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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints classic stories: ‘Take not the name of God in vain’

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the most well-known stories about not taking the Lord’s name in vain comes from President Spencer W. Kimball. It was included in the May 1953 New Era. Pres. Kimball also used it in a 1981 First Presidency Message. It has been quoted in many general conferences.   Elder Oaks used the story in 1986, Pres. Hinckley in 1996 and 2006, and Pres. Eyring in 1998, just to name a few

In the hospital one day I was wheeled out of the operating room by an attendant who stumbled, and there issued from his angry lips vicious cursing with a combination of the names of the Savior. Even half-conscious, I recoiled and implored: “Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile.”

There was a deathly silence, then a subdued voice whispered, “I am sorry.” He had forgotten for the moment that the Lord had forcefully commanded all his people, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain”.

President Gordon B. Hinckley shared a personal story from his childhood during his October 1987 General Conference talk, ‘Take Not the Name of God in Vain’. It is difficult for me to imagine Pres. Hinckley swearing, even as a little boy, but we all have to learn sometime that taking the Lord’s name in vain is wrong.

When I was a small boy in the first grade, I experienced what I thought was a rather tough day at school. I came home, walked in the house, threw my book on the kitchen table, and let forth an expletive that included the name of the Lord.

My mother was shocked. She told me quietly, but firmly, how wrong I was. She told me that I could not have words of that kind coming out of my mouth. She led me by the hand into the bathroom, where she took from the shelf a clean washcloth, put it under the faucet, and then generously coated it with soap. She said, “We’ll have to wash out your mouth.” She told me to open it, and I did so reluctantly. Then she rubbed the soapy washcloth around my tongue and teeth. I sputtered and fumed and felt like swearing again, but I didn’t. I rinsed and rinsed my mouth, but it was a long while before the soapy taste was gone. In fact, whenever I think of that experience, I can still taste the soap. The lesson was worthwhile. I think I can say that I have tried to avoid using the name of the Lord in vain since that day. I am grateful for that lesson.

President Hinckley also shared this next story in the same talk

I once worked with a group of railroad men who seemed to pride themselves on the use of profanity. They tried to make an art of it. I recall handing a written instruction to a switchman. It was his job to take care of the matter as instructed, but he thought it inconvenient that he should have to do so at that time. On reading the order, he flew into a tantrum. He was a fifty-year-old man, but he acted like a spoiled child. He threw his cap on the ground and jumped on it and let forth such a string of expletives as to seem to cause the air to turn blue around him. Every third or fourth word was the name of Deity spoken in vain.

I thought, how childish can a grown man be? The very idea of a man acting and speaking like that was totally repugnant. I could never again give him my full respect.

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