One of the things I get to do in the courtroom is hear people’s requests for changing names. There was the little boy whose parents wanted to change his name to better reflect their faith and culture. Other people seek to honor grandparents by taking their names. Still others are women who have divorced and want their birth names back.
All of these are very serious matters for the people involved, even if sometimes the name change is quite a joyous occasion as well.
I remember one woman whose request I didn’t know whether to take seriously or not at first. She wanted to take the name Major General Deborah Smith. She wasn’t in the military. She just wanted that name. I looked further into the paperwork and saw that she was changing her name from Vice Admiral. Not Vice Admiral Deborah Smith, though. It was Vice Admiral Catherine Jones.
I don’t know whether she was born Smith or Jones. So when the day for the hearing came, I was interested in seeing whether she was playing some sort of game. It turned out she was merely a bit eccentric.
She just liked the sound of the new name and wanted to take it on, and since no laws were being broken in having that name (at least none that I knew of in my state) I granted her name-change petition. And even though I thought her a bit eccentric, this name change was serious to her.
Names With Spiritual Significance
The Bible takes names and name-changes seriously too.
- The woman named Pleasant (Naomi) tells her friends to start calling her Bitter (Mara) after all the heartache she’s suffered. (Ruth 1:20.)
- God’s prophets name their children in ways that signify the word of God to his people. (Isaiah 8:3, Hosea 1:4-8.)
- God himself changed Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many nations) and Jacob (deceiver) to Israel (struggles with God) because they were instruments of his covenant with his people.
- And of course Jesus is the Name above all names, the one to which everyone will bow in worship. (Philippians 2:9-10.)
You also have a new name waiting for you as well (Revelation 2:17) and – on top of that – you bear the name of Christ for eternity. (Revelation 3:12.) You don’t even need to explain your reasons to a judge.
These names are yours because God gave them to you.