Language Lesson
previous next

“Language Lesson,” Friend, Sept. 2007, 46–47

Language Lesson

(Based on a true story)

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Exodus 20:7).

“Hurry!” seven-year-old Ryan called to his friend Ben as they burst through the door of Ryan’s house. He and Ben walked home from school together every day, and Ben stayed at Ryan’s house until his mother got home from work.

“Hi, Mom,” Ryan said, grabbing a slice of banana bread off of the counter.

Ryan’s mother smiled and handed Ben a slice of his own. She gave Ryan a hug as both boys dropped their backpacks and sped into the computer room. The boys were allowed 20 minutes of computer time when they came home from school, and they couldn’t wait to play their favorite game.

“It’s my turn first,” Ryan said. He flopped into the tall red chair and slid “Monster Trucks” into the computer. It was Ryan’s favorite game, and they played it every day.

“Yeeee-ha!” Ben shouted as he watched Ryan’s blue computer truck jump over three cars. Ryan gunned the truck up the side of a tall mountain.

Ben jumped up and down and yelled whenever Ryan’s truck did any death-defying stunt. But as Ben got more excited, he began yelling words that made Ryan frown. Ryan cringed as Ben took the Lord’s name in vain.

The day before, Ryan had spoken to his mother about Ben’s language.

“Ben and his family aren’t members of the Church,” his mother had explained, “so he doesn’t understand that it’s bad to say those words.”

Still, hearing Ben swear took all the fun out of the game. Then Ryan had an idea. What if he taught Ben that it was wrong to take the Lord’s name in vain?

The next time Ben swore, Ryan stopped playing and turned to face his friend. “It’s not nice to say those words,” he said.

Ben looked surprised.

Ryan moved out of the chair so Ben could take a turn on the computer. He said, “It’s called taking the Lord’s name in vain. It’s like insulting Him, and it hurts me to hear you do it.”

Ben shrugged. “Sorry. I didn’t know. I’ll stop saying them.” Then he grabbed the computer controls and clicked on his red truck.

Ben used good language for the rest of the afternoon, and Ryan’s smile grew bigger and bigger. He and Ben were best friends, and he was sure that Ben would try hard not to take the Lord’s name in vain again. Now this wouldn’t stand in the way of either their fun or their friendship.


President Gordon B. Hinckley

“You know of the profanity of the school grounds and the street. Avoid it. Never let it cross your lips. Show your loyalty to the God of heaven and to the Redeemer of the world by holding Their names sacred.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Loyalty,” Ensign, May 2003, 60.

Illustration by Mark Robison