DEAR HARRIETTE: In one of your recent columns, someone complained about people using the word "gay" as a slur, for example, "Oh, that's so gay." They were offended by this use of the word. But what about when those same people say "Oh my God" when they are mad or as an expression for whatever reason? I am offended by this!
The Bible tells us that this is taking the Lord's name in vain. His name should never be used in any way that is not holy! All people who call themselves Christians should be offended by this. Will you address this, too, or is it wrong only when the gays are offended? -- Child of God, Chicago
DEAR CHILD OF GOD: I'm glad you brought up this point. I strongly believe that we should be mindful of everything we say. Words have power. I believe it is wise to use uplifting, empowering words whenever possible.
As far as religious words, you are right that in Christian tradition, one is not supposed to use the Lord's name in vain. That would include the extremely common saying "Oh my God," which is now commonly shortened to "OMG." Should people say this? Not in the way it is most frequently used. My understanding is that it should be reserved for moments of tremendous wonder at the awesome nature of God.
That said, I suspect you will have a terrifically steep uphill battle to wage to awaken people to the offense they are committing when saying those words. The way I have addressed it most effectively is at home. My 8-year-old daughter knows that we don't say that, even if her friends do. If we teach our youth, we have a chance of cleaning up language for the next generation.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that my ex, who has always been my true love, is getting married. He emailed me to let me know. I know he meant well. He wanted me to know his good news. It has been a few years since we were together, and we have remained friends. But I'm not quite sure how to take this.
He said he wants me to come to the wedding and even help him out in advance. I feel like Julia Roberts in "My Best Friend's Wedding." I don't want to do it.
How can I let him know my feelings without making him uncomfortable? I wish him well, but I don't want to witness him marrying somebody else. -- Not Yet Over Him, Shreveport, La.
DEAR NOT YET OVER HIM: Given your lingering feelings for your ex, it is wise to keep your distance from his wedding. It would not be helpful for either of you for you to participate in the festivities, as it is unlikely you could completely hide your feelings.
I suggest that you schedule a meeting with your ex, either by phone or in person. Congratulate him on his engagement. Then tell him that while you are happy that he is happy, you cannot in good faith be a part of the festivities. He probably already knows that you still love him, but you can say that your feelings remain unresolved and thus you think it's best to stay away.