[From the archives.]
New and Approved Names
You read that right. Not “new and improved” but “new and approved”. That’s how things went in Iceland recently.
Iceland, like other Scandinavian countries, has official name registers and new parents are restricted to selecting pre-approved names when it comes to naming their children. That didn’t sit well with one family:
A 15-year-old is suing the Icelandic state for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother. The problem? Blaer, which means “light breeze” in Icelandic, is not on a list approved by the government.
According to government records, her name is not Blaer but “Girl” because they can live with that. What sort of foolishness is this, you might ask? A quick visit to the Icelandic name registry page sheds some light on their thinking:
Rules for names
- Rules for Icelandic personal names provide that names must:
- be able to have a genitive ending or have been adopted through custom in the Icelandic language,
- must be adaptable to the structure of the Icelandic language and spelling conventions and
- does not cause the bearer embarrassment.
- Girls should be given a female name and boys should be given male names.
- No person can have more than three personal names.
If we had these rules in the English language, you couldn’t name a girl Madyson: it might not be considered as fitting English spelling conventions (as if the English language has those anyway); and someone could make fun of the child and cause her embarrassment (as if it takes an odd name for parents to embarrass their kids).
The happy news is the commission saw fit to approve her name. It took them 15 years, but Blaer (formerly known as Girl) at least now has a good story to tell her friends.
Blaer’s story took me to Revelation 2:17
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give … a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
and Revelation 3:12
The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
Jesus will give to his people and write on his people a new name, his new name, one that we will carry with us forever and that will be stamped upon us, a name that shows we belong to our blessed Savior.
It’s a name that’s new, a name that’s approved and one that is better than any we could choose for ourselves.
It’s a name I will be proud to bear and wear for eternity.