Q. May we also swear by saints or other creatures?
A. No. A legitimate oath means calling upon God as the only one who knows my heart to witness to my truthfulness and to punish me if I swear falsely (1). No creature is worthy of such honor (2).
Read: (1) Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:23; (2) Matt. 5:34-37; 23:16-22; James 5:12.
We live in a day in age where the amount of information has caused misinformation which has lead to mistrust. Media no longer objectively reports but has a shadow agenda that is pushed constantly onto us. Entertainment no longer brings a time of relaxation but pushes messaging to advance their interests. Politicians exchange tirades of tweetable bite sounds that bring others’ actions and words into questioning and all of this has simply made us distrust each other. We distrust our governments. We distrust our news. We distrust each other. And so we recur to swearing oaths. But are they legitimate? And what does God say about them? Let’s study question 101 of The Heidelberg Catechism to find out.
Oaths exist because trust doesn’t. When you are pushed to make an oath by something considered bigger than yourself, it means that your reputation is that of being untrustworthy and therefore trust does not exist. Or maybe they simply don’t know you so you haven’t had the chance to prove your trustworthiness. And therefore you make an oath.
As a follower of Jesus your yes should be yes and your no, no. People should know that you are trustworthy not because you always are; but because of the One that you follow. He has changed your heart in a way that lying is no longer what you do. If you commit to something, you will so it. If you say you will be somewhere, it will be done. You simply imitate your Father. He says it will be and so it is. This way you honor and glorify Him who saved you.
However, not everyone seeks to glorify God. Many people do not believe in God and therefore, they make oaths using saints or other creatures as an anchor to the reliability of their words. But they miss a point because God is Creator and Sovereign over everything created. So when they swear by the Heavens, they swear by God’s throne which belongs to God. When they swear by the earth, they swear by God’s footstool; which belongs to God. When they swear by rocks or angels or on the tomb of my mom, they swear on God’s creation; which is of God. And in swearing by anything that belongs to God, they unlegitimize their oath, regardless of whether or not they will fulfill it. Therefore, an oath is legitimate only if it is sworn by God but as Christians, we shouldn’t swear oaths because our trustworthy reputation precedes us.
So sister, do you see why the only legitimate swearing of an oath is if it is done unto God and why Jesus told us not to swear oaths?
As we close this teaching, I want to ask you; are you one who constantly swears oaths to others? Are you known as a trustworthy woman? And if not, would you go to God and His Word so that the Holy Spirit may transform your character in one such that your yes becomes yes and your no, becomes no (Matthew 5:33-37)?