The Girls at Camp Take God Seriously

A menu dropped down when I registered my 11 year old daughter for basketball camp. “Tell us why you chose this camp.” It offered several options. “The quality of instruction … A friend is attending … Our values as a Christian college.” 

We chose the camp because it was halfway between our house and her grandmother’s. That wasn’t on the menu. Frankly, the bit about “Christian values” rattled me. I hope my values are Christian, but when I hear someone else use the phase all I hear is, “homophobic bigot.”  

So I worried when I dropped her off. But she loved the camp. And she didn’t hear a bigoted word. I asked. Instead she learned how to box out, post-up, even pull-up on a jump shot. “Oh. And I learned not to say ‘Oh my God.’ You should never say that, Dad. The girls at camp take God seriously.

I thought “OMG, it would take a miracle to get you to stop saying that.” But she quit cold turkey. Ten weeks later I’m the only one in our house still breaking the third commandment.

For years I thought this commandment was about God. And it seemed ridiculous. I have a hard time believing the One who hung the stars in the midnight sky give’s a rat’s ass about my vocabulary.

But now I wonder if the proscription exists for us, not God. Because the fact is every single time I say “God damn it” I might as well say, “I don’t take God seriously.” If I did, I’d save Her name for prayers of thanksgiving and real problems, not stepping barefoot on a Lego.


Dear God, keep me from speaking your name, unless I mean it. Amen. 

ddauthormattfitzgerald.jpgAbout the Author
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.