What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Honor, Part 2: Did the Greeks Capitalize Pronouns for Their Gods?

I've always been perplexed by why people capitalize "him" and "he" and "his" when speaking of God. I've never understood it and furthermore I've never seen it written anywhere that this is a rule to be followed. Surely, God is greater than English rules of punctuation but since when does he care? He knows he's great and could change grammar rules at a moment's notice, but is it really necessary to take it upon ourselves to do that. The truth is that we honor God for ourselves and for others. On a very cynical plane we honor God to show everyone else, "Hey, look how much love I have in my heart for God." Or in my case it's always been, "Oh, gees! I better take off my hat, and stand during this prayer or people are going to ask why I don't love God."

And then my mom informed me that "gees" is short for "Jesus" and that I shouldn't use it in vain either. Of course, every psuedo explative and alternate cuss word is a dirivative of "God" or "Jesus" or some refference to them. You really can't swear without offending God; or rather offending God's followers. Take a look.

Gosh: God

Darn: damn

Gees: Jesus

Gees-Louise: Jesus-Louise

(Here's my favorite because my dad would always say this) Dad-gummit: Switch the first letters of each word, you get Gad-Dummit, which sounds an awful lot like a hillbilly with a speach inpediment making the most cardinal of swears. Somebody got really creative in order to swear.

When I was a kid people would say that when you said "gosh" you were really saying "God" and so it was still bad because, "It's what's in your heart that counts." On the one hand, it doesn't really matter because I don't think anyone who uses the word "God" as an explative is feeling any ill will toward God in their heart or otherwise. But on the other hand that little saying is right on the money. God sees our hearts, not whats on our lips.

The Bible says much about honor. I would like to know how the word "honor" is directly translated into the Greek, or Hebrew, or whatever. In the Old Testement, God obviously goes far with showing him outward honor, smiting everything that betrays him. But in the New Testement we are shown an example of how he is much more concerned with honor for our own sake. "Honor your father and mother." Makes sense. They have feelings. Show them you love them. "Honor your body." Yeah, sure, don't kill yourself with alcohol or getting a disease from a skanky woman. I got it. But, throughout the Bible, especially in the NT we see that this honor thing isn't for God, but for us. We, or at least most people, either need to honor others in order to equate love to a more tangible element, or need to be shown honor to feel loved.

So in conclusion, I'm not saying that everyone should stop showing honor God, and certainly not to each other. What I'm saying is that we have a tendency sometimes to focus on the outward expression when what is on the inside is really what matters. I don't think God derives love from physical acts of what we consider honor. I think that he sees what's really in our hearts at all times and regardless of what we do, he will know if it is genuine or superficial. At the same time, those who may go against the grain and ruffle feathers because they may not adhere to the same code of honor that most of us do, should not be judged based solely on our standards. I think this applies to people who have been raised in our culture as well as other cultures. People come to God and honor, or should I say, love God in many different ways. I don't think that one is better or worse than the others. I can't say, "Don't do that because it doesn't honor God." The response to that is, "Do you think God cares? I love God and he knows it, why do I care if you can see it or not." There's obviously a lot of reasons that someone could give as to why you shoud honor God for people, not for him. But this is why Jesus said that we don't judge the hearts of others. We don't have that capability like God does. Even if you consider yourself a good judge of character no one can read hearts or minds like God and so we should show love before judgement on every occasion.


priest said...

Interesting post. and a good one. I understand that when Jews write the name "God," they actually spell it "G-D" in keeping with tradition that Yahweh's name was too holy for vowels, hence the Hebrew name YHWH. how's that for a four letter word.

other words to cancel out of the vocab: freakin, friggin, flippin...

Paige Robins said...

You know, while my husband was at ACU, he took a ministry class with Randy Harris and Mike Cope and they said that Jesus may have actually used words and phrases that, in that time, were expletives. "You brood of vipers" was not a very kind phrase in Jesus's day. In fact, it's basically the equivalent of calling someone a "female dog" today. I'm not saying go around cussing, but it is interesting. Of course, that really has no bearing on whether or not saying "Gosh" is taking God's name in vain, but still, it's interesting.

ML said...

I capitalize He when referring to God because to lower case that pronoun referring to Him would be to make Him like any other. He is the Creator, He is my Savior, He is the real reason I have to live at all. Is it just to honor Him that I capitalize those pronouns referring to God? It is much, much more than that. The written word even with punctuation lacks a voice. I can imagine how an author meant for something written to be heard, but I don't really know. I'm just reading and the characters on the page don't come with a sound bite or a video clip. My capitalization isn't for God, its for me and the emphasis I want my readers get when I print any word for the Holy One. I am reverenced and humbled by God and Savior. He is bigger than any little pronoun, there really isn't a word to describe the kind of love I have for Him. We capitalize proper nouns like Kyle, Mary Lou and Church of Christ because of writing convention rules. Even more...we should capitalize a proper pronoun for God or Jesus Christ.

Lanugage: In what spirit were the words uttered? God and God's Son's name are not to be uttered lightly. Reverence Their names. Use them with glory and praise. Cry out to God, like Jesus did, when you are in need. "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?"
Mk. 15:34

Remember, we are set apart from the world and the worldly way of speaking our Savior's name should also be set apart from the world.

Seth Robins said...

I whole-heartedly agree. Recently, I learned that our English translations of the origional Greek in the New Testament cleaned up alot of dirty words, some said by Jesus himself. "You brood of vipers" was not the innocent statement then that it might seem now.

My point is that I don't think there is anything wrong with cussing. Jesus did it, and we're supposed to be like him. My problem is that I forced myself to quit cussing because it offended other Christians. Even some of my replacement explatives offend them! Now, I can't even bring myself to think cuss words any more. I don't have anything against them, they just don't work. Gosh!