When Mary learned she was to have a divine Son, she was instructed to name him Jesus. Long before Mary knew He was to be her child, however, the Savior had been given many names—Jehovah, the Lamb of God, the Savior, the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In His lifetime, He taught that He was God’s son. The Old Testament and Book of Mormon prophets knew of His coming long before He was born, and knew many of the names by which He would be known:
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (2 Nephi 19 and Isaiah 9:6)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called Mormons, use many of the Biblical names to describe their Savior. They are taught from a young age to use His name with respect, never using it as a swear word or a slang expression. The Savior is reverenced, and so His name is also reverenced.
His name is given center space in the name of our church, because He holds the center spot in our religion and our hearts. His church, we teach, must contain His name. We are not, as commonly believed, The Mormon Church, because that would signify the church belongs to Mormon. No, it’s not Mormon’s church. He was a prophet, but not our Savior. Our church belongs to Jesus Christ, our Savior, and so it bears His name.
Because we worship Him, we teach our children—and our adults—not to take His name in vain.
“The desire and work of Satan is to mislead and corrupt. He seeks to frustrate the gospel plan by which God has provided the opportunity of eternal life for His children.
Satan seeks to discredit the sacred names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, the names through which their work is done. He succeeds in a measure whenever he is able to influence any man or woman, boy or girl, to make holy names common and to associate them with coarse thoughts and evil acts. Those who use sacred names in vain are, by that act, promoters of Satan’s purposes.” — Dallin H. Oaks, “Reverent and Clean,” Ensign, May 1986, 49
Too many people today try to remove the divinity from Christ, reducing Him to a mere teacher. Even some Biblical translations in modern times have sought to do so, changing the scriptures about a virgin birth for the Savior to mean He was merely born to a young woman. This reduces our Savior’s birth to an ordinary one and helps people to rationalize their trivialization of the most sacred event that had ever occurred on earth.
When we refer to Jesus by His own name, or by a title that reminds us of His divinity, we are better able to live by His teachings and honor His gift and sacrifices for us.
We know Jesus Christ was born in a miraculous manner, the literal Son of God. We know He redeemed us from our sins, died on our behalf, and rose again when such a thing was clearly impossible in scientific terms. We know He is our Savior and we choose to honor Him in many ways, one of which includes treating His name with respect.
Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that have appeared in LDS magazines. She is married to Lincoln Bittner and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to two girls. Terrie became a Mormon at the age of seventeen and has been sharing her faith online since 1992. She can also be found blogging about being an LDS woman at LatterdaySaintWoman.com.