Q. But may we swear an oath in God’s name if we do it reverently?
A. Yes, when the government demands it, or when necessity requires it, in order to maintain and promote truth and trustworthiness for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good. Such oaths are grounded in God’s Word (1) and were rightly used by the people of God in the Old and New Testaments (2).
Read: (1) Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Jer. 4:1-2; Heb. 6:16; (2) Gen. 21:24; Josh. 9:15; 1 Kings 1:29-30; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23.
Have you ever seen court cases where the parties swear on The Bible and cringe? Have you ever seen the swearing in of a president and reciting the presidential oath by placing a hand on The Bible and be shocked by it? Many countries swear in their presidents by swearing on The Bible. Most “spiritual or religious” marriages incorporate or use The Bible for oaths. But most, sadly, do not understand the weight of what they are doing and therefore do it in a nonchalant way more due to their love of tradition than their love for God. So are we supposed to swear oaths? What does The Bible say about this? Let’s study question 100 of The Heidelberg Catechism and find out.
“I say to you, ‘Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King” (Matthew 5:33-37). Have you read this verse and thought that God is forbidding oaths? And yet you read “…At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow” (Acts 18:18b) and go, wait a second. Paul cut his hair for he was under a vow, an oath? So again, which is it? And as we have seen, it’s all a matter of the heart.
So vows were allowed and they were made binding because when they were swearing an oath they were swearing upon The Lord. However, Pharisees didn’t want to keep their oath so they made a rule up: if you swear an oath in someone other than God; namely, the stars, the moon, heaven, etc. it would not be a sin to break the oath. So basically they made oaths that they didn’t want to fulfill forgetting that God is sovereign over all.
I mean sister, you have to swear an oath when you are known to be a liar or untrustworthy! And if you are a follower of Jesus this SHOULD NOT be the case. I mean, have we forgotten about our new identity so fast that people around us see the wishy-washiness of our heart? Are we so enthralled by the world that we have become women who will do everything even swearing an oath that we don’t plan to fulfill to get what we want?!?! Sister, our God is sovereign; our God is good and He proved it by giving us His son to save us! “He is our portion, He holds our lot; they have fallen for us in good places. We have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5-6). Do we believe it? And if so, does it free us to make oaths and promises we won’t fulfill and lead us to contentment with godliness? Those are my questions for you today as we close this teaching. May you and I, dear sister, rejoice, trust, and be women of our word. May our yes be yes and our nos be no…