Whatever Happened To Holy?

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By Myrna Conrad

Webster’s definition of Holy is “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness; divine. God’s Word uses Holy exclusively in relation to God or something pertaining to God. Even Webster’s definition as “one perfect in goodness and righteousness” can only be descriptive of God.

Holy has been used as an intensifying word in relation to expletives since the 1880s (such as holy smoke, holy mackerel, holy cow, holy #*!@^). Today, Holy has become an adverb attached to any number of other words, many of which are some form of defecation, used in exclamations of surprise or dismay. It is beyond my understanding why people would choose to attach “Holy” to a word that is anything but holy. One explanation I found on www.english.stackexchange.com is, “As expressions lose their shock value, they need to be intensified to maintain their value as curses. Therefore, the adjective ‘Holy’ is added to intensify the ‘wrongness’ of the curse.” Really? That makes no sense to me.

The increased use of this word adjacent to a curse word or even another word that is not associated with being Holy is disturbing. I hear so many people using this verbiage today, and I’m not sure they even realize what they are saying. Rather, it has become a part of their vocabulary, because they hear others saying it.

This is the perfect month to think about Holy and what it means to us. On the 25th of this month, many will celebrate Christmas. I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas as the birth of Christ. However, for those who do, Christmas represents one of the Holiest events since the creation of the world. Jesus, being completely righteous, all powerful, creator, all knowing, existing outside the framework of time, chose to enter time on this small planet earth in order to live and die as a completely righteous man, so that our relationship with a Holy God could be restored. This is so amazing and only something a Holy God could do.

The word “Holy” should be reserved for God and God alone. When spoken, it should cause us to stop and think of all that God was willing to do for us. It should fill our heart with wonder and awe!

Words are a gift to be used as our means of communication. Words have the ability to build up or kill and destroy, to communicate hope and encouragement or evil and anger. Words can express love or hatred. They can be woven into stories, expressed in songs. They can make people laugh or cry. Words have power! So, we’re wise to think before we speak and consider the words we use, what they mean and how they will be received; they bring life or death!

Take some time this holiday season to think about the word “Holy” and what it means to you. We hear so much today about people misusing words. Consider the word “Holy” and, think about reserving its use for God and God alone.

Be Aware:
Be aware of the words you use and the correct meaning of those words.
Realize the power of words and use them in a way that brings life not destruction.
Be aware of the current lingo and don’t let it become a part of your vocabulary just because everyone else is using it.

Be Intentional:
Fill your mind with words that encourage and lift you or others up as a person.
Talk to your children about the words they are hearing and words they are using. Encourage them to understand the meaning of words and the consequences of using wrong words that can negatively affect others.
Use this season of Christmas to think about what the word “Holy” really means.

“And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” ~ Isaiah 6:3 ESV

Please visit my website at www.myrnaconrad.com.