Evangelical Christian culture has a specific idea of what the third commandment entails and goddammit, they won’t hear anything else.
As a participant in western Christianity you are taught that this command is supposed to keep God’s name from being spoken with disregard or irreverence. From Sunday school onward the exegesis of taking God's name in vain is usually presented without context or explanation. Christian culture doesn't tend to be overly curious about meaning and intent.
People who identify as Christians become visibly uncomfortable when God’s name is spoken with apparent irreverence. They are on you like white on rice if you say oh God or oh my Lord. “Was that in vain?” you are then asked. Many of them don’t even approve of “gosh” because it is just a substitute for the authentically vain version. Christian culture has decried the use of “omg” for the same reason. What if the “g” stands for “gosh,” you might ask? We can’t know, they say, and we must not give the appearance of evil. End of discussion.
The evangelical definition of taking God’s name in vain is so far-reaching that it has become the mainstream (secular) definition. Ask someone what it means to take God’s name in vain and regardless of their faith tradition or religious persuasion they will probably tell you that it means using one of God’s many pseudonyms in an exclamatory or thoughtless manner. Test it right now. Poll a friend or nine and they will prove this. Jesus Christ, it’s universal.
Much of western Christianity doesn't even know that the commandments were issued to the same Israelites who, when they asked God his name, weren’t given a straight answer. They still don’t have an answer. The story goes that answer was only "I Am," which is why Jews traditionally write the name as G-d. And Christian culture hasn't really publicized the fact that the commandment issued on Mount Sinai wasn’t intended to censor careless bandying about of a literal name, but rather was stating we are not to use God to justify or legitimize an action that is not justified or legitimated by God.
Getting this detail wrong has resulted in Christian culture declaring God’s position on causes such as war, marriage rights, evolution and megachurches, all while staunchly refraining from typing “omg” lest they blaspheme the name of G-d. The irony is excruciating, and they are able to keep it going as long as people don't ask too many questions.
|"You say I took the name in vain.
I don't even know the name."