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Blasphemy

by Gary L. Browning

Blasphemy denotes sacrilegious actions, speech, or thoughts that mock or revile God. A person blasphemes who, understanding the gravity of this behavior, willfully belittles or maligns God, the Godhead, or that which is of them, such as the commandments, covenants, ordinances, revelation, scriptures, and prophets.

Under the Law of Moses, blasphemy—understood anciently to be mainly the unauthorized uttering of the ineffable name of Jehovah (YHWH)—was a heinous offense punishable by stoning (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 24:10-16). Charges of blasphemy figure twice in the Book of Mormon—in Sherem's false accusations against Jacob (Jacob 7:7) and in Korihor's insolent speech before the chief judge (Alma 30:30). In these cases, and generally, blasphemy embraced many forms of impiety, whether directed against God, against his servants (Acts 13:45), against the king (1 Kgs. 21:10), or in some cases against holy places or things, including the law (Acts 6:13). However, when blasphemies were spoken in relative ignorance, the gift of mercy could mitigate the requirements of justice (1 Tim. 1:13).

If a person with spiritual knowledge intentionally blasphemes God or the divine, the sin is most serious. For those who have entered into the new and everlasting covenant, blasphemy in extreme form is a sin against the Holy Ghost wherein one assents anew unto the death of Christ and the shedding of his innocent blood. This is called the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:31-32; D&C 132:27).

Emphasizing the gravity of the sin of blasphemy for those who claim to be his followers, Christ revealed that when he comes to purge the world he will commence with those "who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house" (D&C 112:26).

Latter-day Saints are to refrain from blasphemy and the taking of the name of God in vain. Profanity and acrimony diminish spirituality and must be avoided: "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth" (Col. 3:8). People are not defiled, Jesus emphasized, by what goes into the mouth, but by what comes from the heart: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (Matt. 15:19). Accordingly, Latter-day Saints are enjoined to avoid all forms of evil speaking of God, of the Lord's anointed, and, by implication, of all that is his, for "in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments" (D&C 59:21).

[See also Profanity; Basic Beliefs home page; Doctrines of the Gospel home page.]

Bibliography

Hinckley, Gordon B. "Take Not the Name of God in Vain." Ensign 17 (Nov. 1987):44-48.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Blasphemy

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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