion that is not Christianity for that matter, are branded as evil. The authors of such missives usually emphasize that Islam is a threat to Christianity and/or to the United States, and that we must respond in kind. Usually, the rantings of one or more extremist Muslim clerics or out of context quotes from the Koran or various Muslim prophets are supplied as evidence that Islam is bent upon destroying anything that stands in the way of Islam’s domination of the world.