When I was living with my parents, saying things like “oh my god!” or “Jesus Christ!” were forbidden, because it was blasphemous. My parents had a bit of a thing (i.e. a major neurosis) about swearing generally, but Taking The Lord’s Name In Vain was a biggie of theirs. In some ways, it gave lesser swears more impact (huge thanks to my friend Tim for introducing me to the concept of Grade 1 and Grade 2 swears. Grade 3 are reserved for exceptional circumstances). It did, however, add to my weighty list of religion-based insecurities (body-shaming, friend-shaming, homophobia, to name just a few popular choices).
And then, as an atheist adult, I sort of have the opposite thing, weirdly. I say “oh my god!”, “Jesus Christ!”, “Holy Sh!t!” and so many more beautifully expressive expletives All The Time. It feels strange because saying “oh my god”, when there isn’t one, just seems counter-intuitive.
I think it’s a hangover from my youth, in that these innocuous words still hold such power due to the meaning projected on to them by my parents, teachers and people from the church. But then I also feel silly using a concept that has no meaning for me to express pain and indignation.
Maybe I need to get more creative with my use of language (that was another favourite of my teachers, that if you swore you were ignorant and unimaginative for not being able to use a non-sweary word instead). Or maybe I should just Let Swears Be Swears.