Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain
In Catholic religious teaching this Commandment means that one
should not use the name of God except in a respectful manner and always avoid
blasphemy. But in its most authentic wording, this biblical directive forbids
the use of the Lord's name in order to defend any form of injustice: swearing
to falsehoods, justifying oppression, engaging in so-called "just" wars. In
a not too distant past modern states defined their warfare as just by establishing
their legitimacy through religious symbols; even today, in the global age, the
connection between God and violence remains a constant concern. The name of
God continues to be pronounced in many ambiguity-laden ways, whereas its sanctification
- as invoked in the Lord's Prayer - should be a haven for liberty and manifest
itself in the construction of peaceful human relationships.
Carlo Galli teaches History of Political Doctrines at the University of Bologna.
Piero Stefani, a scholar of the Bible and Hebraism, teaches at the Theological Faculty in Milan.
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