January 19, 2012

In Michigan it is Illegal to Kill a Dog Using a Decompression Chamber

I’m not sure what people want to blow up dogs in decompression chambers, but in Michigan it is illegal.  There is actually a law specifically against this. I’m not making this up. I quote:
287.279a Killing dog or other animal; use of high altitude decompression chamber or electrocution prohibited. Sec. 19a. An animal control officer or other person killing a dog or other animal pursuant to the laws of this state shall not use a high altitude decompression chamber or electrocution for that killing.  
Sure, I agree. If you were thinking about doing this, don’t. No one wants to see Fluffy turned into Puffy. But what amazes me is the fact that someone was concerned about this enough to make sure there was a law against it. Was this once a big problem? Was this what people did to pass time before the internet? Or was there a very forward-thinking State Senator who said, “I know our society needs animal control officers, but we must not allow the possibility of them killing dogs using a high altitude decompression chamber! We need to nip this in the bud!” 

This law is fine. As I looked around online, I learned that this really is an issue. However, I doubt that many people would put this law in their top ten. If your state could only have ten laws, would you pick this one or would you save the spot for something more important? My guess is that this one wouldn't make the cut. I think the same thing is true for the Third Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). If you only had ten laws for mankind, would you pick that one? Why not something that seems more important, like “Thou Shall Not Commit Arson” or “Thou Shall Not Litter”? 

We tend to think of the Third Commandment as a throw-away commandment. God doesn’t view it that way. He made it third on His list and He takes it seriously. If you don’t think so, read the account in Leviticus 24:10-23 where God directed a blaspheming boy to be stoned to death for breaking this commandment.

God takes His name seriously because His name is His reputation, His glory. Yes, YHWH is the most sacred name of God, but this commandment goes deeper than merely guarding some set of letters or sounds that identify God. The main point is not about the specific sounds. In English the word “bog” means a swampy area but in Russian it means “God.”  As Edward Clowney writes in How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments, “Using God’s name is a serious act not because certain sounds are holy, but because God himself is present in his name, and all his works reveal that name” (40). 

Consider how the Bible speaks about someone’s “name.”  For example, Proverbs 3:3-4 states, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 22:1 states, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Thus when Psalm 8:9 states, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” it is talking about God’s reputation, his glory, and there is nothing more important than this.

This commandment diagnoses our disrespect for God’s reputation when we see some of the specific ways that we violate it.  For example:

A.       False oaths. Leviticus 19:12 states, “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.” Now, not all oaths and vows are outlawed.  (See Deut. 6:13 and 2 Cor. 1:23.)  However we need to remember that when we pledge by God’s name, we are staking God’s honor on our faithfulness to this vow.

B.       Casual or disrespectful use of God’s name. How dare we use God’s name as a four-letter swear word? We barely even notice it when God’s name is used this way on a show. It’s also wrong when we use His name as a casual exclamation, as if “Praise the Lord” just means, “That’s neat.” When we do that, aren’t we using His name is a vain, empty manner? Finally, what about the constant use of the abbreviation “O.M.G.” by everyone from yahoo.com to Christian teenagers. Christians should not use that abbreviation. No one is going to think it stands for “Oat Meal Gopher.” 
 “Casual use of God’s name is prohibited precisely because it wears away our sensitivity to the enormous reverence we owe it.” -Michael Horton, The Perfect Lew of Freedom, p. 104. 
C.       False Prophecy. God does not like it when we put words in His mouth. Deuteronomy 18:20 says that a prophet who falsely presumes to speak in God’s name should be put to death. Jeremiah 14:14-15 declares God’s distain for the false prophets who were preaching “delusions of their own minds.” Their message of peace and safety was popular with the king and the masses, but it wasn’t from God. Today we have politically correct pastors and denominations who would rather proclaim what is acceptable than what is true. They claim God’s authority to justify sin and disobedience.

D.      False teaching about God. God is glorified when we see the truth about who He is and what He has done. Instead, false teachers claim that God doesn’t have the attributes the Bible says He has. He hasn’t created what the Bible says He created.  He hasn’t done all that the Bible says He has done. False teaching changes God and robs Him of His glory.

E.       Manipulative God-talk/ Using God’s name to advance our own agendas.  Everyone from politicians to sports fans to Survivor contestants wants to claim God for their cause. Marketers use God to sell their stuff. Everyday Christians claim God’s authority for their own decisions saying, “God told me” or “I’m being led…” Those phrases sound spiritual, and they are conversation stoppers. But in most cases, wouldn’t it be better to say, “I think this is what God wants me to do…”?  Don’t pretend you have a direct line to God if you don’t.

This command directs us to honor God’s reputation with our lips and our lives.  If you call yourself a Christian, you are identifying yourself with His name. How is God’s reputation being lifted up or dragged through the mud by the way you live your life? If you call yourself a Christian, live like it. Don’t be a jerk or a hypocrite. Don’t put a fish on your car and then drive like you’re the only person on the road who matters. Don’t say you’re a Christian on your business card and do sloppy work or rip people off. Don’t wear a youth group shirt to school and talk like a pervert in the halls. And remember, even the angels see what you do in secret.

Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The good deeds you do, do in His name, for hHs reputation, not in your name for your reputation.

The Third Commandment isn’t a throw-away commandment. There are good reasons God make it #3 on the list. God’s glory is worth it.

And ask yourself, if this were the only commandment you had to keep, would Jesus still have needed to go to the cross to save you? If so, remember that His name is also your only hope, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rm. 10:13). 

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