Anthony Weiner is best known for breaking the 7th Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” And – for anyone who thinks “sexting” doesn’t fall into that category see Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28. I think it is important to discuss Mr. Weiner’s trip to church – and how he appears to have broken the third Commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Anthony didn’t curse in church, at least to my knowledge. But that is just part of what the third Commandment means. How did Anthony Weiner break the third Commandment and why should each of us be careful not to do the same?
Most of the news stories were focused on Danny Kedem, Weiner’s campaign manager. The 31-year-old resigned after the recent news of the candidate’s continued sexting scandal. The next day Mr. Weiner attended a Sunday morning service at Brownsville Community Baptist Church. I thought that choice was particularly disturbing. There are a lot of things Mr. Weiner could have said and done while at church, but he chose to campaign for mayor and defend himself – during a worship service. Weiner said, “I will never stop being grateful to my wife for sticking with me and helping me through this. People are saying some unspeakable things about her because she and I fought to keep our marriage together — we didn’t walk away from it.” Anthony Weiner didn’t use the pulpit in a way that honored the Lord. He didn’t use the pulpit to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and restoration. He didn’t take any personal responsibility for the things that were being said about his wife. While he was out campaigning, she spent her birthday behind closed doors, escaping the media. Mr. Weiner didn’t use the time of worship to bring glory to the Lord. Instead, he used the church in an attempt to glorify himself in the eyes of the people.
But how do Mr. Weiner’s actions at church on Sunday break the third Commandment? How did he take the name of the Lord in vain? The answer is found in a deeper study of what that Commandment means. The words translated “don’t take the name of the Lord in vain” in Hebrew mean, “don’t empty the name of the Lord.” People use the name of God and Jesus in ways that are empty of reverence and worship and in ways that don’t bring God glory. Using the Lord’s name in vain is using words that empty the Lord’s reputation, character and greatness in the eyes of others. When Anthony Weiner stood up in church and used a worship service to speak of himself and his campaign, he emptied the time of its true purpose – to lift up the Lord’s name.
Picture Jesus in the temple the week before his crucifixion. He was throwing the tables of the money changers, scattering the coins and shouting to the people that God intended his temple to be a house of prayer. He was restoring the name of God, his reputation and character, to the temple that had been built to honor his name. Now stop and consider the worship service at your own church this past Sunday. Would Jesus praise the worship and focus of the people – or would tables have been flying?
Interestingly, I don’t blame Anthony Weiner for what happened on Sunday – I blame the people who thought inviting him to speak was a good idea. Why was the invitation extended? What did the church hope to accomplish that day? Did their choice bring God the glory he deserved, or did it empty the worship time of his name?
The first four Commandments are worth considering, over and over again. We are not to have any other gods, make something an idol – creating a false god. We are not to take the Lord’s name in vain and number 4: We are to keep the Sabbath a holy day of worship. Anthony Weiner didn’t bring God glory during the worship time on Sunday. How can his mistake speak a caution to the rest of us?