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Are Christians allowed to call people by a pet name?
Thank you for your spiritual question about using pet names as a Christian.
The bible doesn't appear to talk about pet names in the bible. However, the bible does place great importance on the meaning of names.
There are numerous times when God changed people's names in order to establish a covenant with them. God said to Abram: "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations" (Genesis 17:4-5). Abram means 'exalted father', but God wanted to remind Abram of his covenant, and so named him Abraham, meaning 'father of a multitude'. Every time someone would call Abraham by name, he would be reminded of God's covenant.
We see the same happening with Abraham's grandchild, Jacob. God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name." So he called his name Israel (Genesis 32:28). Jacob, means 'he takes by the heel' (taken from his birth, read Genesis 25:26) but Israel means 'he strives with God'. Once again, every time Israel would hear his name, he would be reminded of the day he wrestled with and was blessed by God.
There are numerous other times throughout the Old and New Testament where people's names and their meanings were mentioned, but in terms of names of affection, these are not mentioned.
Just as a name has the power to encourage and show affection, they also have the power to knock down and hurt. I'm sure we all know of cases where bullies have called people 'fat', 'ugly' or made reference to another physical feature. We must all be careful with the names we give to people. In 1 Chronicles 4:9, we read of a man called Jabez, meaning 'pain', because his birth had been so painful. Clearly, this isn't an encouraging name to have! Yet God blessed him.
When it comes to pet names, even something that may seem harmless, we have to ask if it is appropriate, if it is respectable, if it shows affection and if it builds the person up.
The Bible doesn't talk about boyfriends and girlfriend, as Biblically speaking, all relationships are steps toward marriage. Therefore, we find that the principles for relationships apply to marriage. Paul writes that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). Do pet names help show the same love for each other than Christ showed for the church?
What is also important is that boyfriends and girlfriends spend time praying and reading the scriptures together. This will build a good foundation for their relationship, where God is central.
In summary, there is nothing specifically wrong with pet names, but the bible makes it clear that names have great importance and power. Therefore, what we call people must be taken seriously. Any name we call people should encourage them and build them up. If it is unhelpful or hurtful, then it is not good and use of the name should be stopped. It is also important that boyfriends and girlfriends pray together and read the bible together, that they may be stronger in Christ.
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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