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356 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived

have used the God of love to promote hatred, the God of trust to facili-

tate betrayal, and the God of mercy to validate acts of cruelty. Critics

of religion cite the suffering and cruelty caused by the excesses by some

of those who participated in the Crusades, the wars of religion during

the Reformation, and the Salem witch trials as examples of using God’s

name to justify such acts. The sins of Christians do indeed undermine

the credibility of faith. The name of God must never be used to support

immoral acts.



When we bring to our culture this experience of the holiness of God’s

name, we arrive with a gift for society that can be all the better when the

sacred is accepted as beneficial for the culture. It is no secret that irrever-

ence for God and sacred matters is present in certain sectors of our soci-

ety. For believers this is embarrassing, painful, and inappropriate. Public

discourse at times routinely displays little sensitivity to the revered val-

ues of people of faith. Of course, this is not universally true. There are

many people who show respect for matters religious. People of goodwill

can be as dismayed as men and women of faith at the departures from

decency in speech and the disregard for the holiness of God’s name.

Everyone’s name is important. We honor the dignity of persons by

using their names with respect. Surely we will honor each other’s names

if we acquire a habitual reverence for God’s name. Reverencing the name

of God honors him. This is the beginning of treating each other with

the respect for a dignity that is based on our being created as an image

of God.

Scripture highlights numerous ways in which God’s name is vital for

our faith life. When Job was in the midst of his worst sufferings, he said,

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; / blessed be the name of

the Lord” (Jb 1:21). God’s name sustained him in his suffering. When

the psalmist wanted to express exultant praise of God and thanksgiving

for favors received, the holy name was invoked, “Bless the Lord, my

soul; / all my being, bless his holy name” (Ps 103:1).