The Christian Origin of the Star Wars Phrase “May the Force Be With You” by Philip Kosloski

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One of the most frequently quoted phrases in the Star Wars saga is “May the Force be with you.” Obi-Wan Kenobi was the primary character who said this greeting, using it as a way to invoke the power of “the Force” to protect an individual or group of people.

For many Christians, especially Catholics, this phrase sounds very similar to a greeting used in the context of the liturgy, “May the Lord be with you.”

The reason for his similarity is because the Star Wars phrase is directly based on the Christian greeting.

Here’s a short history of the phrase from an article I wrote for Aleteia:

The phrase is first found in the Book of Ruth, “And behold, Bo′az came from Bethlehem; and he said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered, ‘The Lord bless you’” (Ruth 2:4). According to Christopher Carstens in Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass, the “greeting … is the greeting of the landowner Boaz to his harvesters. … It is a greeting to those who gather their daily bread by working in the field, a greeting to pilgrims like Ruth living off the land as they pass through. It was used by the Hebrews on everyday occasions to express good wishes in the Lord.”

The phrase received an even greater symbolism when adopted by the early Christians and used in the context of the Mass, where the true “daily bread” is made present on the altar….[It then] became an essential part of the liturgy and life of the early Christians on account of its basis in Scripture and usage in everyday greetings. After the Reformation, Protestant groups held on to the phrase and it can still be seen in Anglican and Lutheran liturgies. Catholics to this day use the words in blessings given by deacons and priests in the liturgy and other prayer services.

George Lucas was raised in a Methodist family and may have heard the phrase there, or while attending other Christian services. Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz confirmed in the book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe that the phrase was intentionally evocative of the blessing.

The Star Wars greeting remains one of the most iconic lines from the films and is used throughout each movie. However, when it is absent (like in Solo: A Star Wars Story), a spiritual vacuum is clearly visible.

The phrase, “May the Force be with you,” owes much of its spiritual weight to an ancient Christian tradition that runs deep in the Bible and continues to be a powerful phrase in the celebration of Christian liturgy.

Philip Kosloski is the founder of Voyage Comics & Publishing and the writer and creator of the comic book series, Finnian and the Seven Mountains.